Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

New Nets/arena CEO Levy claims Barclays Center will be active 285 days/year. Last 12 months had 146 ticketed events (and biggest year was 240+ events).

Pretty much anyone (other than his twin) is less of a hype man than former Barclays Center/Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark.

So, the new CEO, David Levy, sounded more grounded in a recent interview with WFAN's Mike Francesa, which, as summarized by NetsDaily, included him anticipating on-site gambling via mobile devices from the arena.

And Levy, on board since Joe Tsai bought the team (in full) and arena operating company Sept. 19, has reason to be happy, with a claimed 72% jump in Nets' ticket sales compared to last year, and a comfortable position as a "second" (at least in longevity and historic fan base) team in a large market, with good public transit.

Arena active 285 days a year?

But at about 19:52 of the interview, Levy's numbers got very questionable.

"How many days a year is the building active?" Francesa asked.

"Two hundred and eight-five," replied Levy.

Really? If so, that would be a leap--and we'd have to see an overstuffed arena calendar. Keep in mind that, as disclosed in a prospectus to bond buyers in 2016, the arena had "averaged approximately 180 to 200 events each year since its opening in September 2012, which has increased to over 240 events with the addition of Islanders Home Games in 2015."

Of course, since then, the number of Islanders games at Barclays was cut in half, then further shifted to the Nassau Coliseum: this season there will be only 13 regular-season hockey games in Brooklyn and one pre-season game, plus potential playoff games.

The last 12 months: 146 ticketed events

Levy wasn't responsible for programming the Barclays Center until very recently, but the arena's at little more than half that pace. Let's go over the announced calendars:
  • November 2019: 28 ticketed events over 23 days, plus two private events on two more days.
  • October 2019: 13 ticketed events over 13 days, plus one private, non-ticketed event.
  • September 2019: five ticketed events, plus two private, non-ticketed events.
  • August 2019: eight ticketed events, plus two private events.
  • July 2019: four ticketed events.
  • June 2019: eight ticketed events, plus five graduation ceremonies.
  • May 2019: five ticketed events, plus five private events.
  • April 2019: 13 ticketed events, including four playoff hockey games.
  • March 2019: 16 ticketed events.
  • February 2019: 11 ticketed events, over 10 days.
  • January 2019: 14 ticketed events.
  • December 2018: 22 events in 22 days, all but one of which were publicly ticketed.
That adds up to 146 ticketed events--I use that term because some are double-headers--over 140 days, plus 18 non-ticketed events. 

Note that these are preliminary schedules, so there's surely some wiggle room, with events added and subtracted. Also note that the private events range from small to large, but few raise any revenue in terms of concessions, for example.

Back to the interview: 120 major events?

"That's remarkable," Francesa responded. "How many would you consider to be major events? Like a sellout concert, how many concerts?"

"I don't know the number of concerts, we have a lot," replied Levy. "I would say 120 of the nights are probably major major nights... ultimately, we hope to make playoffs.. concerts and other venues and conventions, we have the NCAA, the A-10 tournaments. A lot of things that go on in this building."

Yes, the Atlantic 10 college basketball tournament is selling tickets to the whole building. Then again, other college hoops tourneys, including the Roman Legends Classic (tickets), the NIT season tipoff (tickets), and the Air Force Reserve Basketball Hall of Fame Invitational (tickets), are not selling the upper bowl, while the Barclays Center Classic is selling mostly general admission tickets to the building. Tickets for the NCAA tournament are not yet on sale.

What's a "major major night"?

Keep in mind that even when the Nets sell out, with 17,732 tickets sold or distributed, gate count was typically less, or 13.2% below announced attendance in the first four years, as I reported, based on a 2016 disclosure to bond buyers.

In their first season, the Islanders averaged 13,626 fans for regular season home games, with gate count around 11,200, and attendance has steadily dropped. There are many $6+ tickets available (via StubHub) to tomorrow night's home hockey game.

As to events outside pro sports, the report indicated that the arena averaged about 5,000 people for family shows, boxing, and college basketball.

Concerts generally attract more than 10,000 people, though in the first nine months several sellouts boosted average attendance toward 12,000.

In other words, a concert--they averaged between 36 and 55 the first four years--may be a "bigger" event, but it's typically not close to a sellout. If Barclays hosts 43+ Nets games and 14+ Islanders games (including pre-season, but not playoffs) this year, and 45-50 concerts, plus a few "bigger" college hockey events, it would be tough to total 120 unless the concert schedule really pops and/or the pro teams go deep in the playoffs.

That said, even if the number does reach 120, likely only a portion will be sellouts.

No qualms, and big plans

Francesa asked Levy if anything gave him pause about taking the job, and the executive hit it out of the park.

Going over his criteria, Levy said he determined that he would have a passion for the job, would be working for a compatible boss, and would be set up for success with the appropriate resources and infrastructure.

As NetsDaily reported:
“Joe knows the opportunities around digital and the opportunities around social. and this where we are going to build the team,” said Levy who formerly ran Turner Media. “[That’s] how he’s focused on where he’s building his company Alibaba and where he thinks he can take the Nets, not just on a domestic, but even on a global basis... build this brand not just domestically here but build it on a national and global basis.”
...“I’m also a part of Joe Tsai Sports and Blue Pool Capital where we’re doing investments in media and entertainment,” Levy noted. “So the investment side by using this infrastructure we can invest in technology that we can actually expose in this building, prove that it works and then use in arenas across this country.”
The two big aspects of that growth model, Levy argued, will be sports betting and streaming. He also disclosed that Tsai is looking at adding an e sports team to his sports portfolio.