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At arena during Election Day, Gov. Hochul and Lt. Gov. Benjamin announce new vaccine incentive, with free Nets/events tickets, don custom jerseys

In May 18, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a City Hall press conference, donned a Brooklyn Nets jersey to announce a new COVID-19 vaccination site across from the Barclays Center, with the incentive of a free Nets t-shirt and a chance to win Nets playoff tickets--plus a plan for 100 free tickets to vaccinated Nets fans in "33 neighborhoods that have been identified by the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity."

Yesterday, Gov. Kathy Hochul, gaining the spotlight on a day for New York City elections, did de Blasio one better, coming to the Barclays Center for a press conference and photo op, announcing a plan for two free tickets--Nets games or other arena events--to anyone who gets vaccinated at the former Modell's site on Flatbush.


The backdrop: one player from the Nets, two from the New York Liberty, and students from Ascend Public Charter Schools. And just as with Govs. George Pataki (Nets) and Andrew Cuomo (Islanders), the unelected Hochul--who's gunning for a full term next year, likely to face two or three Brooklyn-based candidates--got to wear a custom jersey for a photo op. 

Win-win, and mutual halo

Call it a win-win, mutual good publicity, and mutual halo. Nothing wrong with the incentive or the public health efforts, but it's valuable "earned media" for the team/arena, saving on ad spending--and it doesn't make up for, say, the arena not paying property taxes.

According the the arena's press release, appointments can be booked in advance by going through NYC COVID-19 Vaccine Finder and choosing “Barclays Center: Modell’s” as the vaccination site. Walk-in appointments will also be available on a first come, first served basis. Additional details are at barclayscenter.com/covid19vax.

The announcement was tied to expected plans to start vaccinating children 5-11.

A Benjamin (and lobbyist) connection

At the opening of the video, BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi, who oversees the team and the arena company, credited the idea to Lt. Gov Brian Benjamin and BSE Global owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai. 

Note: Benjamin and BSE Global have a connection. In his failed candidacy for New York City Comptroller, Benjamin spent more than $2.3 million with the Parkside Group, which just happens to be a lobbyist for the Brooklyn Nets and Brooklyn Events Center, the arena company, working on such issues as "Mayor attending a NBA" game and COVID capacity restrictions, as shown in the screenshot below.

The video, and more

According to the video/transcript, attending the press event were the Nets' Bruce Brown and the Liberty's Betnijah Laney and DiDi Richards.

Hochul connected the incentive to others with sports teams: "We have our Vax to Win NFL sweepstakes. We were giving away tickets to people who got their vaccinations and they got tickets for the Buffalo Bills, the Giants, the Jets. We had our players at the press conferences. So now we're taking it to the court..."


Benjamin sounded like a good lieutenant--and surrogate: "COVID has killed over 5 million people across the world. This is one of the most horrific pandemics that we have ever seen, and we need all of us working together under great leadership like Governor Kathy Hochul."

At the end of the video, Abbamondi said that The Strokes, who are playing a New Year's Eve show, have donated 100 tickets, as well, from a sold-out concert.

"Kids, why don't you come on up," Abbamondi said. "We'll get a picture and then we'll start hooping."

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