Thursday, January 07, 2016

Yormark's plan to market the Islanders, candor on Nets, fudging on Coliseum

Two days ago, Crain's New York Business offered Hockey rookie carries the Islanders banner into a new era, subtitled "Brett Yormark runs business operations for the Barclays Center, talks about balancing tradition with innovation for Brooklyn's sports brands."

The article suggested that "the team’s revenue was up 35% through mid-December, compared with the entirety of the Islanders’ final season at Nassau Coliseum," mostly due to premium seating, but noted that both the Nets and the Islanders rank near the bottom of their league in attendance.

Unmentioned is net revenue, which is the key question, since Barclays Center revenue was pretty high in the first year, but it didn't mean high net revenue. The arena has (reportedly, unconfirmedly) guaranteed the team a $50 million payment,

Drawing more fans

Asked how they plan to draw more New York City-based hockey fans, Yormark's response:
Three ways. We have to continue to market very aggressively, we’ve got to continue to do community outreach and humanize the players and get them to the grassroots level, and we have to create a sampling environment, getting people to experience hockey live.
That means "a multifaceted, seven-figure marketing campaign that gets people excited about this season and the run to the playoffs and next season." 

He's right that hockey attendance rises after the season starts--see Islanders Point Blank--but the Islanders already have some tough buzz with obstructed seating and high prices.

The morning skate moves

Also note the one-time--or perhaps more--move of the Islanders' morning skate from Brooklyn back to Long Island. The Daily News quoted Captain John Tavares as saying it came from the players:
“For us, I don’t think we saw how maybe this would work,” Tavares said. “I think a lot of us wanted to experience being at Barclays more, being in the room, skating there and getting to know the ice. But now it seems like a lot of us have gotten a good sense of that.
“At this point in the year, you travel so much, you go back and forth so much, I think you just want to spend time at home when you’re at home and make it feel more like it has been in the past. It’s our first time really going through all of this, so we’re just trying to get a sense of it all
The Coliseum timetable

Note Yormark's response to the question about the status of the Nassau Coliseum redevelopment.  "We plan to open in the winter of 2016," says Yormark.

Well, "plan to" covers a lot of ground. Newsday just reported the opening may be delayed until 2017.

The Nets are lousy

Note Yormark's very candid comments about how to keep Nets fans engaged:
The team has to play better. We’ve got to give people a reason to show up every night. One area we’ve lagged from last year is the show rate: the portion of people who buy tickets and show up. We’re thinking very proactively about how we keep people engaged, create value for them and amplify the in-arena experience—so people have a wonderful experience, win or lose.
As the Brooklyn Game commented, the prognosis is bad:
The Nets do have some decent players, but there’s no direct avenue for them to improve this season. Barring a trade of unexpected value, the Nets lack the talent to compete in the Eastern Conference and the draft picks to improve with young players in the next few seasons.
That means they have to compete--with other teams--in free agency.

About that "show rate": presumably many of the no-shows are either season ticket holders who decide not to attend and/or can't sell their tickets for much on the secondary market, and maybe even recipients of freebies who think it's not worth it.


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