Madison Square Garden CEO Hank Ratner, who has overseen the Garden's three-year renovation, conducted a Q & A with Crain's New York Business recently in which he was asked about the Barclays Center. He was not very complimentary. He dismissed the new Nets home as a "secondary" play in the marketplace of local arenas.
Ratner's remarks are interesting because the Knicks and Nets have engaged in a border war of sorts since the Nets announced that they'd be moving to Brooklyn. The teams' marketing departments have fought over the hearts and minds of local basketball fans. Arena brass has also battled for big-time musicians. The venues -- and Knicks owner James Dolan and his Nets counterpart, Mikhail Prokhorov -- will be in competition again in the coming months over the right to host the NBA's All-Star Game in 2015.
Here is an excerpt of Ratner's conversation with Crain's New York Business:
Q: Do you have any concerns about competition from the Barclays Center?
A: Barclays Center is a good thing. There are arenas all over the area—in Newark, the Izod Center [in East Rutherford, N.J.], Nassau County and now Brooklyn. Our biggest issue is there's only 365 days in the year and we cannot book everything that we'd like to book. So there's a need for other venues.
Q: Barclays isn't going to be a niche competitor, though. They have basketball, concerts and soon hockey. It looks a lot like the Garden.
A: I don't think anybody sees it that way. I'm surprised that you would frame the question that way unless you were just trying to be provocative. The Garden is the Garden, and it's been here since 1879. It sits on top of the busiest transportation hub in New York. It's where people and performers go for big shows. Where else are you going to have the "12-12-12" show? The fight of the century? It happens here; it always has and always will. We hope Barclays is successful. There's room for successful secondary plays around the marketplace.