Brett Yormark to Leave Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Following Nets, Barclays Center Sale

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Brett Yormark is leaving his position as Barclays Sports and Entertainment CEO following the sale of the Brooklyn Nets' professional basketball team and and Barclays Center arena to Alibabi co-founder Joe Tsai.

The team announced the news in a press release Friday (Aug. 16), writing that Yormark "will oversee the transition to new ownership before departing for a new role," and noting that "Yormark will announce his next career move in the coming weeks."

On Friday, BSE Mikhail Prokhorov announced he had entered into an agreement to sell full ownership of Barclays Center and his 51% controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets to an entity controlled by Tsai. The 55-year-old Canadian-Taiwanese businessman was one of 18 founders of the Chinese e-commerce, retail and Internet conglomerate Alibaba in 1999 and is the second-largest individual shareholder of Alibaba behind executive chair Jack Ma.

BSE's current management team will continue to run the venue under Tsai's ownership and Yormark is the only executive expected to exit the organization, where he has worked for 14 years. Yormark presided over the Net’s move from East Rutherford, New Jersey, to Brooklyn and led the Barclays Center's development and construction.

Yormark also led the charge to turn Brooklyn into a major live music destination, billing Barclays Center as a major competitor to Madison Square Garden and in 2017 it became a flash point for the venue wars between AEG and MSG.

"Madonna plays [Sept. 16-17] at the Garden and then comes into Brooklyn, which we've positioned as significantly different market, and sells out Barclays Center," he told Billboard in 2015. "And there are other times when artists just want to play Brooklyn, maybe they're looking for that hip, cool play and they certainly find it in our borough. I think we've proven to all the major promoters that [Brooklyn] can be a market that they play in addition to Manhattan, or that they play as a stand-alone, and we're OK with either one."

Yormark led the reopening of the Nassau Coliseum on New York's Long Island as NYCB Live after a $180 million renovation in 2017 and created a joint venture with AEG to acquire and renovate Webster Hall in Manhattan, reopening the legendary rock club in April. 

Under his tenure, the New York Islanders relocated to Barclays from Nassau in 2015 but were never able to connect with Brooklyn sports fans. Last year on Fox 5 he called the Islanders a "rent-a-team" that "never really embraced Brooklyn" while also casting doubt on the team's plans to move to New York's Belmont Park. On Aug. 9 the Empire State Development board voted in favor of the $1.3 billion project to build the team a new arena at Belmont Park.

Since opening in 2012, Barclays Center has not performed as expected, according to Crain's New York, which reports that "arena revenues for the 2017–18 season came in $34 million short of the $183 million projected by the facility's owner."

Higher than expected operating expense and cash flow issues led leading to a net loss of $54 million for the 2017-18 season and $177 million loss the previous season. A spokesperson for BSE told Crain's that "Nets ticket revenues were up 20% this year and early season-ticket packages for next year have doubled."

Barclays Center is one of the highest grossing arenas in the country on Billboard's annual Boxscore Chart, ranking No. 6 with $79.1 million in sales and 663,960 tickets sold.