Friday, June 21, 2013

Brooklyn Tech first high school to hold graduation at arena; $50 increase in senior dues helps pay $60,000 cost

The headline in today's Wall Street Journal is Space Constraints Send Brooklyn High School Graduating Class to New Arena, but it could have added the words "plus $60,000."

Today's graduation ceremony at the arena will cost an additional $60,000 to rent the Barclays Center. Previously, the school had to hold two graduation ceremonies in its 3,000-seat school auditorium to accommodate the 1,200 graduating seniors and their families.

The Journal reports:
This year, school officials raised student dues by $50 to help pay for the $60,000 cost of holding a ceremony at Barclays, which broke ground in 2010 three blocks away from the competitive school.
Other schools are large enough to hold their commencements in venues such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Apollo Theater and New York Botanical Garden. But Brooklyn Tech students have felt a connection to Barclays Center, Principal Randy Asher said. "Literally the center has grown up with the students," he said. "There's something poetic about that."
I think the Journal meant senior dues, not student dues. Senior dues packages range from $135 to $160 to $235, all including graduation ceremonies and "related expenses." If each of 1,200 seniors paid $50, that would add up to exactly $60,000.

This is the first high-school graduation at Barclays, which previously hosted graduations for Long Island University and New York University's Polytechnic Institute. 

The cost: less than once projected

The cost of the latter was not revealed, but it should be noted that $60,000, while not exactly chump change, is less than the total once projected by arena developer Forest City Ratner, as analyzed in a 2006 report to the Empire State Development Corporation by KPMG:
The average ticket prices assumed by FCRC for concerts, family shows, and other sporting events and the percentage split to the facility appear reasonable. However, the base rental rate for other events (e.g., graduations) of $62,000 plus the estimated $41,000 in event-related expenses appears to be high. Although these rates could change subject to actual negotiation with prospective users, it is likely that these rates need to be further reduced to accommodate various civic groups that cannot afford "market" rental rates, particularly given the competitiveness of the market.
Forest City later said costs would be lower.

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