Sunday, September 25, 2016

When it comes to the Barclays Center, Zimbalist now switchable as independent academic analyst

It was rather entertaining to read this 9/5/16 Newsday article, by Jim Baumbach, headlined Islanders’ pact gives team a Barclays opt-out after 3 seasons. Not only is it a good analysis of the potential to dissolve the deal between the team and the arena, it contains these paragraphs:
This type of setup is unusual for a professional sports team, experts said. Multiple sports executives and sports business experts said they know of no other sports team among the four major sports that has a deal similar to the Islanders’ in which the arena, acting as the landlord, has control over items such as ticket prices, marketing and even the team’s website. The deal was designed to provide the Islanders short-term financial stability with the $53.5 million annual fee that didn’t exist at Nassau Coliseum but also give the team an exit strategy.
“Charles Wang wanted to keep his options open, but at the same time he wanted to have the best short-term plan that he could, and Bruce Ratner wanted to have another tenant for another 45-plus dates a year,” said Andrew Zimbalist, sports economics professor at Smith College. “That’s the way in which the sides came together, and that’s why the deal is fragile for the longer term.”
An academic hat

So here's Zimbalist, wearing his academic hat, forgetting how he was paid by arena developer Forest City Ratner to write a deeply flawed report on how the arena would be a gold mine for the public, as I dissected it in 2006 as The $6 billion lie.

After all, to quote Zimbalist's 2005 report Estimated Fiscal Impact of the Atlantic Yards Project onthe New York City and New York State Treasuries
Many of the numbers used in this report concerning Nets attendance, ticket prices, construction costs and other items come from projections done by or for the Nets. I have discussed these estimates with the Nets and they seem reasonable to me. The Nets project that the arena will not host an NHL team and that it will host 226 events during the year (assuming the eventual closing of CAA, no new arena in Newark, no NHL and no minor league hockey events at the Atlantic Yards arena.) The Nets project out three scenarios over time based on aggressive, moderate and conservative assumptions. I use the estimates from their moderate scenario.
As Jung Kim and Gustav Peebles pointed out in their response to Zimbalist's report, he thought it "reasonable" that the Continental Airlines Arena (CAA) at the Meadowlands would close and there would be no new arena in Newark. But that left nowhere for the New Jersey Devils to play and, indeed, that Newark arena did arrive.

The great irony is that Ratner made a decision to downsize the Brooklyn arena to save money, but the Islanders decided that the local fan base and TV contract were worth it to play in a venue with awkward layout and sightlines.

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