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Monetizing the available canvas: Barclays Center operators gain advertising/promotional value from previously unused space around arena

Owners of the Barclays Center operating company--remember, the arena's technically owned by the state, to enable tax exemptions and tax-free financing--have long done whatever they can to monetize the building, exploiting ambiguous state guidelines and gentle state regulation.

What's notable is how the new ownership, a company owned by Joe Tsai, has taken that to another level, using, especially, digital signage.

The new canvas for promotions and advertising--on previously unusued or underutilized space--is surely worth big bucks.

One non-digital example, as shown at right: recently installing a Brooklyn Nets logo and slogan ("Embrace Your Brooklyn") on the west-facing wall outside the arena's secondary entrance on Dean Street. That wall was previously without any logo or message.

The roof

Early on, the operating company owned by Forest City Ratner (with a minority share from Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim) took advantage by installing a huge Barclays Center logo on the arena's roof, which was--despite claims to the contrary--visible to those on the ground. 

Later, a version of the logo was installed on the green roof, which was less a beautification element than an attempt to tamp down escaping bass.

Flatbush Avenue signage

The retail spaces along Flatbush Avenue going south from the arena box office once had relatively demure, static metal signage, such as for the team store, once called the Swag Shop, as shown in the image at right.

That team store, given both the ambitions of team owners and the (apparent) inability of arena operators to find long-term tenants, expanded to the full frontage along Flatbush.

It briefly became Brooklyn Style, but is now Brooklyn Fanatics, as shown in the video below, with full digital signage.


Promoting the team

While some of that Flatbush Avenue frontage has been used for promotional signage, from what I recall, the canvas outside the box office had not been deployed as extensively as it is now, as shown in the photo at right.

Of course, this is all somewhat relative: the arena already has a massive sign advertising Barclays Center, the naming rights partners, over the images of the team. But the overall effecti is cumulative.

The LED signage

The main digital advertising/promotional platform was long the digital screen inside the oval oculus, the metal extension of the building's shell. 

Yes, there were layers of static advertising inside the building. Under Tsai, however, the arena instituted a massive addition: a rectangular digital LED screen that augments the oculus, showing advertising and even game snippets.

This was never anticipated nor evaluated, but it has been permitted.

Wrapping the transit entrance

The structure in the plaza housing the entrance to the below-ground subway tracks was supposed to be temporary, like the plaza, but it looks to be permanent.

The walls of that structure were long blank, but only recently have begun to feature advertising, such as from CBRE and, most recently, the Christie's auction of the Andy Warhol portrait of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

From wayfinding to advertising

The plaza initially included static directional pillars, pointing visitors in various directions. This was promotional, in its way, with the Barclays Center logo, as well as the logo of (earlier) sponsor, Resorts World International.

During the (not always peaceful) protests in 2020, one of the two pillars was damaged, as shown in the photo/caption excerpted at right from the Daily News, with one metal plate dislodged, and a fire set below.

That gave the arena operator a chance to imagine more modern signage, which is of course digital, offering touch-screen information as well as another canvas for advertising, as shown in the photo at left, featuring an ad from new plaza sponsor SeatGeek, with the new "We belong here" neon art installation in the background.

New canvas for promotion

I'll write more about the new neon art installation, but it can be seen in multiple ways, including promotional/reputational benefits for Tsai and indirect advertising for the arena, especially when seen in concert with the SeatGeek promotion.

As I wrote last week, the new canvas for art is another governmental gift of promotional space.

A canvas eschewed, for now

Note that the arena company, for now, is not using the horizontal wall just inside the transit entrance for advertising/promotion, something it began using only a few years ago. 

While the space was most notably used for a (purported) quote from Angela Davis during the 2020 protests, it was previously used for advertising from the company Roman, which markets products treating erectile dysfunction and more, as shown in the photo at right.

It makes sense that arena operators, for now, are trying to not overload the landscape with advertising just inside the transit entrance, which might clash, esthetically and philosophically, with "We belong here."