Will Barclays Center be a game changer on the arena scene?
Onome Ogeleza crossed Atlantic Avenue on a recent Sunday and took a glance back at the construction site of the $1 billion Barclays Center behind him.
"This whole area's going to look like a Times Square — only in Brooklyn," said Ogeleza, 26, who was visiting from Sunset Park to play basketball near the Atlantic Yards site. "Like a Madison Square Garden, but a little bit closer."
When the Barclays Center opens in September 2012 with three weeks of events ahead of the relocating Nets' basketball season, the new complex is expected to rival New York’s other sports venues for spectator dollars enough to alter the dynamic among the area's sports and entertainment venues. Even a winning Nets debut in the 2012-13 season — seen as a key factor for the young venue in attracting ticket-buyers and corporate sponsors — would account for only about 50 dates, but arena managers say they've booked more than 100 other events, including monthly boxing matches; tennis, college basketball and hockey games; and family shows and concerts — with plans for more than 200 events annually.
“Obviously people are going to want to go the Barclays Center at first glance because it’s new,” said NYU sports business professor Wayne McDonnell. “But you’re going to want to sustain an audience.
“If [Nets part-owner] Jay-Z does five sold-out nights there, that’s unbelievable,” McDonnell added. “But then you go from that to Long Island University playing Wagner College in a hockey game — it’s not going to sustain it.”
Madison Square Garden, which spun off last year from Cablevision, the parent company of amNewYork, suggested that the home of the Knicks and Rangers was unperturbed by the advent of a new direct competitor.
"While we always respect any competition, the Garden will always be the Garden," the Garden said in a statement. "Madison Square Garden is located in the heart of New York City, sitting on top of the busiest transportation hub in the nation. The Garden hosts over 400 events annually and has been a destination for New Yorkers and visitors to the city for over 130 years."
Given an opportunity to respond, Nets CEO Brett Yormark said Brooklyn is a "distinctly different market," adding that "there is not a better location in the country than ours."
"The Garden will always be the Garden. There's no question about it. It's iconic. But the Barclays Center is going to someday be very iconic as well," Yormark said. "The market is ... big enough for us both to be very successful. And that's how I look at it. I don't look over my shoulder at anyone."
Spokespersons for several other area venues declined requests for comment.