Yormark on Nets’ dismal attendance: “We’ve got to give people a reason to show up every night”

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Brett Yormark, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment that oversees the Nets, Islanders, and Barclays Center, delivered a message to the Nets through Crain’s New York Business Magazine: play better.

Yormark sat down with Crain mostly to discuss his strategy for bringing fans to New York Islanders games, which included a “seven-figure marketing campaign” they’ll roll out in 2016. The Islanders rank second-to-last in home attendance among NHL teams despite a strong 22-13-5 record, partially due to the team’s new digs and their obstructed seats that block one of the goals.

But Yormark was also asked about the Nets, who have both attendance issues and play issues. The Nets rank third-to-last in the NBA in attendance, and the number of fans who actually show up is a concern for the CEO, for obvious reasons. But Yormark also made it clear that the Nets, who are 10-24 and just lost their starting point guard for the season, have to play better to put butts in the seats:

The Nets are off to a lousy start. How do you keep fans engaged?

The team has to play better. We’ve got to give people a reason to show up every night. One area we’ve lagged from last year is the show rate: the portion of people who buy tickets and show up. We’re thinking very proactively about how we keep people engaged, create value for them and amplify the in-arena experience—so people have a wonderful experience, win or lose.

The Nets do have some decent players, but there’s no direct avenue for them to improve this season. Barring a trade of unexpected value, the Nets lack the talent to compete in the Eastern Conference and the draft picks to improve with young players in the next few seasons.

Their next chance at success lies in the offseason, when they’ll be armed with $40 million in cap room, but even that comes with a caveat: they’re one of the many teams that will experience a boon in cap space from the upcoming TV deal.

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