SBJ/April 4-10, 2011/Facilities

Barclays Center shopping for a GM after Diaz’s departure

Don Muret
Madison Square Garden
’s hiring of Alex Diaz as senior vice president and general manager has opened up a lucrative opportunity for a veteran facility operator to take over across town at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Nets’ new arena opening in September 2012.

Diaz held the same position for the Nets and played a key role in developing the $1 billion facility after joining the team six years ago. Now that MSG has snatched Diaz to take charge of the Garden’s $977 million restoration over the next three years — a move some may see as a shot fired across the bow by the Garden to keep its new competitor at bay in the nation’s biggest market — the Nets are turning to New York executive search firm James & Co. to find his replacement in the next 45 to 60 days.

For Barclays Center, the ideal candidate has experience opening a major league facility in an urban market and a keen understanding for building operations and the issues tied to moving people in and out of the arena in a community of 2.7 million residents, said Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Nets Sports and Entertainment, the team’s arena operations division.

In addition, the new Barclays Center hire will embrace customer service and have experience working with unions, an important part of managing a big league building in a city where organized labor pulls the strings on many facets of arena and stadium operations.

James & Co. officials know the Barclays Center project well. The NBA club used the same headhunter to hire Diaz and Yormark, and most recently Sean Saadeh, the Nets’ new vice president of programming. Saadeh arrived in February from Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., where he worked for AEG Facilities to book events at the NHL arena.

Barclays Center’s grand opening is set for Sept. 28, 2012, capping a three-week run of soft openings tied to open houses and community events, Yormark said. The event that day should be announced in the next 30 days.

As of last week, Nets Sports and Entertainment had 149 dates confirmed for Barclays Center’s first year of operation.

DETROIT TIGERS
The D Shop Presented by Majestic is a 6,000-square-foot store behind home plate at Comerica Park in Detroit.
TIGER TOWN: Delaware North Sportservice
, in partnership with the Detroit Tigers, has opened a newly expanded retail store at Comerica Park called The D Shop Presented by Majestic.

The 6,000-square-foot store is behind home plate to the left of the big tiger sculpture sitting outside the park. It was previously an unfinished warehouse space that opened only to sell merchandise for some of the Tigers’ bigger games, team spokesman Ron Colangelo said.

The D Shop will go heavy on Majestic’s line of Gameday Authentics apparel in addition to selling high-end Tigers-branded items, such as reclining chairs and barbecue grills.

“The Old English D logo still resonates throughout the state of Michigan and globally,” Colangelo said. “Our merchandise sells. It’s a tribute to Sportservice. They keep it fresh. There are over 100 new items coming into that store alone.”

The new store is Comerica Park’s seventh walk-in retail location and its first new permanent one since 2007.

WINNERS: American Airlines Center’s booking of the Charlie Sheen tour is a direct result of the actor’s relationship with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban has had conversations with Sheen about developing a new show for HDNet, the television channel Cuban owns. Knowing that was the case, arena officials decided to schedule Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option Show” tour in the building’s 6,000-seat theater setup.

As of last week, the arena had sold about 3,800 tickets for the April 27 event, including 30 VIP packages priced at $750, said Dave Brown, American Airlines Center’s vice president and general manager.

Regular ticket prices in Dallas are $49.50, $69.50 and $89.50. A sellout would generate $410,000 in gross ticket sales, Brown said.

The Sheen tour, produced by Live Nation, is also booked for the St. Pete Times Forum and BankAtlantic Center, two NHL arenas; the Chicago Theatre and Radio City Music Hall, both owned by Madison Square Garden; and Detroit’s Fox Theatre, owned by Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.

In Tampa, the Lightning had sold fewer than 2,000 tickets for its 6,000-seat Blue Line Theatre configuration, team officials said.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @BreakGround.

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