Are Nets' Promised Cheap Seats for Sale?

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The Nets hosted Boston in October. Arena boosters said there would be 2,000 cheap tickets for games like this one, but fans say it seems like far fewer are actually available.

Photo by: Erik Cleves Kristensen

The Nets hosted Boston in October. Arena boosters said there would be 2,000 cheap tickets for games like this one, but fans say it seems like far fewer are actually available.

The new Barclays Center arena offers not just 100 luxury suites and amenities aimed at high-rollers but also “something for everyone,” the free daily Metro told us last Aug. 28. “Average Joes, fear not. For each Nets game, 2,000 tickets will be priced at $15 and less.”

“We have 2,000 seats priced at 15 dollars and under,” Brett Yormark, the Nets/arena CEO, told RealGM last June, in a frequent talking point for arena backers. “It’s been our goal from day one to have affordable seating and pricing for anyone that wants to experience Brooklyn Nets basketball.”

It may sound like those 2,000 tickets would be available for purchase, but, as some Average Joes have discovered, those $15 seats are tough to snag. Fans must be quick on the trigger, persistent, or plain lucky.

For example, on Nov. 5, the Nets on Facebook at 7:41 am announced $15 tickets for the game that night. A few fans, in Facebook comments, soon reported scoring tickets, but one groused, at 8:25 a.m., “These tickets seem never to be available, even if you pounce on the link immediately. You are alienating your fan base.”

“Keep trying, Tom,” the voice of the Brooklyn Nets responded, implying that tickets would dribble out.

Indeed, they did. At 9:41 am, Tom reported that he finally got tickets, though it was “painful. I had to try about 40 times.”

So, how many tickets are there? A Nets press release Sept. 10 stated ambiguously, “A limited number of individual tickets starting at $15 each will be made available 72 hours prior to each Brooklyn Nets home game.” In practice, most sales have begun less than 24 or 48 hours before the games. They're launched not only via Facebook but also Twitter.

Facebook commenters suggest the total is small. One clue: those seeking $15 tickets for the Nets' Nov. 2 delayed home opener clicked to a graphic on the team's Ticketmaster page, which indicated 301 seats.

Big PR point

The Brooklyn Nets surely offer more bargain tickets than do the more established New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Still, the $15 seats seem as much public relations gambit as community commitment.

Indeed, when Atlantic Yards was announced in December 2003, arena developer Bruce Ratner claimed that “probably the overall guiding principle is inclusiveness.” As part of that, tickets would be “affordable for everybody.”

Six months later, Ratner's then-Atlantic Yards point man, Jim Stuckey, told the New York City Council the arena should have $15 seats for “the average family.”

“This arena should not simply be another corporate playground,” added Borough President Marty Markowitz, the team's biggest booster, at the Council hearing. “It must be enjoyed by Brooklyn's working families.”

In a July 2004 editorial, the New York Times approvingly opined, “To address another longstanding complaint about sports projects, Mr. Ratner says 3,000 of the 19,000 seats for Nets games at the new Frank Gehry-designed arena will be sold at levels many neighborhood residents could afford—around $15.”

That inflated total lasted through a May 2005 presentation to City Council, during which Forest City promised “approximately” 3,000 such “screecher” seats.

However, a month later, a city press release issued upon Forest City's signing the Community Benefits Agreement promised 2,000 seats, not 3,000. The cut in cheap seats emerged before the arena itself was downsized.

By early 2007, after reports surfaced that Nets' ticket prices would leap upon the team's move, team spokesman Barry Baum said, “We want to make Nets games in Brooklyn as accessible for everyone and so we’re providing 2,000 $15 tickets.”

This past summer, in the ramp-up to the Sept. 28 arena opening, the cheap seats were frequently invoked. For example, Markowitz, in his Summer 2012 Brooklyn!! promotional publication, asserted, “Fifty percent of Nets tickets will be $55 or less and 2,000 tickets will be $15 per game.”

Some cheap season tickets

Actually, an unknown fraction “will be” $15, because some were sold as season tickets, for more than $600, to previous ticket-holders as well as Brooklynites who got first dibs on such seats. When a team sales representative rep cold-called me this past May to hawk season tickets, I asked about the cheap seats.

“I think we're out of the 15-, 20-, and 25-dollar” seats, he responded.

Soon, when I chose another form of interaction—chatting online with a Nets rep—I was even told, “Unfortunately our $15 and $25 season tickets are sold out… We will not have it available for individual games.”

That wasn't true; the tactic seemed aimed at getting potential purchasers to buy more expensive seats. Later in the summer, other online reps were more vague. When asked if single-game seats would be available, one hedged: “I would say probably not.”

Queried in August, Baum didn't respond to questions about this practice by ticket reps. He did offer an ambiguous response regarding the number of cheap seats: “As we promised there will be $15 seats available for purchase before each game.”

One tough ticket

These days, Nets fans on Facebook and Twitter express frustration and hope when the window for bargain seats seems to open.

At 6:35 a.m. on November 26, the Nets announced “limited” $15 tickets for that night's coveted contest against the New York Knicks. As one Facebook user commented five minutes later, “I checked right as the link posted. There are no $15 seats available.”

A few people did get tickets, but the main sentiment was irritation. “How is it sold out already?” asked a fan at 6:47 a.m.

A minute later, the Brooklyn Nets persona responded, “Tickets are still available via Ticketmaster, Lisa.”

Shortly after noon on Dec. 3, the Nets announced tickets for the contest the next night, prompting the typical mix of comments, with a few new ones. “How's a teacher supposed to get $15 tickets when you post these during the day?” one asked. Indeed, anyone without online access is out of luck.