Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From the Commercial Observer: Barclays Center’s First Year, By The Numbers (big concert venue; bonus: changing number of annual events)

In an article/chart for this week's Commercial Observer, Barclays Center’s First Year, By The Numbers, I wrote:
By most measures, the Barclays Center had a very good year since opening with eight Jay-Z concerts a year ago this Saturday, including hosting MTV’s Video Music Awards last month. As the statistics show, its success as a concert venue was significant, even if audience attendance was bolstered in some part by ongoing renovations at Madison Square Garden.
While some scheduled events never came to fruition, the total number of events lagged behind several estimates, and the start-up costs were a drag on profits, the Barclays Center will get a big bump during the 2015-2016 season when the New York Islanders move in.
Click through for various statistics, including the notable difference between projected concerts and the actual number, Nets fan demographics, attendance figures, as well as some of the events (what about that collaboration with BAM?) that were announced but not yet staged (or never will be).

Also note that the busy arena is not necessarily a profitable one, given start-up costs and, perhaps contracts written to lure some major acts to choose Barclays. Then again, the arena's success as a concert venue should be helpful, and the improvement of the Nets' roster should lead to an even more full house for hoops.

What's not included

Note that this set of statistics addresses the Barclays Center as a venue. I didn't try to analyze some of the larger issues regarding:
  • tax revenues (too fuzzy, though note that far more New Jersey basketball fans were once expected, which would give a bigger boost than locals redirecting spending)
  • jobs (we know there are some 2000 jobs, about 1900 part-time, but we don't know hours and wages)
  • retail rents and commercial impact (rising, and quite varied) 
  • community impacts (not as bad as feared but significant for some closest to the arena)
  • the larger Atlantic Yards project.
As Bob Windrem (aka Net Income of the NetsDaily blog) reminds me, the piece did not include statistics on transit use, and less driving.

By promoting use of public transit, limiting on-site parking, gaining significant number of local residents walking, lowered actual attendance, and having the benefit of free on-street parking, the goals in the Final Environmental Impact Statement to lower the "auto share" of Nets attendees were met.
  • For weekday Nets games, the goal was 28.3%, but the actual statistic was 25.7%.
  • For weekend games, the goal was 32%, but the actual figure was 31.9%.
Changing projections regarding annual events

One other set of statistics did not fit into the chart, but remains interesting. It regards the changing number of annual events projected at the arena.
  • 224: May 2004. Source: Report by Forest City Consultant Andrew Zimbalist
  • 250, May 2005. Source:, Forest City’s bid to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • 235, May 2005. Source: Forest City presentation to City Council 
  • 194+, September 2005. Source, New York City Independent Budget Office Fiscal Brief
  • 225: July 2006 General Project Plan, Empire State Development Corporation
  • 225: June 2009 Modified General Project Plan, Empire State Development Corporation
  • 200+, September 2009. Source: Barclays Center press release
  • 225, December 2009. Source: ratings agency Moody's 
  • 220, December 2009.  Source: Forest City, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor's, which called estimate “aggressive” 
  • 184-214, December 2009. Source: consultant Conventions, Sport & Leisure International, part of official statement for bond buyers
  • 220, December 2012. Source: Brett Yormark interview in Gotham magazine.
  • 200+, June 2013. Source: Forest City Enterprises investor presentation
As noted, the advent of the Islanders should be very helpful. That doesn't mean there will be 44 (or so) more total events, since hockey games will nudge out some concerts. But two professional teams are surely better than one.

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