For arena operators, such free tickets can be distributed, in the most part, with little pain: most events won't sell out. And once people are inside the arena, they not only make the building look more full, they spend money on expensive food and drink.
The main downside? The ticket distribution must be managed so as to not make buyers of full-price tickets feel like suckers, as some boxing writers have noted.
Also, people who are truly needy aren't getting that great a deal if they still have to shell out big bucks to eat and drink.
The $15 tickets
The $15 tickets to Brooklyn Nets games have played a somewhat related role, winning good publicity, even though the number available before games seems far less than the much promoted total of 2,000.
Free tickets have been distributed in several ways:
- monthly drawings for community groups, as specified in the Community Benefits Agreement (about which I'll write more in another post)
- sweepstakes through newspaper partners, like the New York Daily News (see below)
- one-time ticket dumps, as with the first boxing event at the arena, which involved more than 1,000 freebies
- more casual distribution to acquaintances and those lucky enough to be at certain events, such as at the monthly CBA ticket drawings
- rewards/succor for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, via Borough President Marty Markowitz on 11/13/12
- compensation of sorts to neighbors frustrated by arena operations
Note, for example, the three advertisements in the Oct. 28 New York Daily News, offering tickets via a sweepstakes to the Journey concert (now canceled) and the Coaches vs. Cancer college basketball tourney.
According to arena estimates, Journey (later canceled for weather) was supposed to attract 9,600 attendees, little more than half arena (peak) capacity, while the basketball games were supposed to draw 8,000. So that left a lot of slack for free tickets.
This is a good deal for both parties: both have excess capacity--advertising space for the newspaper and empty seats for the arena. They can help each other.
Of course there's a limit--if the arena plans to restrict seating from the upper bowl, to make the building look less empty and to keep a cap on staffing, then they can't simply paper the house.
Quieting frustrated neighbors?
I've heard secondhand that Barclays Center officials have offered free tickets to a few people near the the arena who must bear the brunt of illegal parking, workers sitting on their stoops, and other daily inconveniences.
I don't know the extent, but the gesture makes sense--it's a gift that costs the arena very little but might win some goodwill. It doesn't address the impacts, but it provides a distraction and some appearance of value.
A follow-up on the Brett Yormark Foundation
Note that 1,000 tickets to the first boxing event were distributed thanks to the Brett Yormark Foundation, named for the arena/team CEO. I noted last month that the Brett Yormark Foundation had not been previously announced.
Was it set up for this event? Did it even formally exist at the time? When was it established? I'm not sure, and my queries to Yormark and arena spokesman Barry Baum went unanswered.
I can say that searches of the New York State database of nonprofit corporations and an Internal Revenue Service list of foundations came up empty. Now, there may be a time lag in registering data, so those searches aren't definitive.