Monday, November 15, 2010

"Our history is the borough right now": the Nets' selling point is their new home's "authentic" history

A Wall Street Journal article today, headlined Selling Tickets the New Jersey Way, contrasts the two teams playing in Newark's Prudential Center:
Their starkest difference relates to their home state; the Devils have embraced New Jersey, while the Nets are increasingly shifting their focus to a future in Brooklyn that is slated to begin in the 2012-2013 season at a new arena in Atlantic Yards.

"Unfortunately, New Jersey never gave the team enough support on a consistent basis," said Fred Mangione, the Nets senior vice president of ticket sales and marketing, though he added, "We market and sell in New Jersey like we're never leaving."

Still, the team's Midtown headquarters is an ode to the outerborough. The team may be pitching wealthy potential suite-holders from Manhattan in Manhattan, but the marketing pitch is all Brooklyn.
Of course, the Nets' attachment to Brooklyn is all manufactured. As I explained last June, the Barclays Center markets "brownstone" and "loft" suites, and a canvas bag distributed at the groundbreaking places the giant arena next to the Brooklyn Bridge.

"New residents are using this idea of authenticity to soften their entrance into Brooklyn," observed academic and former Brooklynite Jonathan Silverman at the Dreamland Pavilion conference in October 2009.

The borough's touch points

The Journal article continues:
A timeline from the discovery of the borough in 1609 stretches through the hallway, marking historic events inside and outside of sports (the birth of Jerry Seinfeld is noted). Four large screens show the construction site of the new Barclays Center in real time; a video celebrates Brooklyn's history and hipness.

All told, the pitch to potential suite-holders barely mentions the Nets at all.

"It's all about Brooklyn and it's all about the building," said Mr. Mangione, who said the team has commitments for 30 suites, though they have not begun selling regular tickets to the new building. "Yes, the team is there, but it's just as important for us to pitch the concerts and the boxing and everything else."

Though they have consulted with other local teams and NBA franchises with new stadiums, Mr. Mangione was blunt about the different challenge the Nets face. "All those other buildings will talk about their teams first," he said. "Those guys kind of have their history built. Our history is the borough right now."
Our history is the borough right now.

Of course, to establish that history they had to demolish buildings with their own history, such as the Spalding sporting goods factory recycled into handsome lofts or the Ward Bakery, moribund but certainly with significant potential for rehabilitation, as with a Newark cousin.

Just 30 suites?

As NLG's Eric McClure pointed out, "the Nets may actually have managed to unsell some Barclays Center suites in the past four months!"

Why? Because the claim of "commitments for 30 suites" is five suites fewer than the number claimed this past July.

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