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Surprise! Barclays Center drops SeatGeek as ticket partner, returns to Ticketmaster. Aiming to book more shows? Surely, SeatGeek Plaza to be renamed.

This signage will change
Well, it's the first Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park surprise of 2023: as the New York Times reported last night, after barely 15 months into a 7-year contract with ticketing partner SeatGeek, the Barclays Center is returning to its original one, Ticketmaster, the industry leader.

Unmentioned in the Times: surely the arena plaza, named upon the arena's opening in 2012 for the New York Daily News and later Resorts World Casino NYC, will have to be re-branded from SeatGeek Plaza.

That offers another sponsorship opportunity, and potentially new revenue. In either case, the ticketing process involves significant extra fees for ticket buyers.

"Abrupt switch" aimed to book more shows?

The Times article, written by music industry reporter Ben Sisario, suggested that the rare and "abrupt switch," which begins with newly booked shows--including one announced yesterday for May 11--may have been driven by a desire to book more concerts, given Ticketmaster's long-term partnership with concert promoter Live Nation.
This signage will change

That said, neither BSE Global, parent of the arena operating company, nor SeatGeek would comment to the Times on that issue and a Live Nation rep said that the company had not retaliated against Barclays for not using the firm.

The Times reported that concert bookings have lagged--more on that below--but didn't mention, as I reported in my 2022 roundup, the arena's steady losses and that event totals for the last fiscal year, ending in June 2022, have been behind expectations.

The New York Post had reported that there were just 147 events projected for the year, as opposed to 194 in the last pre-pandemic year, but the number turned out to be 137.

Competition from UBS?

It's not quite clear, but the entry to the regional market of the more modern UBS Arena at Belmont Park in western Nassau County, which opened in November 2021 and offers far easier (and thus less expensive) load-in for major concert tours, surely has meant competition. 

The arena operators said they aimed to make UBS a second choice for tours after Madison Square Garden. (Update: see more at bottom.)

Note that the UBS naming rights deal is a reported $15 million a year, which suggests that the Barclays deal, at $10 million a year, is vastly undervalued--and ripe for renegotiation.

Ticketmaster cuts both ways?

The numbers seem to cut both ways. The Times reported:
But data from Pollstar, a trade publication that covers the live music business, shows that Barclays Center received 13 Live Nation-promoted tours in the year after SeatGeek took over the venue’s ticketing business — a drop for Barclays, which in the years before the pandemic had tended to get about two dozen Live Nation events annually.

However during the same period, from 2016 through 2019, the data also indicates the venue hosted fewer shows from independent promoters — those not associated with Live Nation or its major competitor, AEG Presents — from an average of more than 50 a year to less than 20 in the year after SeatGeek took over. 
In other words, while signing with SeatGeek may have made it more difficult to book certain tours, working with Ticketmaster had its bumps, as well.

A shocker

The Times called the change "head-spinning news in the lucrative ticketing business" and quoted a source saying that it was unprecedented in the past decade, given that ticketing deals are typically not short-term.

When the SeatGeek deal was announced in July 2021 (and set to take effect in October 2021), the press release stated:
“BSE Global and SeatGeek have similar DNA when it comes to innovating and adapting to the ever-evolving preferences of the live event consumer market,” said BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi. “We see great potential in leveraging SeatGeek’s latest technological developments and collaborating with them on ways to enhance the fan experience at Barclays Center.
Of course, Abbamondi lasted just two years helming the arena company, replaced last June by Sam Zussman. So presumably this was a Zussman decision.

SeatGeek was an upstart. The Brooklyn Nets were to become "SeatGeek’s third NBA partner and the Liberty will become the first WNBA partner, joining a strong SeatGeek partnership roster that includes the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Pelicans, the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals, and Major League Soccer," according to that press release.

Renting out the plaza?

Updated 4 pm. The arena says the information I linked to was out of date and that the correct info is here, which no longer offers the opportunity to rent out the plaza.

Note that the publicly-accessible, privately operated (and sponsored) plaza is was also a venue that the arena operator can control.

Oddly enough, an outdated page on the not-quite up-to-date arena website still offered--at least when I checked this morning--the opportunity to rent out Resorts World Casino Plaza.

The URL I checked was, while the current URL is The former URL now resolves to the latter.

However, as of earlier today, when the Internet Archive captured the former page, it was still offering the opportunity to rent the Resorts World Casino Plaza. My guess is that that page, though out of date, had not been deleted or redirected until today, which is why I found it from a previous link on my site.

That said, I should've checked the main website, which, as as shown in the screeenshot below, does not offer the opportunity to rent the plaza.

In other words, they were supposed to update that by October 2021. From the previous promotional page:
Host your outdoor festival in the heart of Brooklyn at the lively intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. With the glass-walled exterior of Barclays Center as a backdrop and the one-of-a-kind oculus video board ready to be programmed specifically for your event, there’s no outdoor space quite like it.

Update: evidence from Ticket News

Ticket News reported on some evidence beyond the simple data that Barclays got fewer Live Nation-promoted tours after the switch:

Instead, some very high-profile shows were routed through UBS Arena, which does use Ticketmaster. That building, despite being located much further from the city center of New York (though still in the very populous Nassau County further out on Long Island) was chosen for shows including Daddy Yankee, The Who, Post Malone, Twenty One Pilots, Journey, Tool, Dua Lipa, Billie Eilish and a “one-night-only” performance by Harry Styles in May of 2022 that preceded his major “Harry’s House” run in another Ticketmaster client NYC venue, Madison Square Garden.