Tuesday, March 23, 2010

While Yormark aimed "not to alienate our core fan base," paper bag incident shows the limits of the future-in-Brooklyn strategy

The hapless Nets are still playing in New Jersey, at the antiquated Izod Center, and last night Nets Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark took exception to a fan wearing a bag over his head sitting behind the Nets' bench, a clash that was noticed by many in the press.

Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News reported:
The fan claimed that Yormark asked him why he was wearing the bag and that when he sarcastically answered, "Because the Nets are so good," Yormark snapped at him.
Forget the present

Yormark surely is thinking more about the future--new players and a marketing platform. At the Barclays Center groundbreaking on March 11, there were no current Nets--they were on the road--and no one said that much about basketball.

After all, the team is on a path toward breaking the record for annual losses, a path that positions it for the best shot in the lottery for the top draft pick and thus turning the team around when it moves to Brooklyn.

"Our goal is to be the most community-active team in professional sports," Yormark said. "I can assure you that the Nets will be part of the fabric of the community like the Dodgers used to be. It will be Brooklyn's team."

"As Bruce [Ratner] says," Yormark declared. "Our organization is about character, leadership, family, teamwork, and perseverance--sounds just like Brooklyn, to me."

Alienating New Jersey

Maybe the fan with the paper bag has a legitimate beef about a lousy team and a management that has not exactly been truthful.

In a 9/12/07 interview on WFAN radio, Yormark was asked: What have your challenges been, marketing this New Jersey team? Because New York has always traditionally been a Knicks town. What have you overcome to get the name out there, particularly with this move to Brooklyn?

BY: Well, it has been challenging. When you think about what the next couple of years has in store for us: we’re leaving New Jersey, we’ve been very honest about it, and we’ll be in Brooklyn for the '09-'10 season. And our goal is not to alienate our core fan base in New Jersey, but at the same time encourage people from the other side of the river to start to test drive us, to sample us."

Well, Yormark's timing was way off. The team's move would be at least three years late (and, of course, six years after the original plan).

And many in that core fan base have a right to feel alienated.

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