SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Barclays Center, Nets steer sales for Islanders

When it comes to sponsorship sales, who will put the puck in the net for the New York Islanders, even years before their planned 2015 move to the Barclays Center?

Hockey hall of famer Mike Bossy, the Islanders’ new vice president of corporate sponsorship and partnership marketing, made a sales pitch to the Barclays/Brooklyn Nets business partners assembled at a summit on the floor of the arena last week, and it was apparent that the Brooklyn organization is paramount.

The New York Islanders’ Mike Bossy addresses business partners of the Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets.
Photo by: TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
“This time of transition is a great opportunity,” said Bossy, after euphemistically calling the Islanders’ current, 41-year-old Nassau Coliseum home “vintage.” Still, the Barclays Center/Nets organization is driving the truck and gripping the wheel more firmly every day.

“Certainly, there’s still an Islanders sales staff, but we are running the business side of the Islanders today,” said Barclays Center/Nets CEO Brett Yormark. “They coordinate all decision-making through us. Our goal is to contemporise them and ensure a great transition to Brooklyn for a team with a great history.”

The Barclays organization is competing with outside developers and rival Madison Square Garden for the rights to rehab Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. If the Barclays bunch wins, control would get even tighter, and the Islanders could relocate to Brooklyn earlier than their planned move two years from now.

Beyond the addition of hockey to Barclays, consider the advantage that having an affiliated building some 22 miles east could give a promoter — and you can understand why MSG is also in the mix for renovating a building that has long been considered the NHL’s worst facility. “We’re looking to create a lot of scale for our events and relationships in the sports and entertainment community, and just think about the corridor of consumers we can tap into that stretches from Brooklyn out across Long Island,” Yormark said.

SUPER DAYS AHEAD: Yes, the next Super Bowl will be in New Jersey, but in what we expect will be the first of many New York-area venues looking to grab a piece of the biggest domestic sporting event, Barclays Center is planning a big week of programming before the NFL championship at MetLife Stadium, 14 miles away. The goal is for programming from Thursday to Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, including a high-profile Nets game, a top-shelf boxing card and a marquee mega-concert.

The working thematic: “Kickoff in Brooklyn.”

Expect a logo and marketing platform for the three nights, a formula that also will be used for the first anniversary week of Barclays Center in late September and a planned New Year’s Eve gala concert. These are all examples of what Elisa Padilla, vice president of marketing, said will be a bigger emphasis on marketing platforms along with an increased focus on multicultural marketing efforts.

AIR TRAFFIC: With JetBlue having signed a one-year deal as the official airline of Barclays Center before the building opened, look for a dogfight when it comes to the Brooklyn building’s airline category. Barclays appreciated JetBlue’s “Bound for Brooklyn” marketing campaign enough to give it an award as one the top sponsor activators. However, prospects like the pending $11 billion merger of American Airlines and US Airways, which will necessitate a rebrand, and increased marketing activity from United Airlines make the category a bit more attractive than in prior years. Aeroflot has a carve-out for foreign airline rights and is expected to renew. Otherwise, it’s about mining the burgeoning technology field for new dollars and selling Brooklyn’s reputation for cool.

“Yahoo’s CEO said they paid a billion dollars for Tumblr because Yahoo wanted to be cool,” Yormark said. “We cost a lot less than a billion, and when someone gets involved with us, that Brooklyn hip and cool makes an equity transfer, so we are looking for brands that want to get younger.”

LOYALTY PAYS: By the time Barclays Center marks its first anniversary on Sept. 28, SBJ’s 2013 Sports Facility of the Year will have hosted a total of 2.3 million people at more than 200 events. With that much traffic, naturally there’s a frequency/loyalty program in the works.

“We’re looking to add value, to promote trial, frequency and retention, and give our best customers a reason to go from partial-season tickets to half or full by adding benefits or get the person who went to one concert to go to four, or buy across our whole college basketball schedule, not just the one where their school is playing,” Yormark said.

Adding benefits like streaming proprietary arena content is also being considered. Yormark said he expects to see presentations for several different frequency/loyalty programs within this month and launch in the fall.

PLAY OUTSIDE: Nothing gets a sales force more excited than new inventory. Taking advantage of the broad exposure of the Barclays arena site in densely populated Brooklyn, the Barclays Center is looking at adding what will likely be a combination of static and electronic signage outside the arena on nearby Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, with what’s being called “Brooklyn Outdoor.”

Speaking of incremental inventory, Barclays Center marketers presented an array of presenting sponsor packages available for the arena’s second year. We’re not sure if all of these will be sold, but there are for sale signs on separate packages for the Nets’ regular season, the postseason, the Nets.com site, and all social and mobile content connected to the arena.

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