Friday, September 26, 2014

Tonight's Islanders game another test for Long Island fan base (and neighborhood); team getting paid by arena, which gets potential upside

There's the second pre-season NHL game ever tonight for the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center, their home come fall 2015, and it's another test for managing a Long Island-based fan base.

It's also a test for the neighborhood, since, despite the promotion of the Long Island Rail Road, some fans may drive, seeking free on-street parking (though that was not publicized as a problem last year), and others may get rowdy, as some reported last year.

Taking the train

The Barclays Center web site and other publicity stress the extra Long Island Rail Road service.

As Newsday reported 9/20/14, LIRR, Barclays Center work to get Islanders fans to come to Brooklyn:
The enhanced LIRR service to and from Atlantic Terminal for Friday's game includes an extra westbound Babylon train before the game and two additional eastbound trains after the game going directly to Babylon and Hicksville. Brooklyn customers traveling to those stations typically have to change at Jamaica.
In between scheduled departures, the LIRR will also run shuttle trains between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica at regular intervals after the game, and as late as necessary. The LIRR will also have extra personnel available at Atlantic Terminal to assist customers.
Last year, the LIRR was "crushed" by 6,000 fans using the service after the game. (Here's a photo gallery of the game.) At the arena, managers will promote train usage.

However, as Newsday and commenters reported, the distance for travel (and cost of the railroad, versus cheap parking at the Nassau Coliseum) means some fans won't make the trip.

Then again, as with the move of the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, team and arena operators are expecting some Brooklyn fan base to pick up the slack

Working on the fans

On 6/23/14, Newsday published Barclays Center to entice Islanders' season-ticket holders, noting that current Islanders season-ticket holders were sent a video along with a new marketing campaign slogan, "Tradition Has a New Home."

So the Islanders will keep their familiar orange, blue and white Islanders jerseys but add a third jersey that is cousin to the black-and-white Brooklyn Nets jerseys.

One commenter groused:
The days of the Isles being "family-friendly" will be long gone. Including tickets, concessions, and travel, a family of 4 won't spend $400 for a hockey game.
Sports Business Daily, on 3/31/14, published, Islanders hire Gameplan Creative for transition to Barclays, which also dealt with the jersey change. It noted that the Islanders had only 8,000 season-ticket holders, half the seats in the 16,000-seat Nassau Coliseum.

As the Bergen Record's John Brennan noted 4/22/14, the capacity for last season's game was 15,813, including a number of sub-optimal seats with limited views, while the capacity announced for this year's game is 15,795, just 18 seats fewer.
The contours of the Islanders/Barclays deal

The web site Islanders Point Blank on 10/23/13 reported Source: Barclays Center Takes on Arena Deal Risk, Isles Get Financial Certainty:
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Islanders would receive an annual payment from the Barclays Center when the team relocates there for the 2015-16 season and each year thereafter. The Journal reported that this payment was believed to be in the tens of millions of dollars per year.

A Point Blank source has seconded the WSJ’s report that the team would receive a large annual payment from the Barclays Center and has provided further details.

The source added that the payment to the Islanders would increase at a single-digit percentage annually. There are also stipulations in the agreement that could cause the payment to be reduced but the exact details of such stipulations were not known.

In exchange for the large lump sum payment each season, the source tells Point Blank that the Barclays Center will receive the majority of team revenues. Those revenue streams include ticketing, merchandising, suite sales and other revenue sources that Islander games at the Barclays Center will produce.
That gives the Islanders some financial stability and predictability, while it puts pressure on the Barclays Center to manage the variables, and to try to wring as much revenue as possible.

That same day, the blog quoted arena CEO Brett Yormark as saying there might be small changes to the Barclays Center, such as more premium seating and a “locker room campus” for the Islanders

The Nassau Coliseum, Yormark told a radio interviewer, could not have worked, because "There's very little suite revenue coming out of that building."

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