Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark has had his ups-and-downs, pledging to attract more Brooklynites to the sport, but frustrating a loyal fanbase in the process.
By Justin Weiss
Disclaimer One: Brett Yormark has had his fair share of PR gaffes, although many of them have stemmed from an inability to accept abuse from the New York Islanders fanbase.
Disclaimer Two: Some of it may be taken out of context, or all of it may be justifiable, but at the end of the day there are certain things you can’t say.
Disclaimer Three: This article serves not to protest Yormark or Barclays Center. Rather, it is to expose the many PR gaffes of Yormark and his staff.
Disclaimer Four: Yormark has screwed up PR-wise a lot more than we’re giving him credit for.
Yormark, in an interview with Michael Kay, in September:
“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. I’m not acquiescing to the Islanders fans, I’m doing the right thing. Personally, I don’t respect the way they approached it. The Islanders fans. How they attacked our Twitter handle, the vocabulary they used to reference me and the organization. I don’t appreciate it.“
Yormark of course was referring to the vulgar attacks he experienced from die-hards after he and his staff planned to alter the team’s beloved Nassau Coliseum goal horn.
And while that may have not been justified, Yormark is an adult and knew full well what the implications of the change would be.
Here’s the proposed goal horn, by the way:
— Barclays Center (@barclayscenter) September 29, 2015
Yormark, in an interview with Nets Daily, in October:
“The Islanders is a very different process. There is a tradition that goes along with Islanders hockey. They won the Stanley Cup four times in the 80’s. They do have a hard-core fan base, although they don’t have many fans, those fans that do exist are very hard-core and very vocal. So for me, it was a brand balance. It was how do you maintain some of the current traditions and relocate those traditions into Brooklyn while at the same time embracing a new fan base in Brooklyn and beyond and infuse that Brooklyn attitude and grit into the overall brand architecture. And I think we’ve done that.”
While this was taken more out-of-context, it’s imperative that Yormark refrains from criticizing the fanbase if he wants to be accepted by fans.
As the saying goes: “The customer is always correct,” even in the case of the New York Islanders.
Yormark, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, in February 2016:
“Our seating capacity is over 15,700. Within that capacity there’s a lot of great seats. Do we have some obstructed seats? Yes we do. Are fans aware of those obstructed seats before they purchase them? Yes they are. There’s really nothing we’re going to do from a capital improvement standpoint. You can watch the game on your mobile device. The game is on the scoreboard. There are many ways to view the game if you’re in one of those obstructed seats. We aren’t going to be able to change the seats in the building. That is what it is. But there are certainly other ways we can enhance the experience.”
While fans clearly know what they’re getting for their buck while purchasing obstructed view seats, Yormark comes across as insensitive and thick-headed.
First, he decides to insinuate that the fans who buy these tickets are stupid enough to do so.
Then, he speaks from a “capital improvement standpoint,” basically telling the consumer that the business is more important than the gameday experience.