Friday, 2 October 2015

Let's Hear It For The Fans!

The New York Islanders are officially home in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, but there was still something off. As I wrote on Tuesday, the new goal horn was nothing short of laughable. In fact, there were some who had suggested that the Islanders may be better off being shut out at home all season rather than scoring goals and forcing the horn upon all in attendance at Barclays and anyone who may be watching on TV. Well, worry not, folks, as it appears that the Islanders and their social media monitoring have listened to the fans. At least that's what it looks like from appearances.

The Islanders announced today that the horn sound from the LIRR-inspired horn will no longer be heard at Barclays Center following Islanders' goals. It was rather surprising to hear that the Islanders used an LIRR-inspired horn as it was considering that most who use the LIRR find it more than frustrating as opposed to inspiring, but the Islanders thought differently. Fans disagreed and took to Twitter to express their unhappiness with this decision, and it seems the Islanders noticed.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, though, disagreed that the change back to the horn used at Nassau Coliseum has anything to do with the fans who expressed themselves on social media. Yormark was on The Michael Kay Show on Thursday where he explained the change back to the old horn. He stated,
"I think we've been very sensitive to the traditions of Islanders hockey. At the same time, we must broaden the fan base. We must reach out to Brooklynites and areas around Brooklyn to make this move viable.

"How do we do something that's authentic to Brooklyn? Authentic to the subway? Authentic to bringing the team to an urban market? I'm not acquiescing to the Islanders fans, I’m doing the right thing."
Oh, the right thing, you say? Yormark is free to believe whatever he wants including being the white knight who rides into town and fixes all the problems, but this was entirely about acquiescing to the fans who made it very clear through social media and an online petition that they weren't happy with the goal horn. I have no idea how a goal horn would "broaden the fan base" in terms of having Brooklynites show up to Islanders games, but apparently Yormark knows something that I don't when it comes to things that people usually consider when picking a team to follow.

He wasn't done with his comments, though, as Yormark explained to Kay on how the Islanders use social media to help them make decisions. He told Kay,
"We audit all the social media chatter of the people that commented. There was even a petition that was done by 650 fans, and only 30 were season-ticket holders. It's great to comment about what we're doing, and be critical of it. But I would ask all those people who signed the petition: now that you got your goal horn, sign up and buy season tickets."
So this was about acquiescing to the fans' wishes after all, making Yormark's previous statement about not giving into the fans' demands a lie. He does make good point in that people who complained about the goal horn need to show support for the Islanders in other ways, but to make this into a season-ticket sales pitch? Get off that high horse that you seemingly rode in on, Mr. Yormark, unless there's more to that statement.

It turns out there is a lot more to that statement. According to Stu Hackel of The Hockey News, "[t]he agreement to move the franchise includes the provision that the arena pays Islanders ownership an annual sum to play at Barclays Center and, in exchange, Barclays Center acquired all ticket and suite sales, sponsorships, marketing and promotions and their revenue. That arrangement was confirmed by Brett Yormark, the CEO of both the Barclays Center and the NBA Brooklyn Nets, the original team in the building, in a late June conversation."

And that's why season-ticket sales are important to Barclays Center - they benefit from every seat sold! As Hackel notes in his article, "[t]his isn't how most pro sports franchises function. They generally control the business side and through it, the team’s finances. Under this new model, the Islanders control none of the business revenue and that share they do get from Barclays is essentially capped by the agreement." In other words, every seat sold is vitally important to Yormark and the Barclays Center since they control the flow of money coming into the building. While the cost of staffing this portion of the business goes down for the Islanders, the trade-off is guaranteed revenue while the Barclays Center controls all of the revenue from ticket sales.

I'm not an Islanders fan per se, but Yormark's comments are entirely unnecessary regarding the Islanders' goal horn. If I were in the Brooklyn area, I'd not only not buy season tickets but I'd avoid the Barclays Center altogether for long stretches of time. As much as I like hockey and enjoy being at live games, there's no way in hell Brett Yormark is going to benefit off of me after insulting me and my loyalty to the Islanders to a goal horn.

For someone who has stated that he's "been very sensitive to the traditions of Islanders hockey", Yormark clearly knows nothing about those traditions and why Islanders fans hold them in such high regard.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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