Brett Yormark said the Islanders’ march into the second round of the NHL playoffs “has exceeded all of our expectations,” from the ice to the stores and beyond.
“I think in general the playoffs have amplified the whole brand,” Yormark, the CEO of Barclays Center, said Tuesday as he entered the building for Game 3 of the Lightning-Islanders series. “If you think about the games, we’ve been selling them out.
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“And the retail store here has been busier than it’s ever been. The numbers far surpass any regular-season numbers and, in fact, we converted [the main store] to the Islanders for the entire playoffs, so they’re no longer sharing it with the Nets . . . It’s great. What we’ve learned is the best way to sell hockey in Brooklyn is to let it happen organically. Obviously that’s happening now with the Islanders’ playoff games.
“I mean, listen, this has exceeded all of our expectations. We were hoping just to get to the playoffs and now we’re in round two and who knows where you go from here? It’s been terrific. And when you think about all of the winter sports teams [in New York] we’re the last one standing, so all eyes are on Brooklyn, so it’s an exciting time to be an Islander fan.”
Yormark acknowledged the sometimes bumpy transition during the Islanders’ first season in Brooklyn, but the arena — and fans — got strong reviews during the three first-round games against the Panthers.
“We’ve learned a lot this year,” Yormark said. “We as a building have adjusted. The fans have adjusted. And no one really remembers what happens in October and November. They remember what’s happening now. This is what they’re reflecting on and this is what they’re commenting about.
“The first-round playoff games were tremendous. Packed houses, it was vibrant, energized, obviously very dramatic as far as how many of [the games] ended and we hope to see the same if not more in the second round. So it’s all coming together at the right time.
“The season was a bit of a building block. And as I sit and enjoy some of the games I look back and say it’s all well worth it. We learned a lot. We worked together to get to this point and now hopefully we can enjoy it.”