BSE Global has revitalized NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. (All photos courtesy BSE Global)
Sheldon: ‘Goal is to keep all this positive momentum going’
BSE Global, which runs Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, took over operations at NYCB Live: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum two years ago after a $180 million renovation. To mark the anniversary, VenuesNow spoke with its executive vice president of programming, Keith Sheldon, about what the company has learned about bringing an arena back to prominence.
How’s it going at NYCB Live?
Great. The building is back, open for business and better than ever. In the last fiscal year, 10 of 12 shows sold out and the two shows there were not sellouts had a 90 percent sell-through rate. The range began with Panic! at the Disco in July and has continued through our latest show, which was Kiss, last week (March 22).
Have things gone to plan?
When we started this project, I looked at it with multiple prongs. The first prong was making an investment into the venue. Prong two was all about filling it with great content. From starting everything off with Billy Joel (who opened the renovated arena in April 2017) to Kiss, we’ve had some phenomenal moments with U2, Metallica, Barbra Streisand, Marc Anthony, Kelly Clarkson and Twenty One Pilots. The third prong was getting approval by the Nassau County Legislature to move forward with our proposed vision of a $1.5 billion dynamic mixed use development project that will surround the coliseum. The last piece is getting more anchor tenant programming including the return of the Islanders (of the NHL), our NBA G League Long Island Nets franchise, and (National Lacrosse League) franchise that will play all its home games here next season.
When do you expect the retail phase to start?
Construction will begin in the next 12-18 months. It will take up to 10 years to complete. Once it’s done it will add tremendous value to the property.
What pieces of the puzzle helped you create success on Long Island?
We speak to the Long Island community, who were largely ignored for many years. We ran a robust marketing campaign called “See It Live” in 2018 when the Islanders returned. It struck a chord and brought people to the building. The concept was developed in-house, and the intent was to speak to the Long Island market and let people know about all the great content we have in the building other than concerts and hockey games like community activations, our exhibition space, seasonal programming and things happening on our 3-acre plaza. Also, we’re seeing a great positive energy transfer once we get someone here, meaning once people come here and see how great a venue it is, they want to come back. Great programming has put the coliseum back on the map as a destination to see events.
After running NYCB Live for two years, what have you learned?
Like Barclays Center here, in the beginning, our programming efforts were about volume and variety. We wanted to see what the market responded to. As it turns out the market will respond to every big show and we found sweet spots in classic rock, shows catering to the pop-youth demographic and adult contemporary artists.
Do shows often play both NYCB Live and Barclays Center?
If so, we try to space it out so we can cross-market the first show and the second show.
Have you made any improvements to the facility since the grand reopening?
Yes. We’ve found out that people like to come early and gather in the parking lot with their friends, so we’ve added a new 1,055-square-foot LED exterior wall and three new LEDs at the main entrance to give us additional marketing opportunities.
How is F&B going?
Terrific. Our partner is Levy Restaurants and our The Taste of Long Island concept is working well. We launched a custom beer called Long Island Love, which was developed by Oyster Bay Brewing Co. last year.
Is BSE happy with its decision to take on Long Island?
Absolutely. The venue was underutilized, it needed a ramp-up period from a sales and marketing perspective, but the venue is finally hitting its stride. We’re in a solid place, and our goal is to keep all this positive momentum going.
Is BSE looking at new venues to conquer?
We’ve got the renovation and reopening at Webster Hall opening next month. Our plate is pretty full. But we’re an aggressive company and always looking new opportunities.