When downtown Brooklyn’s new $1 billion Barclays Center opened Sept. 28, it was for the first of eight sold-out concerts by native son Jay-Z, and brought together people from all walks of business.
With the persistence and funding of developer Bruce Ratner, the Barclays Center opened only after wading through nine years of litigation, the worst economy since the Great Depression and an NBA lockout.
|After nine years of litigation, economic woes and an NBA lockout, the Barclays Center — home of the Brooklyn Nets — opens with a birthday party and a concert.
It was a smile also fueled by a first-year arena schedule now approaching 210 events, on display at the first party in the new arena’s Calvin Klein Club.
“It’s a Brett-fest,” NBA executive vice president Mark Tatum said with a laugh.
“This is the first big music event where the sports industry turned out,” said Scout Sports and Entertainment chief Michael Neuman,
|Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark
Other sport-types spotted: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, YES Network President Tracy Dolgin, Golden Boy Promotions Chief Marketing Officer Bruce Binkow, CAA Sports sales executive Paul Danforth, Leverage Agency head Ben Sturner and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, himself a former rapper. On the athlete side, there was a host of Nets players and New York Giants salsa dancer Victor Cruz.
Other guests at the “Yormarkathon” included
|Yormark’s birthday cake
Not everyone at the “pregame” was aware that opening night was Yormark’s birthday. No one was especially surprised when they found out, their amusement enhanced by years of knowing Yormark, the sports industry’s answer to Tony Robbins, for his relentlessness and predilection for PR.
“You’ve got to admire his sales ability and tenacity in seeing that building through all those years,” commented a former co-worker, “but we
|The NBA’s Mark Tatum and Coca-Cola’s Bea Perez at the Calvin Klein Club party
Many in the business-to-business crowd were there to take in the opening-night sights and fete Yormark.
“I’ve worked with Brett since his NASCAR days [1998-2005], so this is like seeing a friend of yours get married,” said longtime Coke marketer Bea Perez, currently the company’s chief sustainability officer. “There was a vision for this place, and they saw it through so many years of frustration.”
How the night came to coincide with Yormark’s birthday remains a bit fuzzy. Yormark said, “It
|Nets minority owner Jay-Z appears in the first in a series of concerts.
That included a surfeit of family: twin brother and Sunrise Sports and Florida Panthers President Michael Yormark, mistaken time and again for his sibling, along with their children, and Brett and Michael’s mother, Arlene Sloan, who recalled another event all those years ago.
“You know, I was a single working parent for their first bar mitzvah, so we had this little lunch for maybe 30 people,” she said, struggling to be heard above the rap thumping across the 18,000-seat arena. “This one was a little more elaborate.”