Nets selling — (UPDATE) and giving away — “blackout in Brooklyn” shirts

ESPN Sports Business reporter Darren Rovell reported on Twitter this morning that the Brooklyn Nets, who are encouraging their fans to wear black for the playoffs for a “Blackout in Brooklyn,” are selling black t-shirts, for the price of $22.

To compare, in every year the Oklahoma City Thunder made the playoffs, the Thunder gave away new shirts for every single game to “blue out” or “white out” the arena, placing them on each seat throughout Chesapeake Energy Arena. Nobody ever paid for the shirts they were wearing to color the arena, according to Daily Thunder‘s Royce Young.

According to a fan who claims he spoke with the Nets ticket office this morning, they emphatically said the team would not be giving away t-shirts for the first playoff game. I spoke with the Nets ticket office later in the afternoon and a representative said they “can’t release that information.”

Nets CEO Brett Yormark tweeted on April 13th that the team would give away black shirts at the front door:

This is potentially another misstep in a season chock-full of marketing issues for Brooklyn:

  • Yormark tweeted that “changes must be made” after a Christmas Day loss with fans clamoring for Avery Johnson’s head (Johnson was fired two days later).
  • The Nets shut down their clever, off-beat PR account, saying that it didn’t fit with the “voice” the team was trying to represent, a decision met with widespread criticism.
  • As Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report notes often, the Nets promised 2,000 tickets priced at $15 for lower-income fans across Brooklyn, without coming through on that promise. Next year, they’re $25.
  • The Nets playoff package is particularly shrewd (and that’s the nice word): for partial-season ticket holder Erica Dagley, they allow you to “pay as you go” only if you commit to a “full-season” package for next season. Otherwise, you pay for all four rounds, including the NBA Finals, upfront. For two seats in the lower section, that amounts to roughly $5,300, for two seats in the upper sections, roughly $4,900. They’ll refund you if the Nets lose before then, but you still have to cough up the dough ahead of time for four rounds to see the Nets once. Update: The plan seems different for different levels: half-season ticket holders are eligible for “pay as you go” with a renewal of the half-season plan, rather than an upgrade to the full-season plan.

My advice to the Nets: you want to create a real community in Brooklyn? Make people feel like you’re inviting them to something. Don’t make it about how much money you can take from the community now. Get them involved in a way that doesn’t feel like you have to “buy in.”

Brooklyn is a long-term game. You’re here for a while. Take the hit. Give away the damn shirts.

UPDATE: Brett Yormark confirms that the Nets will give away shirts for Game 1.