Jay Z is planting more roots at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Nearly three years after becoming the venue’s first performer on Sept. 28, 2012, the rapper’s Roc Nation Music has inked a multi-year deal with the 19,000-capacity venue to create special programming including festivals, artist performances and showcases, Tidal-related events and an annual concert from Shawn Carter himself.
Barclays Center’s management is hopeful that the first event under the new partnership will take place “within the next month,” says the company’s CEO Brett Yormark, whose twin brother Michael is a president at Roc Nation. “This is exciting for us because it goes so much more beyond an artist coming to Barclays as part of a tour.”
As for whether the partnership will prevent top Roc Nation talent like Kanye West, Rihanna or Shakira from playing other New York arenas on future tours, Yormark says simply, “Barclays has been and will continue to be the home for Roc Nation artists, and I think that’s a mutual feeling.”
Still, the Roc Nation deal gives Barclays a competitive advantage in the increasingly crowded New York arena market. In 2014, its second full year of business, Barclays Center grossed $53.7 million from 134 concerts and sporting events – including 27 sell-outs, according to Billboard BoxScore. That’s still roughly half the business reported by Manhattan rival Madison Square Garden, which posted $106.1 million in grosses from 81 concerts and sporting events (including 48 sell-outs) in the same time period.
Yormark says Barclays is also looking to develop “emerging artist showcases” at the venue, which Roc Nation could help book via a roster that also includes Haim, Grimes, Capital Cities and Vic Mensa.
The Barclays pact isn’t Roc Nation’s only investment in touring: the company’s fourth annual Budweiser Made In America festival will return to Philadelphia September 5-6 with headliners Beyonce and The Weeknd, while 2014’s inaugural, simultaneous Los Angeles Made In America was discontinued so Budweiser could focus on a 2015 national parks program.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this article stated that a similar partnership exists between Barclays and Roc Nation Boxing. A rep for Barclays clarified that no such extensive arrangement exists.
--Additional reporting by Jem Aswad