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As former radio host Carton is sentenced, New Yorker dives into murky relationship with Barclays Center re ticket resales

As Newsday reported yesterday, former sports talk radio host Craig Carton was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for his "ticket-resale Ponzi scheme" fueled by a gambling addiction. However, as the New Yorker explained, Carton's connection with the Barclays Center was never fully explained, despite evidence the arena was quite interested in working with him.

The brash former host of WFAN's "Boomer & Carton in the Morning" was once a notable skeptical about the Barclays Center, challenging guest Brett Yormark, the arena's CEO, on the air a few times, notably about a promise to open in 2011, or about the plan to host the Brooklyn Nets' opener right after Superstorm Sandy.

As Newsday's John Riley wrote:
Carton, a father of four who once made a $2 million annual salary at WFAN, loudly denied the charges when they were first filed in 2017. Testimony at his trial last year indicated he exploited his WFAN celebrity to try to make ticket deals with executives at Barclays Center, and then lied to the hedge fund Brigade Capital about his success as part of his scam.
In the New Yorker: the BSE connection

Nick Paumgarten's lengthy New Yorker article published yesterday, The Rise and Fall of a New York Shock Jock, goes deeper into Carton's relationship with the Barclays Center and its parent Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment:
One of Carton’s foundational grievances was that the statement released by the government after his arrest had described his secondary-market ticket operation as a “sham.” They said he had “no deals to purchase any tickets at all,” when in fact he had bought and sold tickets in vast quantities, with the knowledge and the assistance of the top executives at B.S.E. They sold him the tickets, knew he was reselling them, and had at least discussed getting a share of the revenue. The prosecutors didn’t follow through on the “sham” part. They affirmed, for example, that Carton had paid $1.5 million—the majority of it on his credit card—for thousands of tickets to Metallica and Barbra Streisand. You can’t do that unless someone connected to the concerts lets you. But by then the “sham” label had stuck.
(Emphases added)

That "someone," of course, was the arena operating company, now known as BSE Global. As Paumgarten writes:
Carton dates his association with B.S.E. to the 2014 Super Bowl, in New Jersey. Carton says that he approached Brett Yormark, the company’s C.E.O., and asked if anyone had a so-called “hold” on Barclays on the night before the game. No one did; it was, as they say, a dark night. So Carton helped CBS book the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who would be performing the halftime show. Carton got twenty thousand dollars for introducing the band onstage. (A spokesperson for B.S.E. denies that Carton had any involvement in booking the show.)
That's not provable either way, but it's clear that Boomer & Carton helped promote the show, which was named for their radio station. See this 12/16/13 CBS press release:
Earlier today on CBS RADIO’s all-sports station WFAN-AM/FM, morning show hosts Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton welcomed acclaimed drummer Chad Smith, who announced that multiple GRAMMY® Award-winning rock band, Red Hot Chili Peppers will be headlining “WFAN’s Big Hello To Brooklyn” at Barclays Center on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014.
A formal agreement with Carton

From the New Yorker:
Not long afterward, Carton offered Yormark help booking acts in order to avoid dark nights. Barclays Center had opened less than two years earlier, and, as the Super Bowl weekend suggested, the arena management hadn’t quite got a handle on filling it when the Nets weren’t home. They launched a partnership in which Carton would get fifty-one per cent of the proceeds; B.S.E. hired a music-industry executive named Joseph Meli to be the chief content officer. “I brought Joe to the table,” Carton told me. After some abortive attempts to set up shows, and after hearing some talk that Meli wasn’t reliable, B.S.E. dissolved the venture.
We can't be certain, but it's not implausible that the arena would do this. After all, as Yormark has said, before the New York Islanders arrived in 2015, it was "all about volume" to fill the arena.

