Only five seasons removed from making consecutive NBA Finals appearances, the New Jersey Nets have begun a transition to a new era in the franchise’s history.
During last season, the team traded the face of the franchise in Jason Kidd to the Dallas Mavericks at the trading deadline. Now they have traded Richard Jefferson this off-season to the Milwaukee Bucks, and have stockpiled more young talent and more cap room. The team is also expected to relocate to the New York City borough of Brooklyn in two seasons after spending the last 30 years in New Jersey.
As changes continue, one thing never changes, the team needs to sell tickets. Not only for the Izod Center in New Jersey, but also to their new arena in Brooklyn.
“There are challenges everywhere,” Mark Higuera, senior account manager for the Nets, told TicketNews. “The bottom line is that whether the team is good or bad, I still have to sell tickets.”
He and other executives from the ticketing operations department of the team, have the responsibility of selling tickets and sometimes, as Higuera puts it, have to “think outside the box.”
Higuera recently attended Ticket Summit in Las Vegas to do just that. It was his first venture with the secondary ticket market and was a huge success for him.
“It was a great place to network,” he said adding that he sold 24 season tickets and accumulated dozens of future leads.
While continuing to work to sell tickets for the upcoming season, he and the Nets also have begun selling tickets to the Barclays Center, the future Brooklyn home of the franchise. The team expects the transition from East Rutherford to New York City’s most populated borough to be seamless. A short drive or train ride from New Jersey, the team expects to keep most of their current fan base. They also expect to benefit from the move, as Brooklyn is estimated to have more than 2.5 million residents.
“If Brooklyn was its own city, it would be the fourth biggest in the country,” he said. “We’ll be OK.”
Even though the Barclays Center is still currently under construction, Higuera needs to sell potential buyers on the advantages of the new arena. Beyond telling them about the additional amenities, restaurants and bathrooms, he has the advantage of a $6 million showroom in Manhattan constructed to allow clients to view seats and potential sight angles.
“I try to use it as much as possible; it definitely has helped me and the other departments here close business,” he said. “The first thing potential clients say is ‘I can’t believe you have this’, and ‘I was not expecting this, this is pretty impressive.'”
When the Nets arrive in Brooklyn in 2010, it could potentially get a whole lot easier to sell season tickets, as the move will coincide with superstar Lebron James potentially opting out of his current contract. Reportedly the Nets will be the front-runners to receive his services.
“My favorite borough? Brooklyn,” James said to ESPN. “Brooklyn is definitely a great place here in New York City, and some of my best friends are from Brooklyn, so I stick up for them.”
James is also close friends with hip hop mogul Jay-Z, who owns a small piece of the Nets.
“Obviously we cleared some [cap] space,” Higuera said of the team’s player salary obligations, but he added that he could not comment on players under contract with other teams.
When the Nets make their move it is not known what name they will use, but are currently under the working title of Brooklyn Nets.