At first preseason Nets game in Newark, crowd seems low-key, but attendance is vastly higher than the Izod Center turnout
It didn't seem much different from a lackadaisical regular season Nets game, and that, to the Star-Ledger's Dave D'Alessandro, was a sign of success. He wrote:
The last thing one expects from a preseason game is something that actually resembles a regular-season game -- in turnout, volume, and intensity -- but the Nets actually got all that Tuesday night.
The attendance for the first of their two games at Prudential Center was an impressive 12,790, which is roughly triple what the team routinely drew in preseason games at Izod Center in recent years.
And, needless to say, it was declared an unqualified success: “To have close to 13,000 people to show up was a tremendous victory for the city of Newark and for NBA basketball in the city of Newark,” Mayor Cory Booker said. “So we’re very excited about the energy that was there, the sense of community and the excitement of the game, and we’re looking forward to the next preseason game and hopefully more professional games in the future in Newark.”
There were lots of discount tickets, several sections had a majority of empty seats, and one stretch of the upper deck was cordoned off. (See video above.) But season-ticket holders were not obligated to come, as noted by Al Iannazzone of the Record, making the total more impressive.
I'm not sure 12,790 is triple the preseason draw; if previous attendance was 5500 fans at the Izod, then the new number is more like two and one-third times. And actual attendance, as opposed to ticket distribution, is routinely overstated.
The crowd did get jazzed at the close finish, cheering and trying to distract Celtics players during late-game free throws. There were a lot more cheers for Newark-born star Queen Latifah than for Newark Mayor Booker, who wants to lure the Nets permanently if and when the Brooklyn move falls through.
Nets are Scorching blogger Mark Ginocchio similarly wrote (in a passage I saw after I first posted):
To be honest, for the first three quarters, it sounded like any other New Jersey-based Nets crowd I’ve grown accustomed to hearing. But there was definitely a little buzz in the fourth quarter as the Celtics took the lead and then the Nets battled to make it a back-and-forth affair in the closing minutes.