Durant, Irving boost Nets tickets, artists' interest in Barclays Center

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

The Brooklyn Nets’ free agency acquisitions of superstars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are affecting the bottom line of both the Nets and their home, the Barclays Center.

According to The Athletic’s Kavitha A. Davidson, the franchise unsurprisingly saw an uptick in ticket sales and online interest, while the Barclays Center is reportedly drawing renewed interest from artists for tour stops.

Irving, Durant boost Nets ticket sales

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The timeline of Irving and Durant’s move to the Nets is complicated to say the least, with players reportedly knowing about the move since February. All that matters is now they’re in Brooklyn and fans are pleased given the numbers the organization shared with The Athletic.

The Nets have already surpassed ticket revenue from the 2018-19 season and are on pace for a record year of revenue. The organization was last in attendance last year, averaging 14,941 fans per game. It was nearly 6,000 less than the league-leading Philadelphia 76ers.

Yet they’re still sixth on the Forbes list of most valuable NBA teams at an estimated worth of $2.4 billion and an overall revenue of $290 million.

As recently as 2014-15 they were ranked 20th in attendance (17,037), but dropped to fourth-worst the following year and dropped an additional spot each of the next two seasons.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be having fun in front of more fans than the Nets have seen recently. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will be having fun in front of more fans than the Nets have seen recently. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters)

Per The Athletic, the team had 1,000 calls from fans looking to buy tickets on June 30, the first day of free agency and the day Irving and Durant announced their intentions. “Nets tickets” saw a steep increase in Google searches after the news, per Front Office Sports.

The Nets website saw a 675 percent increase in traffic and the main Instagram account netted 100,000 new followers, per The Athletic. As of Wednesday the account had 1.4 million followers.

Brett Yormark, CEO of the Nets’ parent company BSE Global, told The Athletic it’s a “marathon, not a sprint” but they’re making the most of progress and momentum.”

Irving, Durant boost Barclays Center events

Boosting interest, attendance and revenue on the basketball side of operations helps other events at Barclays Center, and the addition of Irving and Durant comes at a clutch time.

Jay-Z opened the Barclays Center in September 2012 and the following year sold his stake in the team and arena to focus on Roc Nation Sports, his sports agency company. The arena has been among the top-grossing U.S. venue rankings over the past seven years.

As the “anchor tenant,” Yormark told The Athletic he’s hoping the increased interest in the Nets will lead to excitement around other things, especially in selling suites.

“No different than what I’m sure LeBron (James) meant to Staples Center when he went there, we’re sensing the same enthusiasm for the building from the artist community. These artists that are now announcing their tours, they want to play Kyrie and KD’s building. They want to play the hip, cool building in Brooklyn where the stars are playing. So it has an effect on your programming and content.”

Yormark did not share if any artists had specifically signed on to play at the arena. Upcoming booked artists include the Backstreet Boys, Kiss, Shawn Mendes, Mary J. Blige and Nas on The Royalty Tour and Chris Brown.

The New York Islanders also play at Barclays, though the arena isn’t set up well for hockey. That and leaving Nassau County have created issues, and arena management isn’t seeing worthwhile numbers from ticket sales.

The New York Liberty have a few games at Barclays on their schedule this season and owner Joseph Tsai, who also owns 49 percent of the Nets, wants to see it become the WNBA squad’s permanent home.

The Liberty averaged nearly 10,000 fans when they played at MSG. Prior to 2018 they were moved to Westchester County, a longer commute and far smaller arena with poor viewing. Their attendance was cut in half.

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