Friday, December 19, 2008

Trouble spot: Nets' attendance should be on the NBA's (and Times's) radar

The New York Times today, in a Sports section article headlined In Some N.B.A. Arenas, the Crowds Are Thin, describes how, while National Basketball Attendance is flat and arenas are reported at 89% of capacity, at par with last season, some teams and cities are "trouble spots."

At the top (or bottom) of the list is the Sacramento Kings:
The Kings are suffering from the twin perils of a poor economy and poor play, with a 7-19 record and no certified stars. The problems are mirrored in Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Charlotte, N.C., and Memphis, which comprise the bottom fifth of the N.B.A. attendance list.

Missing from the article is any mention of the New Jersey Nets, which should be very close to that bottom fifth. Consider that the Indiana Pacers are drawing 14,180 fans, or 78.06% in an arena with the capacity of 18,165.

The announced Nets' attendance is just a fraction better. As of today, the Nets are averaging 15,621 fans, or 78.14% in an arena with the capacity of 19,990, a very slight decrease from last year's average of 15,657. (I had previously listed 19,968 as the capacity.)

That's a marginal distinction. Not only that, the Times acknowledges the capacity to fudge the numbers:
(N.B.A. teams report attendance based on tickets distributed, not turnstile counts. The latter figure is not publicly available.)


Making up for the lapse

I don't draw as quick a conclusion as NoLandGrab that the lapse is because the Times's parent company is business partners with New Jersey Nets principal owner Bruce Ratner. After all, a different Times sports reporter described the arena as "half-empty" when it was officially 89% full last month.

But it is true that the Daily News and newspapers in New Jersey, not to mention this blog, have followed up much more.

I suspect the Nets are as good as fudging the numbers as anybody, maybe better. After all, one of the issues facing the Nets is similar to that facing the suffering Kings, as the Times described it:
On top of everything else, the Kings are in a political battle for a new arena, and fans are nervous that they will leave.


Before the season ends, the Times should follow up on the "trouble spot" in its own backyard.

3 comments:

  1. NoLandGrab.org didn't say it was "BECAUSE" of the Times-Ratner partnership, just that it was "NO SHOCKER" that Bruce Ratner's NJ Nets got a pass. Based on the paper's track record, we don't expect much really.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Point taken--I should have acknowledged the more subtle contention.

    While I think that the Times should have included the Nets, I do think that the paper's mention last month of arena attendance being overstated does not support the suggestion that the Nets are getting a pass.

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