Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Will the Barclays Center host even 200 events a year? That's questionable--and the longstanding promise was 225 events

The Record's John Brennan, in Mission impossible?, writes:
Sean Saadeh was just hired to be vice president of programming for the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn arena that is under construction and is scheduled to open in August 2012.

According to the press release, “The Barclays Center will host more than 200 events annually, including premier concerts, monthly major professional boxing cards, professional tennis, top college basketball and hockey, family shows.. and Nets basketball.”

200? With one sports tenant? Figure 45 to 50 Nets games, counting preseason and maybe a round or two of playoffs (might be being kind there), and that leaves at least 150 other events to go. In a recent Sports Business Journal story, club chief executive Brett Yormark broke that down to include 48 Feld Entertainment shows, 12 boxing events, 25 college basketball and hockey games, at least 20 concerts with Live Nation, and a couple of tennis events.
That adds up to about 110 events beyond basketball, or less than 160.

Brennan suggests that the example of the Prudential Center, which didn't lure acts from the Izod Center, bodes ill for Barclays. Then again, as one Brooklynite pointed out on NetsDaily, there's a new market to tap.

Realistic numbers?

That said, we should consider that not long ago, arena boosters were promising 225 events--even though that total was based on an utterly flawed premise.

As I wrote 12/2/09, I tried to follow up on the news that a Moody's analyst said the firm's just-above-junk rating for $511 million in Barclays Center PILOT bonds depended in part on 225 events a year.

Noting that the arena sponsors most recently predicted "over 200" events a year. I asked if Moody's was confident of the stated total of 225 events.

I didn't get a number.

As we've known for years, the longstanding projection of 225 events a year depended on the closing of the Meadowlands Arena (now the Izod Center) and no construction of an arena in Newark. (Forest City even told the MTA there would be 250 events.)

That scenario of 225 events was accepted by famed sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, a paid FCR consultant, even though it left no place for the New Jersey Devils to play hockey, as Gustav Peebles and Jung Kim pointed out in their critical analysis of Zimbalist's report.

The Izod Center remains open. A new arena was built in Newark. That means more competition, even if Brooklyn is an under-tapped market.

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