First Pro Basketball, Then Boxing, Now Tennis Finds Its Way To Brooklyn

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

September 12, 2010: Back in the day, Brooklyn, NY was the sole possession of baseball's Dodgers. Since the franchise moved to Los Angeles following the 1957 season, there have been some significant sports events, but only the Brooklyn Cyclones, a minor league affiliate of the New York Mets, have permanently rooted in the borough.

Now, with the NBA's Nets officially and (mostly) legally cleared to move from New Jersey to a new arena, Brooklyn is becoming focal point of pro sports. Manhattan still gets the spotlight with the New York Knicks and Rangers, The Bronx has the Yankees and Queens has the Mets and the U.S. Open. But Brooklyn is coming out of the shadows and claiming some spotlight of its own.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the sales and marketing arm of the planned Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and a sibling division to Nets Basketball, has signed a deal with sports talent management and event production firm Lagardère Unlimited to bring major professional tennis to the Barclays Center.

According to Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Barclays Center is scheduled to open in "late spring/early summer 2012." 

Through this alliance, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and Lagardère Unlimited said they would develop and co-promote at least two tennis events annually at the Barclays Center, which will include both current and former stars of the sport. Lagardère Unlimited represents several top-ranked tennis players, including Andy Roddick, Justine Henin, Caroline Wozniacki, Bob and Mike Bryan, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish. Lagardère has also produced national and international tennis tournaments and events around the world.

“We are thrilled to align with Lagardère Unlimited to bring big-time professional tennis events to Brooklyn as we continue to demonstrate that first-class programming is in-store for the Barclays Center,” Brett Yormark, president and CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment and CEO of Nets Basketball. “The Barclays Center will offer our visitors the best in sports and entertainment and we look forward to making several additional major programming announcements in the coming months.”

Earlier this year, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment said it would offer 25 major college basketball and college hockey events annually at the Barclays Center. In conjunction with Golden Boy Promotions, whose president is ten-time world champion Oscar de la Hoya, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment will also promote a minimum of 12 major professional boxing events a year at the Barclays Center, making the Barclays Center the premier boxing venue in the northeast.  In addition, the Barclays Center will also host world-class concerts, family shows, and much more.

“Partnering with Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment to bring world class tennis to one of the most anticipated new venues in the United States, the Barclays Center, is an exciting win for tennis and the fans alike,” Kevin O’Connor, COO of Lagardère Unlimited, said in a statement. “Brooklyn has always been an important part of sports history and now tennis shares that space.”

"Brooklyn has always been an important part of sports history and now tennis shares that space.”

Among the companies that have signed on as partners and/or sponsors at the Barclays Center are Haier America, ADT, EmblemHealth, MetroPCS, Cushman & Wakefield, MGM Grand at Foxwoods, Jones Soda Co., Phillips-Van Heusen, Anheuser-Busch, Willis Group Holdings and High Point Solutions. Financial firm Barclays has a 20-year naming rights deal for the arena.

The Nets went 12-70 in 2009-10, among the worst records in NBA history. But in 2010-11 the Nets will have a new principal owner in Mikhail Prokhorov; and a new home with the team moving from the Izod Center to Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, until settling in their permanent home in Brooklyn.

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