Brooklyn is a busy borough, one that brings plenty of attributes to the table.
Long Island doesn't have that same cachet, and so I wonder if the Barclays Center crew could in fact replicate their success in Brooklyn on the island.
During a recent interview, Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark had the same tone as he had in 2010, when I betrayed a slight degree of skepticism that a renovated building could in fact attract enough boxing fans regularly to make boxing a worthy building block.
"There's a play out there on Long Island for everything we do here, be it boxing, college basketball, [pro wrestling], concerts and so forth," he said.
Yormark said his group has received commitments for more than 200 events in the first year of the rehabbed coliseum, and they plan to host more than 300 events annually there. He said that their research shows eight percent of Nets fans come to Brooklyn from Long Island, and only 13 percent of people attending non-Nets events are from L.I., so that speaks to the room for expansion.
And what role would boxing have at the Barclays-run coliseum?
Yormark said his partner Golden Boy Promotions has committed to bringing some of their shows in the theater. Yormark also hopes to "accommodate some bigger fights there." In addition, he'd like to have Golden Boy put some non-televised cards in that theater, to give the local fighters more reps.
Long Island boxing isn't in a horrid place, with Coram, N.Y. native Jamel Herring's 4-0 record as a pro after making the 2012 USA Olympic squad, and Chris Algieri, a 16-0 junior welterweight, building a fan base on cards run by Joe DeGuardia. But neither man would fill the big, refurbished room. Still, former heavyweight contender Gerry Cooney, who was a certified attraction on Long Island and currently co-hosts a Sirius radio boxing program along with partner Randy Gordon, says it could sustain a regular boxing program.
"Hell yeah," said Coooney, a 56-year-old Huntington, N.Y. product who retired with a 28-3 mark in 1990. "You've got some good kids there. Boxing as a sport has corrected itself, put better fights on. MMA snuck in there and that forced boxing to put on more competitive fights."
He cited his 1980 Nassau Coliseum fight with Ron Lyle, a first-round KO win, as a career highlight. "It can be better than ever," he said.
No surprise, the Madison Square Garden group likes their chances to snag the coliseum and put their stamp on it. A Garden spokesman offered this statement to NYFightblog when asked about their bid: “Madison Square Garden has been the longtime Mecca of boxing. We have terrific relationships with all of the top boxing promoters and, as part of our plan to create a thriving sports and entertainment destination on Long Island, look forward to leveraging those strong relationships, along with our expertise, to deliver boxing excitement to the Nassau Coliseum.”
The Garden's bid is a $250 million package, and they are playing up an Islander-themed sports bar in a nod to acknowledging the Isles' import.
Check back for the final part of this package, which includes Yormark's desire to both close and re-open the "Barclays" Coliseum in grand fashion...
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