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SBD/September 24, 2012/FacilitiesPrint All
The Nets have “never been able to make a significant dent into the immense popularity of the Knicks” in the N.Y. area, but the days of “being able to ignore the Nets are over” with the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday, according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. Despite “plying their trade within shouting distance of the New York City skyline,” the Nets had spent the “last 35 years fighting to gain a foothold in the New York market.” Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, “I think when we were in New Jersey, we didn’t really have the platform to do that. We were the after thought. We were certainly the second team in the market. That’s not debatable.” Now the team has “become one of the most talked-about teams in the league.” Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said, “I think every NBA team needs to establish a strong sense of identity based on where it is located, who the players are and what the fans relate to. In terms of the Knicks, honestly I just think it’s great for everyone that a real rivalry is being born, most of all for the fans.” He added, “We’re ready to fight for the heart of every one of them.” The Nets have “gotten off to a good start, thanks to the wildly successful launch of the team’s redesigned logo and color scheme on April 30.” The demand for the merchandise “has far exceeded what both the Nets and the NBA had anticipated.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, “I think, in many things, we may have underestimated how broad the appeal would be for the team. We anticipated much of it would come, but not until later in the life of the arena and the team” (N.Y. POST, 9/23).
WELCOME TO THE NEW NETS: CNBC.com’s Brian Shactman wrote a “transformation was clear” at Friday's ribbon cutting for the Barclays Center. The New Jersey Nets were “never cool,” but the “BROOKLYN Nets are.” Yormark said, "We've sold 11,000 season tickets. That's an all-time high for the Nets." He added that the team will be "profitable in year No. 1 in Brooklyn.” Yormark said of competing with MSG and the Knicks for sponsorship money, media coverage and fan support, "We don't think about them. But we do want to create a rivalry on the court" (CNBC.com, 9/21). Prokhorov said, “We are on the right way and I'm expecting our championship within three years now." ESPN N.Y.’s Mike Mazzeo wrote Prokhorov “confidently said he believes [Billy] King will be ‘GM of the Year,’ and he doesn't care how much money he has to pay in luxury taxes.” Prokhorov: "You can add it up. I don't want to do your job, but for me it's most important to have a championship." Prokhorov plans on “attending 25 percent of the team's regular-season games,” and he also was “guaranteeing" a '13 playoff appearance. He added his ultimate goal is to "make a small dynasty team." Prokhorov said of the arena, "It's a dream, for me, what we see now. I think it's the best arena in the world. I'm expecting a great rivalry with the Knicks" (ESPNNY.com, 9/21). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote Prokhorov at Friday’s opening was “on his best behavior, choosing not to take any shots at the Knicks or Jim Dolan.” Perhaps he "understood that the day was bigger than he is” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22).
FABULOUS FACILITY: In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro wrote Yormark has “every right to be proud of what he and [developer] Bruce Ratner accomplished” with the Barclays Center. D’Alessandro: “And even if you loathe this rust-colored monolith that sprang up in the middle of Brooklyn, your respect for the human effort it took to build this $2 billion arena takes the form of befuddled awe.” The new facility “could be a special basketball arena.” The “cleverest feature is a 3,000-square-foot oculus hovering over the front concourse, which serves as a 360-degree marquee.” Fans can watch the game as soon as they "step out of the subway station, because the giant HD scoreboard is visible from the main plaza, 50 yards from [the] atrium door.” Inside Barclays Center is “all black and white, with terrific sight lines, and Yormark has resisted the temptation to splash logos over the empty spaces, giving the interior a pure and spartan feel” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/22). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay wrote, “By now you may have walked past this arena and gazed upon its reddish exterior and wondered, ‘Hmm, are they going to paint that thing?’ The answer is no, they are not -- it is weathered steel. It will not be painted hot pink. … What it looks like now is what it looks like.” Friday's ceremony was “an opportunity to gaze inside,” and there was “evidence of fussy attention to Brooklyn detail.” In addition to the exterior, the “rest of the place is slick” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/22). The WALL STREET JOURNAL also provided a graphic breakdown of the facility (WSJ.com, 9/21).
BIG TIME IN BROOKLYN: A N.Y. TIMES editorial stated the opening of Barclays Center in Brooklyn is “generally good news for the borough and the city,” as it “elevates what had been an underdeveloped area into a vibrant hub for basketball fans, shoppers and followers of such superstars as Jay-Z” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote, “After 55 years, Brooklyn is a major league town again. After 5 1⁄2 decades of so many stories trapped in yesterday, there is a sporting today and a sporting tomorrow worth talking about, and a sparkling new palace in which all of that future history will be played out” (N.Y. POST, 9/23).
