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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Sports Arena Games: New Jersey Nets to Newark
The New Jersey Nets have concluded an agreement, just announced, to move to Newark's new Prudential Center for at least the next two seasons. This means the Nets will be playing in Newark starting in 2010-11. As for beyond the 2011-12 season, the new Barclays Center arena has yet to break ground and there is no assurance that it will ever be built, much less on time.
From an economic standpoint, the Nets are doing a good thing (and their new, Russian oligarch owner surely agrees) by moving to a superior facility that fans will enjoy going to and getting to. The Nets currently play at the Izod Center (nee Continental Arena, nee Brendan Byrne Arena), which became outmoded about 20 years ago -- i.e., it became obsolete only a decade after its construction -- for sports teams requiring multiple revenue streams from high-rolling fans and corporations.
Many years ago, I did substantial research and contacted the operators of most New York area sports venues regarding arena rental fees and related contracts in connection with an effort to launch a new professional indoor soccer franchise in the New York / New Jersey market. Rest assured, these operators move heaven and earth to get in anything which pays. A dark night is a money loser for any building. Ideally, these arenas would operate 365 days a year, and even host multiple events in one day. (The Pru and MSG routinely have multiple sports events in one day, generating multiple revenue streams through eyeball counts for ads, pleasing sponsors, concessions, and even local parking.) Sometimes these buildings will take a "chance," offering to take a cut of the gate receipts as an alternative to a fixed, upfront fee.
The Nets' move to Newark is a win-win. The acoustics at Izod have been terrible, with the noise going straight up into a vacuum. For a sports event, it is equally terrible. (Ironically, at the outdated and cramped Nassau Coliseum, acoustics and sightlines are great, but the building is built for 14,000 fans and has rest rooms for fewer.)
Eric Dixon is an attorney and strategic analyst who has previously been involved with potential indoor soccer franchise management groups, and who handles legal and strategic analytic matters for various clients.