The Brooklyn Nets opened the Barclays Center against the Toronto Raptors in front of a crowd of 17,732 people. Since then though attendance has failed to live up to the hype that surrounds them with a crowd of just 14,017 against the Timberwolves and then 16,523 against the Orlando Magic.
Last night was a bit closer to a sell out with a crowd of 17,032 on hand, but it still seems a bit odd that a team this hyped in the third largest city in the country, and one that hasn’t had a major professional sports team in 57 years, isn’t selling out every night. There are probably a few reasons for the lack of sell outs though.
The first reason is likely that this is a new team. The old fan base isn’t very far away, but it is probably far enough away to keep a few fans from coming to the game. On top of that it’s not like that old fan base was huge to begin with. So the Nets are in the process of building an entirely new fan base in Brooklyn. In this borough a lot of people do love basketball, but a lot of people also grew up with life long allegiances to the Knicks. The team did a great job marketing the Nets and people are genuinely enthusiastic, but old habits die hard. It’s going to take some time to built up the fan base to its potential.
Then there is the fact that the Nets haven’t won anything yet. Yes, they started out with a nice win on opening night and they made up for a tough loss against the Heat with a three game winning streak, but New Yorkers, even Brooklynites who never had their own team, are spoiled by the great teams in the area. Both the Yankees and the Giants have won championships recently and while some teams have struggled, the Knicks and Rangers are both teams with long histories who are on the upswing right now. This is definitely a win-now type of town and until the Nets have won something there will be fans who are going to be disappointed.
The last is possibly the most obvious – Hurricane Sandy. That storm hit the region and threw a lot of people’s lives through a hoop. The immediate area around the arena is alright and for the most part the subway system is back up and running again, but there are still people out in Long Island that are without power and parts of Staten Island have been utterly destroyed. New Jersey, the former home of the Nets, is also dealing with their own ongoing issues. Considering the Nets are averaging about 92 percent of capacity it’s not like huge crowds are staying home. More realistically, there are a few people each night that are dealing with their own issues that are bigger than basketball and decided to stay home. That could be the entire difference right there.
Like I said, while the Nets aren’t selling out every night it’s not like they are playing to empty crowds. Their average attendance right now has been 16,326 fans a night. That’s 92 percent of capacity. Then consider that one night against the Timberwolves, which was not opening night and was while people were still reeling from Sandy, was their worst night attendance wise it threw off the entire average. Take away that one game and they are averaging over 17,000 fans a night. That’s really not bad especially when you consider that the opponents are not exactly inspiring — the the Magic and the Cavaliers are all among the worst teams in the NBA right now.
So no, the Nets are not exactly selling out right now. But it’s still early and Brooklynites have been going through a lot right now. Over time they will come to the Barclays Center — especially if they keep winning.