By Peter Lauria
New York Post
The New Jersey Nets are out to bolster their bottom line one backyard party at a time.
The team, whose season-ticket sales have lacked the vitality of its on-court success, has been holding intimate backyard gettogethers across the state for about a year in hopes the unprecedented and unorthodox outreach would translate into increased receipts.
Viewed at first as a long shot, the Ticket Influencer Events, as the team calls them, are now so mainstream that other NBA teams are copying it - and they have gotten corporate sponsorship.
They've also resulted in more than $1 million in season-ticket sales.
The sales spurred by the Influencer events, plus those made in the wake of the Nets' playoff run, should help the team better its off-the-court record of just four sellouts last season. Attendance was up 12 percent.
The latest event - No. 19 - last week in leafy Fanwood, N.J., was hosted by season-ticket holder Dan Strachman and had 50 guests schmoozing in his backyard with team CEO Brett Yormark and Nenad Krstic, the 7-foot center.
As the wait staff passed with trays of appetizers, Yormark talked about the club's new VIP Lounge, the team's energy and the chance to meet celebrities seated in the arena's recently added Hollywood Seats.
Krstic, of course, signed lots of autographs and held a few babies. Everyone seemed impressed with the outreach effort put forth by Bruce Ratner's club - and a few fans ponied up a total of $33,000 for full- and half-season ticket packages, not at all concerned that the team is scheduled to move to Brooklyn in a couple seasons.
Strachman, whose wife received a gift from the event's sponsor, Tiffany & Co., for hosting the soiree, felt good enough during the evening to hoist a salvo over the bow of embattled Knicks' owner James Dolan.
"Do you think I'd be able to talk to Dolan, much less have him in my house?" he asked.