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Despite high rank worldwide, Barclays Center's second full year shows drop of 27% in tickets sold, 28% in gross revenue

The Barclays Center's second full year was very strong, arena officials proclaimed last week, issuing a press release headlined "After Just Two Years, Barclays Center Continues To Be a Top-Ranked Venue Worldwide."

Pollstar 2014 results
Yes, in 2014, the Brooklyn arena ranked just behind Madison Square Garden among the highest grossing U.S. arena for concerts, family shows, and other events, as the Barclays Center announced, citing Billboard and Venues Today (which do not include Brooklyn Nets games). Also, Pollstar ranked Barclays as second among U.S. venues for tickets sold.

However, those impressive rankings mask a significant decline in the Barclays Center's popularity compared to its slam-bang debut year: 27% in total tickets sold, and 28% in gross revenue.

(The net revenue decline is likely less, since arena managers last year pursued new efforts at cutting costs.)

The Brooklyn arena, which opened in September 2012, could no longer ride its initial buzz, and no longer dominated the New York City market once Madison Square Garden completed a renovation in late October 2013.

Tickets sold, gross revenue

According to Pollstar, the Brooklyn arena in 2013 ranked first in the country (and third in the world), with 991,752 concert tickets sold. In 2014, according to Pollstar, the Barclays Center ranked second in the country (and sixth in the world), with 723,616 tickets sold, a 27% drop.

2013 results, Billboard
Well, what about gross revenue? After all, an arena could sell fewer tickets but book more higher priced shows.

In 2013, under Billboard's count (which actually began in mid-November 2012), the Barclays Center welcomed 1,135,505 people, grossing $83.5 million. That ranked the arena as first in the U.S. and third in the world among similarly sized venues, seating at least 15,000 people.

In 2014, by contrast, the Barclays Center ranked second in the country and fourth in the world, grossing $60 million from 867,927 attendees, according to Billboard. That's a 28% drop in revenue on a 23.6% decline in gate count.

The revenue figure may reflect that in 2013 the Barclays Center had more big name concerts. In 2014, the Barclays Center actually had two more shows than in 2013: 139 vs. 137, according to Billboard.

(Billboard and Pollstar differ in total tickets sold, perhaps partly because Billboard doesn't use a calendar year, and also because Pollstar is limited to concerts.)

2014 results, Billboard
Madison Square Garden in 2014 reaped $123.6 million from attendance of 1,347,475, according to Billboard, a huge jump from its 2013 results: $73.4 million from attendance of 846,976.

Then again, as noted, the MSG renovation was not completed until the last quarter of 2014. Either way, Madison Square Garden can capitalize on its location and history and reap far more per ticket.

Big shows?

As noted in the press release, the Barclays Center last year booked major shows, including entertainers like Elton John, Justin Timberlake, JAY Z, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Marc Anthony. But Madison Square Garden eclipsed it.

According to Pollstar, the biggest concert gross in 2014 by far came from Billy Joel's 12-show stand at Madison Square Garden. Other big shows at MSG included Paul Simon/Sting, ranked 42 (two shows); Fleetwood Mac, at 45 (two shows); Justin Timberlake, at 77 (two shows); Bruno Mars, at 82 (two shows).

The first Barclays Center act on the list was Katy Perry, whose two shows ranked 88. That said, gross depends somewhat on volume: the Barclays Center reaped more $2 million from its single Justin Timberlake concert, while MSG earned $3.66 million from two shows.

Going forward

“In just two full years, we are proud to have become a global destination that is bringing the best programming to Brooklyn,” said Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark in the press release, who pledged to "soon announce several major events and unique programming alliances."

It seems like some have taken notice. WPIX reported, in coverage of the potential impact of the Democratic National Convention:
However, at businesses like Yayo’s Restaurant, located two blocks from Barclays Center, its owner said that not luring the convention to New York would make a trying situation even worse.
“It’s not the way we thought it would be,” said Geronimo Diaz, regarding his receipts since Barclays opened three years ago. He said there was a need for more hip hop and Latin music concerts, as well as other major events, including the DNC. He described his business this way, “It’s not been happening like it was the first year.”
The press release