Brett Yormark, who husbanded the Nets move from New Jersey to Brooklyn and created the now sprawling Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment Group, is resigning as CEO of both the Nets and BSE, according to multiple league sources.
Yormark is expected to announce his departure to his staff Friday morning, ending 14 years with the franchise. The 52-year-old joined the New Jersey Nets as CEO in 2005 after eight years at NASCAR. Yormark had had two stints in marketing roles with the Nets earlier in his career.
The announcement comes as Joe Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian businessman, completes his purchase of the Nets. It’s long been believed that Tsai would want his own person to run the franchise. It’s not known whether Tsai has a replacement in mind. Two close associates, Oliver Weisberg and Rich Tao, have been central to his decision to buy the Nets and before that the Liberty. Both are officers of Blue Pool Capital, Tsai’s family investment arm.
Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg news reports that Yormark will stay on until the sale of the Nets to Tsai is completed.
BREAKING: @brettyormark resigning as CEO of @BSE_Global, parent of @BrooklynNets/@barclayscenter, source says. Announcement tomorrow after employees are told. Will stay on until sale to @joetsai1999 is complete, aligning departure with end of Prokhorov's ownership #SportsB— Scott Soshnick (@soshnick) August 16, 2019
According to associates, Yormark will not be moving on to another job immediately, but believes he has one more chapter left in his career. Yormark will receive a substantial exit package, say league sources.
The terms of the Nets purchase agreement have yet to be announced but multiple reports, starting with the New York Post Tuesday night, have Tsai exercising his option to buy the majority interest in the Nets at total valuation of $2.35 billion. Tsai purchased 49 percent of the Nets for a little less than $1.2 billion last year. Barclays Center is expected to change hands as well.
Yormark’s tenure has been marked by some huge successes —like moving the Nets to Brooklyn— as well as huge failures —like moving the Islanders to Brooklyn. The Nets move took eight long years and as an homage to Yormark’s efforts, then Nets owner Bruce Ratner had the arena open officially on September 28, 2012, Yormark’s birthday.
With the Nets finally playing in Brooklyn, Yormark embarked on an expansion of the team brand, attempting to make the team’s black-and-white colors and Brooklyn Grit identity into a “lifestyle” brand.
He also added Nassau Coliseum and two smaller venues, Webster Hall in Manhattan and Brooklyn Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, to Prokhorov’s mix of sports and entertainment assets. He was also instrumental in establishing the Long Island Nets G League franchise and in getting the HSS Training Center opened. Ultimately, he established Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment as Prokhorov’s holding company, overseeing all those assets.
His aggressiveness, often seen as abrasive, was often controversial. For example, his decision early on to eliminate “New Jersey” from team uniforms and even stationery angered many New Jersey fans prior to the 2012 move to Brooklyn. His famous decision to market reversible Nets jerseys with a Nets player’s name on the outside and an opponents’ on the inside became a rallying cry for fans in the Garden State.
He also battled Brooklyn residents opposed to Barclays Center and surrounding Atlantic Yards development. Then, in recent years, Islander fans made him their bete noire as the NHL club moved from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays Center then back again in a complicated series of transactions that left virtually no one happy. The Islanders are expected to move into their new Belmont Park arena in 2021-22.
He will most be remembered, however, for the Nets move to Brooklyn, returning major sports to the borough for the first time since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957, framing the marketing campaign as “Hello Brooklyn.”
Yormark oversaw all aspects of the Nets’ move to Barclays Center, including the rebranding, marketing, and sponsorship sales. Yormark has had oversight for all facets of the arena at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, including operations, event programming, sales, and marketing. In January 2007, Yormark secured a 20-year strategic marketing partnership with Barclays, which includes the naming rights to Barclays Center.
In addition to bringing the Nets to Brooklyn, Yormark was at the forefront of the effort to bring a full menu of concerts, big time boxing, family shows and college basketball to the arena. In fact, the arena has been ranked annually among the top grossing venues in the world.
Yormark was named the maximum three times to the “Forty Under 40” list by Sports Business Journal and was selected twice to the “40 Under 40” list by Crain’s New York Business. He has been profiled in Newsweek, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Gotham, Hamptons, Success, The New York Times, and USA Today, and on CBS Sunday Morning, CNN, and CNBC.
Yormark’s No. 2, Mike Zavodsky, is also leaving the Nets and BSE. He is headed to Roc Nation Sports, Jay-Z’s operation where he will reportedly be the president of sales. Brett’s twin brother, Michael, is CEO of Roc Nation.
- Brooklyn Nets Executive Brett Yormark Plans to Step Down as CEO - Scott Soshnick - Bloomberg News
- Nets CEO Brett Yormark plans to step down - Joseph Staszewski - New York Post
- Sources: Nets CEO out amid change in ownership - Tim Bontemps - ESPN
- Reports: Nets CEO Brett Yormark Stepping Down - Ryan Chatelain - WFAN
- Brett Yormark’s exit from Barclays a blow for boxing - George Willis - New York Post