I couldn't find a press release about Brooklyn Direct on the Barclays web site, but the 2/5/15 press release is on AllAccess.com, as Barclays Center Launches Brooklyn Direct As New Programming Division:
BARCLAYS CENTER has launched BROOKLYN DIRECT, a new programming division designed to work directly with agents and managers to book exclusive non-touring artists and to curate live content for BROOKLYN’s major sports and
...BROOKLYN DIRECT will complement the arena’s live touring content, while bringing one-of-a-kind shows and events to BARCLAYS CENTER.
BROOKLYN DIRECT is led by its Chief Content Officer JOSEPH MELI, formerly an independent promoter and a Senior Vice President of WARNER MUSIC GROUP under the U.S. recorded music division.
Billboard reported 2/5/15:




Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark says that, while promoters have been "very supportive" of Barclays Center, "given the cyclical nature of the touring business, we've decided as a company to be a little more aggressive in the direct business."
A "little more aggressive" got them burned a little, it seems.

The Barclays secondary ticket market

From the New Yorker:
From this foray into the concert trade, Carton learned a little bit about the secondary market for tickets. Scalping, thanks to StubHub and the like, had gone semi-straight—what formerly could be a Class D felony was now legit, though still in many ways legally murky. Carton approached B.S.E. again, to ask about buying tickets in bulk. “There’s three ways to get tickets—from the arena, from the promoter, and from the artist,” Carton told me. “So, if you have a relationship with any one of those three, then you can get access to the best tickets and you can sell them for a big profit on the secondary market.” Referring to B.S.E., he said, “It guaranteed them ticket sales, and then a piece of the profit on the secondary sales.”
The extent to which this did or did not happen was not fully litigated during Carton’s trial.
Correspondence indicating that it did happen was not allowed into evidence, because it was deemed hearsay: B.S.E. executives said on the witness stand that they did not remember certain e-mails, and Carton never testified. In his kitchen, he showed me a bunch of e-mails from B.S.E. executives. One included a term sheet offering him two hundred tickets to every future concert, with B.S.E. getting twenty per cent of Carton’s profits on the secondary sales. If B.S.E. introduced Carton to other arena operators and promoters, B.S.E. would get 7.5 per cent of that profit. This term sheet was not presented at the trial. Another e-mail, from Fred Mangione, Yormark’s chief of staff, in November, 2016: “This will start the beginning of our deal and rev”—apparent shorthand for revenue sharing. Mangione said he couldn’t remember what it referred to. B.S.E. executives seemed to be minimizing their involvement with Carton, and with the practice of turning over tickets to secondary dealers. (The B.S.E. spokesperson said that the company never had any agreement about profit sharing, and didn’t receive any payments from Carton.)
Maybe they never reached an agreement, but it looks like they discussed having an agreement. As not "did not remember certain e-mails," well, that's a not inconvenient response.

Taking it to another level

From the New Yorker:
It didn’t help Carton’s case that he doctored some e-mails—along the way, misnaming the company he was supposedly representing and misspelling Barbra, as in Streisand. (Mangione testified that he would never have made that mistake, because it had happened previously, on his watch—before a Streisand concert at Barclays—and “it wasn’t a good day, let me put it that way.”) Whatever ambiguity there was about whether any kind of deal or revenue sharing between Carton and B.S.E. really existed, there was no question that Carton had misrepresented such an arrangement to his investors and then misspent their money. Therein lay the crime. Carton sent investors forged contracts that an associate of Joe Meli’s had worked up (and that Carton had further doctored) in an attempt to make an apparently improvised relationship with B.S.E. look like a contractual partnership.
Somehow Carton got a $10 million investment from a hedge fund managed by Brigade Capital, money that  was not used for ticket purchases as specified, but rather to pay another investor, as well as Carton's gambling debts.

Writes Paumgarten:
Among the many baffling elements of the whole affair are why a firm of Brigade’s size and stature would muck around in such shallow, muddy waters, with such slippery fish, and why Carton, a man who by his and others’ accounts loves his family and his job, would risk both on so flimsy a play. As to the former, it may have had something to do with the allure of concert tickets... As for Carton, maybe it’s just that he liked the speed of the numbers, the playing of multiple hands—or the prospect of a whole new cast of naysayers, to whom he could eventually, in his dreams, say fuck you.


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