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With Move to Brooklyn, Islanders Looking More and More like Nets

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The Nets and Islanders have more things in common than just being the 'little-brother' teams to the Knicks and Rangers.

The teams will share a home yet again and the shared marketing team is hoping to duplicate what they started with the Nets. It's becoming obvious now as the Islanders make their move from the worn-out Nassau Coliseum of Nassau County, to the brand-spankin' new rink at Barclays Center of Brooklyn.

The man running the show(s), Brett Yormark, appears to have a different vision for what it really means to be a professional sports team in Brooklyn. It's special.

Hey, they're both two franchises introducing themselves to a bigger market. Both teams won their only championships at Nassau Coliseum, the Nets in the 70's and the Islanders in the 80's. They want to get the flare back; some swagger. The 'Brooklyn' way.  The new, black-and-white alternate Islander jersey is just one part of it, a big part, but only a part.

Something Jay-Z brought into this whole thing. As he raps in Empire State of Mind, "Make a Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee game," is a representation to the situation to a lesser extent. He helped open up the Barclays Center while unveiling the Nets' black & white away jersey, on the first night of an eight-show tour in his home borough.

"I've been on many stages all around the world," said Jay-Z. "Nothin' feels like tonight, Brooklyn, I swear to God." He added: "This is the house that Brooklyn built. Welcome to my house!"

He helped produce a 'Brooklyn brand' that would mean something different. Something as new and different as the hip borough deserves. It had to be perfect. It's not often that you get to build up a city's first franchise in over 50 years. Yormark and the Nets had a helping hand from one of the most influential entertainers in the country. Who better than him?

The Nets went from 31st in merchandise (behind the extinct Seattle SuperSonics), to fourth when they moved to Brooklyn and changed the color scheme. A lot of it was Jay-Z's promotion.  As he also said, "I'm a business ... man."

So now, the Islanders get a piece of something special in the making in Brooklyn, that jersey and those black-and-white patches (badges?) commemorating the NHL's first season at the opposite end of Long Island. Islander fans feared that Yormark wanted to originally make the teams colors black-and-white, and that team's name the "Brooklyn Islanders."  But despite some continuing paranoia in some quarters, those fears have been shot  down. But Yormark did express his desire to re-brand a team that finished last in attendance in 2013.

"The colors black and white are the new badge of honor in Brooklyn. The question is, can we weave that into the [Islanders] color scheme, and create a connection to the fans here in Brooklyn?" Yormark asked.

That's one golden question. Can hockey in Brooklyn be successful? It's a similar situation to the Nets moving in, but Nets officials were disappointed when they read the low numbers of season ticket holders from New Jersey. Will it be the same for the Islanders and their heartbroken Long Island fans as the years go on? It turns out that 33 percent of the first season ticket-holders will come from Brooklyn, about 25 percent from Long Island ... and another 20 percent from Manhattan.  So far, so good.

The alternate black-and-white jersey replaces one that Islander fans hated anyway.  They'll wear them in 12 games Who knows?  There might more. The Nets have worn a variety of jerseys in only three seasons. Eight to be exact. And do note that arguably the most popular has been a knockoff of the New York Nets uniforms from their last ABA champs ... when both teams played in the same building. It wasn't an accident.

It's a push to fit that 'Brooklyn brand'.

Looks awfully familiar to the Nets logos...

And yesterday these were released:

Then, Thursday morning, there was this...

Sure it's just colors, but it's a special kind of culture that is being promoted. Branding out and staying consistent with the Brooklyn brand, just like Pittsburgh does with black and yellow with their sports teams. Yormark seems to have his hands full trying to repeat what he's doing with the Nets.  Market, market, market, promote, promote, promote.

The Nets have even released the photos of some of the guys rocking the new gear.

Not the first time the teams have collaborated...


What does this mean for the Nets?

So here's the other golden question. Will Islanders not just replicate the Nets success in Brooklyn, but also become the big tenant in Brooklyn's big arena, Brooklyn's winter team?

As we've seen in the past with most teams in pro sports, if the team isn't a winning product, the seats do not get filled. When the Nets picked up star-caliber players and the going was good, the arena was packed. This year, pundits truly believe the Nets could have a disappointing season. It will certainly play a role in ticket sales, but in the first three years, the Nets have sold 97 percent of all their seats. The Islanders, a young, up-and-coming team, are expected to have another winning season, maybe contend for the Stanley Cup!

Does this mean the Nets get eased out a bit? Especially if the Nets become irrelevant as many predict, and the Islanders are successful as many predict. Or will the Islanders success in Brooklyn have a reverse effect?  The Nets are not shy about noting the potential for cross-marketing with the Islanders in Nassau and Suffolk, Knick strongholds..

We're sorta seeing that already...

Front glass of the Barclays Center under the Oculus.

Subway entrance. "Hello Brooklyn" is now, "The puck drops in October." For now...

It barks up the question: Will the Nets becomes guests in their own homes?

I mean, the culture thing of it all is great. Establishing black & white as an alternative seems like a fair deal for both parties. But...

Think about walking into a sporting arena/stadium. Each have their own different vibe: smell, sights, people, etc. At Barclays, if you're a Nets fan, you feel at home. But now, you see colors in a black and white arena. Specifically, and all over the place, you see the Islanders' blue and orange colors, the same colors as the crosstown rival Knicks. Uh-oh.

It's an important aspect of walking into a stadium. The team's colors, the shops filled with black & white, posters and billboards around the areas, etc. The culture was dedicated, like Yormark said, around the 'badge of Brooklyn,' which is black and white.

If the Nets becomes less relevant and the Islanders have another winning season, what is the Brooklyn effect then?

Still, the Islanders are entering Brooklyn, a special place with so many incredible features one can hardly fit on a page. But it'll be interesting to see how Yormark, if so, slowly shifts towards a 'Brooklyn' identity. Maybe fans can start chanting, "Broooooklyn," after the Islanders score a goal, too.

And of course, the big question looms?  Will Jay and Bey show up on opening night for the Islanders?  Stay tuned.