An Up Mood in a Down Economy

August, 19, 2009
8/19/09
5:45
PM ET

If you go to a Nets game, the stands appear to be mostly empty -- there were even empty seats when New Jersey was the best team in the East.

Since then the Nets have cut costs in a major way, and recently shipped out Vince Carter, the one Net with a name casual basketball fans would know.

Meanwhile, the team has both told local fans they would be leaving town, while simultaneously encountering real challenges -- legal and financial, mainly -- to actually getting a new home built in Brooklyn.

Could there be a tougher job than delivering an upbeat message to Nets fans based in New Jersey?

To re-cap:

  • We're leaving.
  • Our star already left.
  • We're rebuilding.
  • We're having trouble getting things together in our new home.
  • You never much liked us anyway, which is why we're leaving.

And yet, please read this entire interview with Nets CEO Brett Yormark. Honestly, I dare you not to feel upbeat about the Nets, as a business.

Isn't that amazing?

Just some of the the things he says:

  • On selling tickets: "Our ticket sales versus this time last year are up approximately 10 percent in revenue. We just surpassed 1,000 new sales for full-season seats, and that's before we head into our post-Labor Day advertising campaign."
  • On sponsors: "We're about to announce 10 new sponsors, which certainly pleases me as well. In a year when we had some really big renewals, we've been able to bring back every one of those partners. In some cases, people have reduced their spending, but overall they've decided to remain with the Nets."
  • On a recent trip to China: "The Nets brand is bigger there than it's ever been. Obviously, a big part of that is Yi Jianlian. Sixty-two Nets games are televised over in China now, maybe even more this year with Yao not playing. We spent time in Shanghai, Beijing and then Hong Kong, and we expect to be able to consummate a couple of good deals from that trip. We also visited many of our partners that were with us last year: Haier, Nike China, Peak and Sina.com. They're all returning and we were very pleased with what we were able to deliver. I look at China as a great opportunity for us, both short-term and long-term." 

How much of that is sizzle, and how much is steak? I have no idea. But hats off to Yormark for selling it with gusto. Talk about a never-say-die attitude.

He even mentions some new "digital signage in the corners" of the arena. An arena that, on most nights, appears largely empty. Picture it: Now with more ads. Might seem ho-hum to me and you, but Yormark's response? "We're very excited about that." And I believe him. And for that, I think he's some kind of genius.

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