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Islanders plan big push to woo Brooklyn fans ... and keep Long Island fans

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When the Nets moved from Newark to Brooklyn, their management expected that 16 percent of the team's fanbase would be from New Jersey, as measured by attendance at Nets game. The number turned out to be less, around 10 percent, according to surveys taken at Barclays Center. Brooklyn fans more than filled the gap.

Now, more than a year and a half from opening night at Barclays Center, the Islanders have hired a consulting firm to add fans from the borough and keep their fans in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Sports Business Journal reports the Isles have hired Gameplan Creative to help connect the team to its future home, the Barclays Center.

The Nets/Barclays Center ownership has good reason to fill the seats ... and acquire sponsorships. The Post reported Sunday that Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov have agreed to guarantee the Isles big bucks once they move in ... and absolve them from rent payments!

The arena’s owners guaranteed the Islanders about $50 million in annual revenue for regular season games. Barclays would keep anything it collects in sponsorship, suite and ticket sales over that amount.

The move to Barclays Center is likely to boost attendance, but the owners still run the risk that the Islanders won’t fill enough seats. The Islanders don’t pay rent during the regular season, but they will if they make the playoffs, a source added.

This, the Post noted, will make it easier for Charles Wang to sell the money-losing franchise for a much higher price than normal.

While everyone has been lauding the easy accessibility of Barclays to the LIRR station across Atlantic Avenue, SBJ's John Lombardo and Christopher Botta note Long Island fans might be turned off by the train ride home.

Long Islanders who work in Manhattan can take the railroad or subway to Barclays Center for a game and be there in less than 30 minutes. However, that train ride back to Nassau or Suffolk after the game, especially on a weeknight, might not be as appealing for students and those who have to work in the morning — making it essential the Islanders win new fans in Brooklyn and the surrounding communities.

So, a big part of the Gameplan Creative responsibilities will be to build a Brooklyn fanbase. One of the plan's big ideas is the design of a new third jersey for the team that could draw from the Nets’ signature black-and-white look, SBJ reports. No one is talking about what the goal is for Brooklyn fans but like the Nets, a winning team would help, and that's not something the Islanders have now. The team is in last place and has reached the playoffs only once in the past seven seasons. Also, SBJ's Botta reports that the Islanders took back the business operations of the team from the Nets/Barclays last month, permitting the Ratner/Prokhorov unit to focus the above mentioned marketing for 2015.