SBJ/October 17-23, 2011/Facilities

Brooklyn Sports signs AEG Facilities to help operate Barclays Center

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment has signed a multiyear deal with AEG Facilities to provide operational support at Barclays Center, the New Jersey Nets’ arena under construction in Brooklyn.

The agreement falls in line with Brooklyn Sports’ strategy to find the best resources to operate New York’s first new arena in 43 years. For Los Angeles-based AEG, a firm specializing in sales and marketing, it provides a greater foothold in the country’s No. 1 market.

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Barclays Center is slated to open in fall 2012.
AEG has appointed Steve Rosebrook as vice president of operations and David Anderson as vice president of event and guest services. Both facility managers come from AEG properties and have experience operating NBA facilities. They report to John Sparks, Barclays Center’s general manager and an employee of Brooklyn Sports, the Nets’ arena management firm. Sparks, whom the Nets hired in May, came from AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs.

The deal is the latest move by Brooklyn Sports in an expanding relationship with AEG that officially started in the summer of 2010. At that time, Brooklyn Sports signed a three-year deal with Golden Boy Productions, co-owned by AEG, to book fights at Barclays Center.

In February, Brooklyn Sports hired talent buyer Sean Saadeh as its vice president of programming. Saadeh came from Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., where he worked for AEG Facilities to book events at the Phoenix Coyotes’ facility.

AEG Facilities runs Staples Center, Target Center and the Rose Garden, among others. The company has booking and marketing deals at other NBA and NHL venues, including AT&T Center.

Some industry insiders think AEG’s latest role in Brooklyn covers much more territory than simply providing the Nets with IT staff, ushers, ticket takers and security personnel. Going with AEG, insiders say, further guarantees more non-NBA events will come to Barclays Center through AEG Live, AEG’s sister company and North America’s second-biggest concert promoter.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said the AEG deal is “not a content play” but one in which AEG provides “bench strength” in arena operations. Across the board, Brooklyn Sports will provide opportunities for all promoters to book shows in the facility.

“Maintaining a neutral position as it relates to programming the building is my No. 1 priority,” he said.

Structuring AEG’s deal for management support instead of a booking exclusive enables Brooklyn Sports to develop a working relationship with Live Nation, North America’s top promoter, as Barclays Center competes for events in the New York market. Live Nation has strong ties to Madison Square Garden, both on the event side and at the corporate level. In June, MSG Executive Chairman Jim Dolan was appointed to Live Nation’s board of directors.

Barclays Center opens Sept. 28 with six to 10 concerts by hip-hop artist Jay-Z, part-owner of the Nets.

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