In an interview with Prime Time Russia, Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders, and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark spoke at length about the business side of the three entities that he controls.
“Fan loyalty is critical,” Yormark said, “especially when you open up a building like the Barclays Center. It’s not difficult to get anyone to come once, the question is how do you keep getting them coming back time and time again. There’s lots of different ways you do that: obviously you have to have great content. Whether that’s the team, like the Nets, or other concerts that we host at Barclays Center.”
What about the guest experience? Yormark states “Another big component is the guest experience and how you define that guest experience differently than any other venue in the marketplace. We invested a lot into the guest experience. One, the food and beverage experience of the Barclays Center is very premium; it speaks to Brooklyn…
“More important is that we engaged Disney. When someone goes to a Disney Park in the U.S., they find the experience there to be unlike anywhere else they go; they’re treated like a celebrity. Our goal is to treat anyone who comes into our building like a celebrity. So Disney does all of our on-boarding, they do all of our employee training.”
When asked how difficult it is to bring the fans of the New Jersey Nets along with them to Brooklyn, Yormark noted that “The goal is to encourage them and give them a reason to make that commute. Whether it’s from Jersey to Brooklyn or Nassau County to Brooklyn. And I think we’ve done that, specifically with respect to the Nets.”
Yormark says that he believes sports organizations are ran more as businesses than with true respect to the sport and the team. He says that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov “expects them to run it like a business.”
Yormark was asked whether the Nets would sign a player simply for his marketability. He says, “We have these discussions internally often when there’s an opportunity to sign a player, but I think what trumps all of that is making sure we are the most successful team on the court as possible.
“It really stops with talent; if that player is the most talented player available, then I think it’s fair to say our GM Billy King is going to go after that player. If someone less talented, but more marketable, I’m not sure the conversation will last that long.”