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Opening of Barclays Center begs question: Can NYC support five arenas?

Barclays Center

The opening of Barclays Center in Brooklyn raises some interesting issues for arena professionals, but the most important has to be whether the greater New York City market can support five arenas. The answer so far: a qualified yes.

With the Brooklyn Nets (NBA) taking up occupancy at the new arena, the greater New York City/New Jersey market has five major arenas: Madison Square Garden, Nassau Coliseum, Izod Center, Prudential Center and now Barclays Center. Now, whether all five are around in five years is certainly a question mark — with the defection of the New York Islanders from Nassau Coliseum, the long-term future of that antiquated facility is certainly at play — but at least for now the concert professionals say there’s enough room in a very large market for five facilities. From

Concert promoter John Scher said that the Barclays Center will accomplish the same thing that its Meadowlands counterpart did three decades ago — it will “expand the marketplace.”

“The reality is that there are simply more events than only one or two arenas can handle,” Scher said. “I think you’ll find that the total of all events in the metropolitan area will be larger now per year than in the past, and that’s good for everyone.”

Of course, it’s important that in this day and age it’s a little misleading to lump NYC/NJ as one market. New Jersey tends to be its own distinct market, with Prudential Center and Izod Center fighting it out for concert acts. But because the two setups are totally different: Izod Center is a very suburban arena with plenty of parking at the Meadowlands, while Prudential Center is an urban arena. With the addition of the Islanders and what’s turning into a distinct music lineup, Barclays Center is the glitzy upstart. And Madison Square Garden is still the Garden: it’s not lost any of its prestige and allure with the addition of Barclays Center.

The interesting thing here: by and large, sports are an important part of arena programming, but they’re not the be-all, end-all. Look at Izod Center, which has lost Nets basketball, Seton Hall basketball and New Jersey Devils hockey in recent years. The arena actually saw an uptick in events in 2012 over 2011, and officials there expect to turn a profit once again in 2013.

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