New York's Barclays Center Eyes L.A. Expansion

Bruce Damonte
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York

The sports and entertainment venue, about to take over two other New York landmarks, sees a Hollywood presence as vital to its business.

The group behind the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, says it is expanding to add a presence in Los Angeles within the next three months.

The plan is to hire a veteran executive with close connections to the entertainment industry "who has spent time on the West Coast and knows how to navigate all the mines that exist," Barclays CEO Brett Yormark tells The Hollywood Reporter.

Barclays is not expanding its business activities to L.A. or anywhere else outside the New York area, at least not yet. But L.A. is now on its radar with plans for the future.

"Our goal is to create some scale in the New York metropolitan area," says Yormark. "And then beyond that, selectively identify markets where it makes sense for us to go. We will only go to places we can control and own. We're not in the programming business per se. We're in the booking business."

Execs want someone on the West Coast, just as they have people in New York and elsewhere who can spearhead industry relationships to help build their businesses.

"I think it's important for someone to be out there," says Yormark, "to nurture the many relationships you have to have in this industry. And when it does come down to a jump ball about where an artist might play, having the relationships that matter most will be critical to our success."

This executive is expected to feed a pipeline of artists, shows, concerts, family events, sporting events (including boxing) and more to venues controlled by Barclays and its affiliates.

He or she is expected to not only supply talent and events for the 15,000-plus-seat Barclays Center, and for the adjacent 7,000-seat Cushman & Wakefield Theater, but also two additional venues the group is taking on — the Nassau Coliseum and, as announced last week, the historic Brooklyn Paramount Theater on the campus of Long Island University, which will have a maximum of 3,500 seats. The Brooklyn Paramount has been out of business as a performing art venue and movie theater for many years.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale (on Long Island), first opened in 1972, is undergoing $229 million in renovations, with an opening targeted for December 2016.

The Paramount, opened in 1928 as one of the first theaters for talking movies, is getting a $50 million makeover, with an opening scheduled for fall 2017. It has been used in recent years as an adjunct to L.I.U.

While many of the concerts, shows and events will be provided by AEG, Live Nation and other major promoters — with whom Yormark insists they will not compete — the hope is that they can also attract special events, including one-time shows by major artists. They have already been doing it with performances by Billy Joel, Barbra Streisand and others.

In February, Barclays Center launched Brooklyn Direct, a programming division meant to work directly with agents and managers to book non-exclusive, non-touring artists and to curate live content from college sports to star performances.

Since it opened Sept. 28, 2012, the Barclays Center has quickly become a major sports and entertainment venue. It not only is the home of the Brooklyn Nets pro basketball team, but beginning with the 2015-16 season will have the New York Islanders hockey team under a new 25-year contract.

 

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