MORE TO COME? In N.Y., Liz Robbins wrote the arena “stands as an island, a reminder of what is missing.” The 16 “surrounding towers -- primarily residential -- that were originally planned by the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, for the 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project have yet to be built.” The 10,000 or so jobs “promised have not materialized,” and of the “2,250 affordable housing units pledged out of 6,300, only 181 are planned for a first tower, and ground for the building has yet to be broken.” The air “tingles with the dust of last-second construction and mixed emotions: excitement and wariness, anger and resignation” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).
The Penguins said that neither AEG's management of the Sprint Center in K.C. nor Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle's ties with AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke "had anything to do" with AEG's new contract to manage the Consol Energy Center, according to Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. When AEG won a five-year contract to manage the center starting Sept. 1, it “marked the end of a long run for SMG,” which “managed the Civic Arena for two decades and opened the new arena in 2010." Penguins COO & General Counsel Travis Williams said, "We just thought to bring us to the next level, AEG was the best fit.” AEG managed the Sprint Center in K.C. in '07 when officials there offered the Penguins “free rent, no construction costs and other inducements to leave Pittsburgh.” In addition, Leiweke and Burkle had “teamed up with others on a bid to build a football stadium in the Los Angeles area.” SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that location was “a factor in the ability of SMG and concessionaire Aramark, both Philadelphia-area companies, to win business in Pittsburgh.” Ganis: “Just as SMG and Aramark had a foothold because of geography, I would not negate the geographic location of Burkle and his top people and AEG.” Belko noted the Penguins “decided to make the change even though the Consol Energy Center's first two years have been hugely successful.”
TOP-NOTCH: In the fiscal year ended June 30, the arena “played host to 167 events, including hockey games.” Williams said while that figure may be "well above average" for single-team venues, "We think we can continue to improve and get better." Williams added that the “concert world is changing.” The team believes that AEG, “because of its extensive arena holdings, is best equipped to handle such change.” Williams said that AEG's connections “can help Pittsburgh secure performers who may have bypassed the city in the past.” The team also is “interested in doing more intimate theater-style shows." AEG Facilities COO Bob Newman said that his company “differs from SMG and Global Spectrum in that it knows what it's like to own buildings, not just manage them.” Newman said, "We're partners. We're willing to take risks, invest in content or operational services, because we have to do it ourselves” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/23).
Over the weekend, "two developments offered optimism for a deal" between New York and the Bills for a new stadium lease, according to Tom Precious of the BUFFALO NEWS. The first was "a meeting in Manhattan on Friday between just state and county officials." But the "more promising sign might have been that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo spoke twice within 24 hours" to Bills Treasurer Jeffrey Littmann, who is a "key adviser" to Bills Owner Ralph Wilson. After those talks, "pessimism that the Cuomo administration expressed earlier in the week about team officials' resolve to keep the Bills in Buffalo seemed to subside." One state official on Saturday said, "Now we feel there is room to work and that there is good faith on both sides." Bills officials also "seemed optimistic Saturday." Senior administration officials said that the Cuomo administration "believes a reasonable lease commitment is 10 years." One state official said, "We need to know that we are financially protected in the case of the disaster scenario: that the Bills leave. If we invest to fix the stadium and they leave, we'll be heart broken. But we also don't want to be out $200 million." While some Bills fans and officials "have floated the idea of a new stadium, state officials said no such talks have occurred behind closed doors, and the team has only talked about renovating its current home" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/23). In Buffalo, Harold McNeil noted the talks on Friday were described as "very productive" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/22).
Vikings VP/Public Affairs & Stadium Development Lester Bagley last week said that the "most important decision the Minnesota Vikings have to make about their new stadium could be selecting the architect," according to Charley Walters of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. The team is "expected to do that within the next two weeks." Bagley said that odds "are 50-50 that the Vikings' $975 million stadium scheduled to open in 2016 will have a retractable roof." He said, "We're definitely analyzing a retractable feature, but maybe it makes more sense in our market to have a window or a wall with doors that open." Bagley said the odds of the stadium having a retractable roof "are steeper, just because of the snow-load issue." But he cautioned that it's "'premature' to analyze a retractable feature until an architect and construction manager is hired." Bagley: "It's got to fit in the $975 million budget" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 9/21).
STARTING SOMETHING NEW: In Minneapolis, Curt Brown notes yesterday "began the new era in Minnesota Vikings pre-game cuisine dubbed railgating." Thirteen food trucks "lined up side-by-side along the light-rail tracks near the Metrodome on Sunday morning." It is the "first of a series of steps" that Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak "hopes will enhance the buzz "around the new $975M stadium project. Rybak "acknowledged concerns from bar and restaurant owners, not to mention Vikings concessionaires, who might suffer from the food truck competition." More than 20 trucks are "signed up for the next Vikings home game Oct. 7 against Tennessee, which starts at 3:30 p.m. and has food truck operators salivating at the notion of more sales." The city "waived fees to encourage the food trucks to join the railgating debut, but they all had to pack up after kickoff." Attendees "all were smiling and police reported no public safety issues" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 9/24).