The Long Island Nets took another step toward their real home on Monday, with season tickets for their inaugural season at Nassau Coliseum officially going on sale.
“The reality is we are now literally hauling the boat around the curb so we can park it at Nassau,” said Alton Byrd, the NBA Development League team’s vice president of business operations.
Forgive Byrd his exuberance. It has been a long road, first to establishing the Brooklyn Nets’ D-League affiliate, which has played to tiny crowds at Barclays Center in its first season there, and now to preparing for the big move east.
Monday’s ticket sale made it more tangible than ever. Adding to the vibe around the franchise was the fact that the team was to play its only prime-time home game at Barclays this season Monday against the Greensboro Swarm.
The Long Island Nets originally scheduled all of their home games for during the day — and open only some of those to the ticket-buying public — but an open night at Barclays allowed for a dry run for the future.
“We had the good fortune of a schedule opportunity,” Byrd said, “and wanted to get a sense of what it would look like and feel like at 7:30 this time next year at Nassau Coliseum on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.”
Most of what Byrd and the Nets have done and will do this season is aimed toward 2017-18, including a series of outreach efforts to communities on Long Island and to influencers in its basketball world.
“I think our approach has always been that the community hopefully will feel some level of real engagement and ownership of our franchise,” he said.
Capacity at the renovated arena for the Nets will be about 13,500, Byrd said, but season ticket sales are focused for now on the lower bowl, which seats about 5,700.
Packages for the 25-game home schedule range from $10 to $40 per ticket, with a variety of more expensive premium options available that include seating next to the court and a “VIP buffet.”
Byrd said he hopes to make the Coliseum “a very, very, very tough place to play,” and a full, loud lower bowl would help serve that purpose.
The Nets consulted with other D-League franchises, including the Westchester Knicks, in determining affordable ticket-price levels. Attracting school and youth groups will be an important focus.
Byrd said the parent Nets’ NBA-worst record this season has not hindered the marketing of the Long Island Nets, who were 11-18 entering Monday night’s game.
“It’s gratifying,” Byrd said of the season tickets going on sale, “because when I started almost a year ago, you thought you’d never get here.”