Plugged In: Brett Yormark, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment
Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment recently marked its five-year anniversary since opening Barclays Center, the centerpiece of the company’s entertainment portfolio led by CEO Brett Yormark. BSE now includes the NBA Nets, Barclays Center, the business operations of the New York Islanders, NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum, the G League Long Island Nets and a partnership in the Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn and Webster Hall in New York City. Longtime industry veteran Yormark has been leading BSE since its inception and has played a key role in the company’s ambitious efforts to grow into a major entertainment player. After five years, more changes are ahead with a possible sale of the Nets and other new programming efforts.
What we need to consistently do is create a point of differentiation because of the competitive landscape.”
On how the Barclays Center programming strategy has evolved over the past five years: When we first got to Brooklyn, it was about the volume of events and the variety. We wanted to test as much as we could to determine what the appetite of the fan was. What has changed is that we had to evolve into being a big event business and making sure we are bringing events to the building that matter the most. When you look at the past five years, we came to Brooklyn as operators of a team and of a building. In a short period of time, we have the Nets and the Islanders, we have the G League Long Island Nets and the other venues and our training center. We have offices now in Brooklyn and a sales office on Park Avenue and in Los Angeles and potentially one in London. It’s been a fast-paced and exciting five years.
On the challenges of operating Barclays Center: What we need to consistently do is create a point of differentiation because of the competitive landscape. We constantly emphasize Brooklyn as a market that has a cool and hip factor. It’s the combination that creates a reason for artists to come here for the first time and to keep coming back. We have to be mindful of maintaining the cost structure. At the end of the day, it’s great that your food is terrific, but artists want to make money and I have to keep an eye of managing our cost structure so artists and events can come here and make money.
On the Islanders’ business struggles at Barclays Center: The economics just don’t work. It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped.
On his favorite event in the arena’s five-year history: There have been so many, but it has to be opening night with Jay Z. There will be nothing to compare to that given our journey and so many naysayers. It was the crowning validation of an almost nine-year journey into Brooklyn.