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As Brooklyn Nets bolster superfans, attendance lags, at bottom of NBA

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From the New York Times today, New York’s N.B.A. Teams Don’t Have Much to Celebrate. These Fans Cheer Anyway.:
When a team has had eight home arenas in two states over a half-century, it’s tough to build a dedicated fan base. At Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, where the Nets moved in 2012, they are last in the N.B.A. in attendance and most fans tend to make noise only when T-shirts are being shot from cannons.

Then there’s Section 114.

It’s called The Block — a rowdy section purposely set in a corner of the arena where the fans, who rarely sit down, wouldn’t obstruct anyone else’s view.
Indeed, according to ESPN, as of today, the Nets rank well last in average attendance per game, at 13,862, which is well behind last year's average of 15,556 (29th in the 30-team league) or the Nets' worst season, which averaged 15,125 (27th).

That said, the percentage capacity, 76.6%, is matched the results for the Minnesota Timberwolves and just a tick below that of the Detroit Pistons.

The New York Knicks, despite their struggles, have an official attendance of 19,330, 97.6% of capacity, though that surely does not match gate count or enthusiasm. That said, the Knicks have more season ticket holders and, given the location in Manhattan, are an easier impulse buy for tourists.

The issue of a fan base

While it surely is tougher to build a fan base when a team has moved multiple times, that's too easy an explanation.

After all, the Brooklyn Nets rebuilt their fan base during their first season, in 2012-13, when they were a novelty in Brooklyn, and maintained solid attendance, near the 17,732 capacity, when, with some aging stars acquired from the Boston Celtics, they were seen as competitive.

After they lost those players, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, having sacrificed draft picks, the Nets' attendance declined.

They have also regularly turned over personnel--remember long-serving Brook Lopez? media fave Jeremy Lin?--so it's tougher for fans to say connected. Untimely injuries haven't helped the team stay competitive, despite general consensus that General Manager Sean Marks has built a decent roster with the assets he has.

The official attendance for the first four years was:
  • 2012-13: 17,240
  • 2013-14: 17,251
  • 2014-15: 17,037
  • 2015-16: 15,125
However, as I wrote, that masked a significant lower gate count, which, in 2015-16, averaged 11,622.

The attendance figures since then:
  • 2016-17: 15,429
  • 2017-18: 15,556
Note that I think last year's figures are slightly distorted by "home games" in Mexico City.

What the Nets do

From the article:
For the Nets, that means supporting the rowdies in The Block, which the team officially adopted this year by holding tryouts and giving away 50 season tickets, memorabilia and the occasional in-game case of Modelo. Section 114 is now officially known as “The Block: Home of the Brooklyn Brigade.”
I wrote about the Brigade last month. It's understandable that the team would spend a little money to reward loyal fans and keep the focus on something positive.


  1. one point: ESPN for reasons unexplained uses an 18,000 seat capacity for basketball at Barclays Center when the capacity if 17,732. That pushes the real percentage of seats sold to 78.2 percent, not that it matters much.

    13,862 is mind-boggling bad.


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