Brooklyn lost a fabric of its community in 1957 when the Dodgers were moved to Los Angeles. Now, 55 years later, Brooklyn will once again have a professional sports franchise residing in the borough.
The Barclays Center will open on September 28th as the new state of the art home for the Brooklyn Nets. One man who was instrumental in the process to move the Nets to Brooklyn and help build the new arena for the team was CEO Brett Yormark.
I recently had an exclusive interview with Yormark to discuss the Barclays Center, Nets basketball and what’s in store for the Brooklyn community.
Yormark was all smiles at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan while on hand to accept the first ever Cabrini Mission Foundation Award for community service.
"The support of the Nets organization to community service is a model which all professional sports franchises should emulate. Just as Mother Cabrini herself assisted immigrants on the same Brooklyn streets that the Nets now call home, the organization has earmarked considerable resources to help those in need," said Cabrini Mission Foundation President and CEO Nick Vendikos.
Yormark echoed those words from Vendikos when we spoke.
“From our standpoint, we’re going to be active in the community all summer long and obviously for the foreseeable future,” said Yormark. “We’re all about the Brooklyn community. We’re going to invest in education, we’re going to invest in wellness, and community development.”
The Barclays Center will be a major resource for the Nets to help fulfill their goal of reaching out to the Brooklyn community for residents of all walks of life and finances.
“We have 2,000 seats priced at 15 dollars and under. Bruce Ratner, when he first announced the move of the Nets to Brooklyn, said that we will always be committed to those that need us and that might not be in a position to sit in the front row. It’s been our goal from day one to have affordable seating and pricing for anyone that wants to experience Brooklyn Nets basketball and I think we’ve done that,” said Yormark. “I think it’s going to be a meeting place. It’s been built for the community. We’ll host over 220 events a year. We’re all about creating incredible experiences and fun for people in Brooklyn whether it’s college basketball, the Brooklyn Nets, family shows, or concerts.”
The Barclays Center will be the focal attraction for fans around the Brooklyn community, but Yormark knows the importance of a true team effort to reach outside the arena and into the various sections of Brooklyn.
“This is about a movement and it’s not just about what the fans see on the court. They’ve got to see our players, our organization, our management in the community engaging with kids, engaging with those that truly need us, and I think that’s a great part of the NBA,” said Yormark.
The “movement” has Yormark very pleased. Brooklyn Nets apparel, designed by co-owner Jay-Z, flew off the shelves in Modell’s during the unveiling of the team’s new logo near the Barclays Center and has continued steadily heading into the summer.
“It’s surreal,” said Yormark. “I’ve been at this with Bruce (Ratner) for almost seven years now and it was never a question of if, it was a question of when.”
While Yormark didn’t guarantee Deron Williams will be back in uniform to open the arena, he did promise the Barclays Center will represent Brooklyn proudly.
“Our goal has always been to bring the best of the best to Brooklyn and let those that live in Brooklyn truly enjoy an incredible entertainment experience,” said Yormark. “I think we’re going to deliver Brooklyn something that they never expected and we’re going to over deliver in many respects.”