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June 22, 2011
The Nets Take Their Pitch to Brooklyn
The Wall Street Journal
by Amara Grautski
Guess what, Brooklynites! That ennui you've been feeling is your inability, after 50-odd years, to get over the Dodgers.
Given that only 8% of the Nets' 2010-11 season-ticket holders hail from Brooklyn, the team has work to do before it begins play next year at its new home, the under-construction Barclays Center. Not surprisingly, the Nets are hard at work making themselves visible. Let the handshaking and baby-kissing begin.
The team has put up seven billboards and has sent its envoys out to make a spate of public appearances. In March, there was a clinic hosted by center Brook Lopez at Bushwick High School. On June 9, Johnson read the book "Salt in His Shoes" to a group of children at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
And on Friday, joined by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, former Nets center Darryl Dawkins participated in, perhaps, the acme of the team's public relations attack: a tree-donating ceremony in Fort Greene Park.
Although Brooklyn residents and business owners account for 40% of the 2012-13 Nets premium season tickets sold thus far, there's no guarantee the efforts of the Barclays-Nets Community Alliance (which invests $1 million per year in local non-profits) and other displays of affection will grow a fan base.
The borough has yet to recover from the relocation of its beloved Dodgers and the demolition of Ebbets Field—Brooklyn Dodgers T-shirts and hats are still worn at Cyclones games.
NoLandGrab: And all those Che Guevara t-shirts are worn by people who still haven't recovered from the Cuban Revolution.
The wearing of historical shirts and hats is evidence more of homage than of wound. But boosters of the team's move, including Nets Sports and Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark, like to make the connection.
To repeat... As I wrote in March 2009, Michael D’Antonio's revisionist biography of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley, Forever Blue: The True Story of Walter O'Malley, Baseball's Most Controversial Owner, and the Dodgers of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, put Dodgers nostalgia in perspective, blaming it on Roger Kahn’s book The Boys of Summer.
The Dodgers left in 1957.
Posted by eric at June 22, 2011 1:29 PM