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Alibaba founder in talks to buy New York arena

Joseph Tsai, co-founder and executive vice-chairman of ecommerce giant Alibaba Group, is reportedly in talks to acquire New York City arena Barclays Center.

The 19,000-capacity Barclays Center – home to basketball team Brooklyn Nets, of which Tsai already owns 49% – was 2018’s eighth busiest by ticket sales, according to Pollstar, selling nearly 817,000 tickets. It opened in 2012, and is currently owned by Brooklyn Events Center and operated by AEG Facilities and BSE Global (formerly Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment).

Both Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets have denied rumours of a takeover by Tsai, which was first reported by the New York Post. According to the Post, “a sale to Tsai would be embraced by the NBA [National Basketball Association], which is anxious for him to take control of the Nets so he can help the league grow in China.”

The arena hosted music stars including the Killers, Bruno Mars, Phil Collins and Muse in 2018, with shows by Twenty One Pilots, Ariana Grande and Iron Maiden planned for this summer.

Taiwanese-born Tsai co-founded Alibaba, which turned over nearly US$40 billion in 2018, with Jack Ma in 1999. The Hangzhou-based company dwarfs Amazon and eBay in online sales globally, and has in recent years staked a claim in the music industry, expanding into artist management, booking and entertainment ticketing.

 


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New GM for New York’s Barclays Center

Matt Felker has been appointed general manager of Barclays Center, the 17,000-capacity New York arena jointly operated by AEG Facilities and BSE Global (formerly Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment), with Joe Zino taking his place as GM of the nearby Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The internal promotions, effective 1 October, follow news of the impending departure of Barclays Center regional GM Steve Rosebrook.

“Steve and his AEG Facilities colleagues have done a tremendous job building world-class arena operations teams at both venues,” says Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, which oversees both Barclays Center and the 16,800-cap. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (in full, ‘NYCB Live: Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum’). “We thank Steve for his years of service and wish him all the best in his next chapter.

“We’re excited about the future with Matt and Joe and congratulate them on their well-deserved promotions”

“We’re excited about the future with Matt and Joe and congratulate them on their well-deserved promotions. They have been integral leaders in the operation of Barclays Center and NYCB Live.”

“We were very fortunate to have an experienced executive like Steve operating these two venues for us,” adds senior vice-president of AEG Facilities, Richard Krezwick, to whom both GMs will report. “His leadership has prepared Matt and Joe for assuming bigger roles.”

In addition to Barclays Center and NYCB Live, BSE operates Brooklyn’s Paramount Theatre and Webster Hall, as well the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. In May, it expanded its advisory board to include a London chapter, comprising Mumford & Sons/Omeara’s Ben Lovett, Universal Music A&R man Louis Bloom, Barclays’ head of sponsorships and media, Tom Corbett, manager James Sandom (Red Light Management), Sarah Stennett, CEO of First Access Entertainment, and James Worrall of sports conference Leaders.

 


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AEG’s Bowery Presents takes on Webster Hall lease

The Bowery Presents, the New York-based promoter and venue operator acquired by AEG Live in January, has bought the operating rights to famed Manhattan venue Webster Hall.

In partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE) – which operates Barclays Center (18,103-cap.) and NYCB Live/Nassau Coliseum (17,686-cap.) in New York – AEG Presents (né Live) will assume the long-term lease on the 131-year-old, 1,500-capacity East Village venue, which has hosted performances by U2, Eric Clapton, Sonic Youth, Guns N’ Roses and LCD Soundsystem.

It was formerly run by the Ballinger family, who took over the lease in 1989.

“We are excited to build on the iconic history of Webster Hall”

“Partnering with The Bowery Presents and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to programme and operate this iconic live facility will continue to enhance Webster Hall’s worldwide reputation as one of the industry’s most important venues,” comments Jay Marciano, chairman and CEO of AEG Presents.

BSE CEO Brett Yormark adds: “We are excited to build on the iconic history of Webster Hall. Webster Hall provides us with an extraordinary opportunity to connect with artists early in their careers and expands BSE’s venue footprint into Manhattan.

“We appreciate all that the Ballinger family has done to make Webster Hall an industry leading venue, and we are looking forward to working with them, The Bowery Presents and AEG Presents to make it an even greater destination for live music.”

 


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