SBD/October 26, 2012/Franchises

Islanders Face Issues With Relocation, But Should Reap Financial Benefit

Wang indicated that the Islanders' name and team colors would remain
The N.Y. TIMES’ Jeff Klein examined some issues facing the Islanders' move to Barclays Center and noted the team can “probably expect an attendance infusion.” Barclays Center likely will hold around 15,000 for hockey games, which would be the smallest capacity in the NHL. But the Islanders averaged just 13,191 at Nassau Coliseum last season, “29th in the 30-team league.” The Islanders also will “probably be able to increase their average ticket price.” Addressing why the team would move from one facility to another where it would still be a tenant, Klein wrote, “The short answer: $35 million in extra revenue per year. That goes a long way toward wiping out the club’s current operating deficit, estimated at $8 million per year.” Nassau Coliseum, built in '72 and “barely renovated since, has 31 luxury suites and a relatively small number of high-priced premium seats.” Spotlight TMS CEO & Co-Founder Tony Knopp, whose firm manages corporate-ticket sales at Barclays Center, estimated that the suites at the Coliseum “generate about $3 million a year and the premium seats about $16 million.” Barclays Center, which is "far more geographically convenient to corporate customers than the Coliseum, has 104 luxury suites.” Knopp estimated that those suites would “generate about $21 million for the Islanders, while premium seating would generate an additional $33 million.” Meanwhile, Islanders Owner Charles Wang indicated the team's name and colors will remain the same, but Klein wrote it will be hard for Wang "to ignore the marketing mother lode the Nets have mined in switching from New Jersey red, white and blue to Brooklyn black.” Online retailer Fanatics.com said that sales of Nets merchandise have “increased by 3,000 percent this month from the same period last year” (NYTIMES.com, 10/25).

SPACIOUS SETTING
: Wang addressed the seating capacity of Barclays Center, saying that Islanders fans “will find room among the 15,000 or so seats that will be available.” Wang: “If you look at the Coliseum, we have about 16,200 seats in the arena. I wish I could say to you, 'Gee, we're sold out every night.' As you know, we're not.” He added, “Yes, we should be so lucky as to have a problem (in Brooklyn) of not having enough seats. When we say 14,500, we're talking about unobstructed seats. We have to work on it. At 15,000, it's really good, it's an intimate environment" (NEWSDAY, 10/26). But in Toronto, Steve Buffery writes, “Here’s my problem with the Islanders moving to Brooklyn: It’s another example of a league attempting to use a venue (Barclays Center) as the main attraction in marketing a team, which never works, at least not for long.” Buffery: “Fancy, new arenas don’t stabilize franchises. There has to be a market for the sport” (TORONTO SUN, 10/26).

ALL GOOD IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD
: On Long Island, Neil Best wonders whether the Islanders might “prove more of a business threat” to the Rangers in Brooklyn. MSG President & CEO Hank Ratner said, “We'll see what happens. We look at it that the Islanders are still in the marketplace. If they go to Brooklyn, I think they'll continue that traditional rivalry. It's a great thing for us, the Islanders and the sport of hockey” (NEWSDAY, 10/26).
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Franchises, New York Islanders, NHL

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