Barclays Moving In On MSG Events As Nets Move In On Knicks Turf

Barclays Center (AP Photo via since Mikhail Prokhorov took over the New Jersey Nets, the team has been firing shots across the bow of the New York Knicks.  Last summer, the team put up a huge billboard in the shadows of Madison Square Garden with photos of Prokhorov and Jay-Z and the tag line “the blueprint for greatness.”  It was the opening salvo in a clear strategy for the soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets.  They are taking on the Knicks any way they can, hoping to steal casual fans and claim a viable stake in New York’s gigantic TV market. 

And now the strategy is expanding.  The Nets, with their brand new Barclays Center chugging towards completion, are targeting the Knicks ownership where it hurts:  In their wallets.  With a bigger, more state-of-the are facility, the Barclays Center and The Nets are trying to attract events that might have called Madison Square Garden home.  Beyond that, they’ll also be trying to prove that they can be better hosts to events that have been held at MSG for some time.  The latest battleground:  college basketball.

The Atlantic 10 Conference will move its men’s basketball tournament to the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning with the 2013 tournament.

The Barclays Center will be the new home of the New Jersey Nets. The A-10 has one more year on its current deal to play the tournament in Atlantic City.

[…] The Barclays Center could be in play for the Big East or ACC tournaments beyond 2016 when the Big East’s current deal with Madison Square Garden expires.

The Barclays Center will have a few years with the A-10 tourney to impress the heads of the Big East and ACC.  And as much as those conferences feel connected to MSG, they’ll have to give Barclays a good, hard look. 

Prokhorov owns a small portion of the building, so some of the money made will be funneled into his pockets, and into the Nets.  And stealing any annual event held at Madison Square Garden pulls money away from James Dolan and the Knicks.  And while MSG and its properties make gargantuan sums of money, the message sent is pretty clear.  Whatever events Barclays steals from MSG is, by proxy, ground gained by the Nets on the Knicks’ turf.  And if MSG and its shareholders start to feel a financial pinch, it might have an effect on how the Knicks do business. 

Even if it doesn’t, and it may well not, The Brooklyn Nets are fighting for a piece of New York’s pie.  They were when they were in New Jersey, but they were in New Jersey.  They’re crossing the Hudson into Mayor Bloomberg’s territory soon.  They’ll be a 20 minute subway ride from Madison Square Garden, which encroaches on Knicks territory.  And with 2.5 million residents, Brooklyn alone is about the same size of Miami/Dade County.  Little potshots at the Knicks like stealing their building’s events is just another jab at the giant.

The A-10 tourney is just the start.  The more events the Barclays Center can lure away from MSG (like the Coaches vs. Cancer classic), the more it appears, at least outwardly, that the Nets are moving in on the Knicks territory.  And since perception is reality, James Dolan and friends may start getting pretty worried, pretty soon.