SBJ/April 21-27, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

First things first for Brett Yormark: A naming deal for Nassau

The Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets gathered together their business partners for the first time in nearly a year recently — and they had plenty to boast about.

Since the last sponsor summit in June 2013,
the building has hosted 172 events, including 56 concerts, while attracting more than 1.6 million spectators. The building also has been a critical success, as it won Facility of the Year at the 2013 SBJ/SBD Sports Business Awards and Pollstar’s Arena of the Year.

Still, between the lines, it seems the powers that be could be prepping for a larger play, with more arenas. With Nets/Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark so ensconced in selling and with the renovated Nassau Coliseum due to reopen in the fall of 2016 after a $229 million renovation as a retail and entertainment complex, you get the idea there are other facilities in the sights of Forest City’s Bruce Ratner, the developer behind the Brooklyn arena and the Nassau Coliseum facelift. “Ideally, we’ll put together a couple of these facilities where they look, feel and act the same,” Yormark said. “So you could say ‘That’s a Ratner venue.’ That’s something we’d like to pursue, but Nassau is the next step.”

Yormark touted the success of the last year and plans for the future at the Nets/Barclays Center Summit.
Photo by: ADAM PANTOZZI / BROOKLYN NETS

So, first things first. Industry sources said Yormark is on the street with a naming-rights package for the Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding 150,000 square feet of retail space with an asking price of $6 million to $7 million a year. Also for sale is a handful of founding-partner packages at $750,000 and up. Without confirming pricing, Yormark acknowledged that “Veterans Memorial Coliseum” will have to remain as a portion of the arena’s name even with any sale. With the walk-up period representing so much of the value of any naming-rights deal, his goal is to sell a title deal by the fall.
  
Closer to Brooklyn, the Nets are expected to take the wraps off a new practice facility in the area’s Industry City collection of rehabbed warehouses by the end of May.

> PURE SILVER: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver entertained the summit during a wide-ranging interview session. Looking ahead, Silver said technology represents a more immediate overseas prospect than international expansion. “It’s more of a digital and mobile opportunity,” he said. “Replicating that arena experience is going to come with advancements in digital media. [You’ll get] better access and better video.”

As for the long-awaited European expansion, Silver said, “I’m not ready to say we can get that done yet, but I think if any league can get that done, we can. However, we’re no bystander to what’s happening in Southern Europe and the economies there. A few years ago, we were a little more optimistic, but if there is 40 percent unemployment in Spain or whatever, we’re not going to be talking about putting a team there any time soon.”

Silver accepted that the 75-mile protected marketing area for NBA teams is an outdated concept, because of the Internet. “Those distinctions don’t make quite as much sense as they once did. … It’s a question of finding the right balance,” he said. “Team presidents are constantly bringing us opportunities and saying ‘Let’s keep tinkering with what historically has been viewed as local and what the league has viewed as national and international.’”

As for the concern across sports about the high-quality home viewing experience threatening live sports? “I hear the NFL saying a lot that because the HD experience is so great, that’s what accounts for flat attendance. … In an arena sport, we’re actually selling a very different experience,” Silver said. “I don’t think watching the game at home is a substitute. … It’s a communal experience: You go there to be with other people and cheer and jeer. My job is to find a way to replicate that experience, as opposed to worrying about if the HD experience is better. There’s no better experience than courtside seats to an NBA game. Through technology, we are trying to take that experience that only a minuscule amount of our fans will ever experience and find a way to bring it to the fans at home.”

Photo by: ADAM PANTOZZZI / BROOKLYN NETS
> MARKETING MAVERICK: Speaking in the iconoclastic style that’s become his hallmark, consultant/social media acolyte Gary Vaynerchuk told the assembled audience of marketing and media types that their marketing is passé.

“Most brands are marketing like it’s 2009,” he said, lobbying for a reapportionment of media spending more in line with where consumers are spending their time. He advised that while it won’t be easy to get a CMO who doesn’t understand Instagram or Snapchat to invest in them initially, “The single biggest reason people go out of business or leave opportunity on the table is that they are romantic about what they’ve done in the past and aren’t comfortable with challenging the status quo,” Vaynerchuk said. “The last 75 years of marketing will go down historically as the dark ages, when it wasn’t quantifiable.”

Vaynerchuk asked for a greater understanding of the psychology of those consuming social media, noting that the same woman looking at Facebook for 30 minutes brings an entirely different mindset when perusing her Pintrest account. With more consumers spending more time on their mobile devices, traditional ads are now anathema, he said.

“Every brand in the world is now a media company,” he said, citing Red Bull and GoPro as leading examples. “Brands need to elevate themselves out of just being salesmen. That means you will talk [to consumers] about passion instead of product. Then, you’ll get permission to sell to them."

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.


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