Sports Arenas Turn to Luxury Fashion – WWD

In November, the UBS Arena in Belmont Park, home of the NHL New York Islanders franchise, unveiled the first part of a $ 2 billion makeover that includes an Islanders team store marketed by Paul Price, formerly of Burberry, which sells products priced in excess of $ 1,500.

Days later, Monumental Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA Washington Wizards franchise, named designer Brett Johnson art director, a role that will involve designing a wardrobe for the Wizards team, merchandising for fans, and building an experience. that goes beyond watching matches and concerts.

UBS and Monumental are two examples of large-scale venues entering the luxury industry to elevate their overall experiences.

Scott Malkin, founder of Value Retail and owner of the New York Islanders, said the company will begin construction of Belmont Park Village, a network of luxury brand outlets, in the first quarter of 2022, with plans to open all early 2024. Once completed, Belmont Park will house an arena, an outlet and a four-star boutique hotel.

Johnson said he can’t reveal in depth what he’s developing for Monumental, but said he wants the experience to be “achievable, desirable and accessible to all.”

“I think the problem, especially with the NBA, is an 82-game season with 41 home games,” Johnson explained. “Are small and medium market teams thinking about how we can engage different audiences to get fans off their couches and into the stadium and offer them an experience they wouldn’t get anywhere else?”

Johnson said he proposed installing chandeliers throughout the arena atrium to create a new environment and shared the idea of ​​opening a lounge where guests can host events and parties.

“Speaking with a good friend who is a sponsor of the stadium, I shared the bar / lounge we planned and he said it makes him want to go – and he’s a season ticket holder who doesn’t go to a single game,” Johnson said. “To change his perspective I think it says a lot.”

Arenas struggled during the lockdowns because they could not host sporting events or concerts, although some were temporarily converted into COVID-19 polling and testing centers or vaccination sites. “The Atlanta Falcons are the champions,” Johnson said.

However, arenas are starting to look for ways to step up their game and luxury fashion seems to be an answer, at least for UBS and Monumental.

Value Retail has hired Price and some veterans of brands including Gucci, Zegna and La Rinascente. Johnson makes luxury menswear that is priced up to $ 5,600 for a fur-trimmed cashmere down jacket. In November he said he’s looking for a watch partner for the Wizards. His goal is to help players accumulate resources for after the end of their professional careers, including jewelry and watches, and he wants guests in the arena to also learn what is behind the craftsmanship of these products.

“Not everyone can see or be exposed to these things every day,” Johnson added. “If you take a new generation and they see these things and are educated about them, you get a different perspective. I want people to feel a different emotion when they enter an arena. “

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