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Islanders take fans and team history to new digs in Brooklyn
A comprehensive PR campaign was developed and executed by the communications team at the Barclays Center to help promote the New York Islanders, as the team made the move from Long Island to its new home at Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-2016 NHL season.
The Barclays Center PR team developed a full communications plan that included all aspects of the team's move including a marketing campaign, media coverage, jersey launch, a successful transportation partnership with the Long Island Rail Road, and many other components.
The team started seeding the convenience of the arena two years ago in anticipation that the biggest challenge of the move would be educating fans to get from Long Island to Brooklyn. The Islanders had a storied history in Long Island, where the team won four Stanley Cup championships in the 1980s.
"The main goal of the overall campaign was to let the market know that the Islanders were coming to Brooklyn. The first marketing campaign was ‘Brooklyn Scores,’ which emphasized how Brooklyn had secured its second major sports team to play at Barclays Center," says Barry Baum, EVP and CCO at Barclays Center. "From a Long Island standpoint came ‘Tradition Has A New Home.’ This campaign was targeted at Long Island fans to let them know the long-standing traditions of the Islanders would move to Brooklyn."
Barclays chose to bring several nostalgic elements of the Islanders from Long Island to Brooklyn including the Islanders' organ and organ player, retired player jerseys, division title and Stanley Cup commemoration banners, and the longtime PA announcer.
In August 2015, Barclays Center teamed with the Long Island Rail Road to add more service before and after Islanders games. The new train service included a route called Barclays Direct. This story appeared in Newsday, a major Long Island media outlet.
Prior to the start of the NHL season, the Barclays communications team arranged for The New York Times to cover a sponsorship and premium ticket holder dinner for 50 people at Fresco by Scotto in Manhattan, which was attended by Islanders legends Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies, Barclays Center majority owner Bruce Ratner, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The comms team helped introduce the Islanders newly designed black-and-white jersey. The team had custom jerseys sent to celebrities, and many posted photos of themselves wearing their jerseys on social media including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, rapper Fabolous, Rosie Perez, and Chloë Grace Moretz. A video was made of the jersey unveiling and posted on NewYorkIslanders.com and pushed out socially. Islanders player Matt Martin appeared on the Boomer & Carton show on WFAN radio, where he wore the jersey and gave personalized jerseys to the hosts.
On the opening night of Islanders hockey at Barclays Center, E! News was tapped to post photos of the game, including Christie Brinkley standing in a new Islanders jersey and cheering on the team from rinkside. Several Brooklyn Nets players were also on hand at the opening game, including Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.
The Empire State Building took on orange and blue lights, the team's primary colors, to generate buzz for the opening game.
After the New York Mets won the National League pennant in October, several Mets players were invited to an Islanders game to sit in the exclusive West End Club behind one of the goals at Barclays. The cross-promotion tactic secured a feature on Page Six, the main gossip section of the New York Post.
All of the local New York TV stations covered the launch of the new Islanders jersey, including WCBS, WNBC, FOX 5, WABC, PIX 11, and NY1. The New York Times sports section also did a story about the new jerseys.
At this point in the NHL season, the new Islanders jersey is the third highest-selling jersey in the league.
There is an average of 5,000 fans coming from Long Island to each Islanders home game, thanks in large part to the LIRR's extended service to Barclays Center.
Along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Islanders are implementing the Borough President’s Community Pass program, which offers thousands of Brooklyn kids the opportunity to see an Islanders game at Barclays Center at low cost. The program also included a partnership with city parks to host a six-week outdoor street hockey clinic for kids.
"Community is a big part of what we're all about here. We definitely want to emphasize that," explains Baum. "We will be doing a lot more community activities. We've done that for years with the Brooklyn Nets and that is a point of emphasis for us going forward."