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Brett Yormark: “Fans want to see hope”

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Brett Yormark at Ribbon Cutting (Adam Pantozzi) Brooklyn Nets

In an interview with Newsday’s Neil Best, Brett Yormark talked about how with both the Nets and Islanders disappointing this season, Barclays Center has to look for other ways to sell the fan experience. And with the Nets more than the Islanders, he’s selling hope.

“Fans want to see hope; they’re in the hope business. They see that there’s a future here with these young kids, and what Sean [Marks, the general manager] and Kenny [Atkinson, the coach] are doing, so I think they’re excited about the future, and so am I.”

The CEO of the Nets and their parent corporation, Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment, says fans know what’s going on, that the organization has been honest with them.

“We told them that hey, we’re going through a bit of a reset; it’s about player development,” Yormark said. “And they’re coming out, and they love the grittiness of this team . . . They see the positive signs. They see the commitment of the coaching staff, the organization, the players, and it’s resonating.”

Yormark said the Nets “turnstile” number — the number of fans who actually attend games, not buy tickets— is actually up this year. The Nets number, he told Best, is up 6 percent compared to last season and that the Islanders’ is down only 2 percent. “So from an attendance perspective, we haven’t been compromised at all.”

The organization wouldn’t share those raw numbers, but Norman Oder, critic and chronicler of the whole Atlantic Yards project, did his own math.

Actual gate count last season, as disclosed in a report to potential bond buyers, was 11,622 for the Nets and 11,200 for the Islanders,” wrote Oder on his Atlantic Yards Report blog Saturday. “So let me try to do that math. If gate count is up 6 percent, then the Nets are drawing 12,319 attendees. If gate count is down 2 percent, then the Islanders are drawing 10,976.” The arena capacity for NBA games is 17,732.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, of course, is expanding its holdings beyond Barclays. The Mikhail Prokhorov-owned company will re-open Nassau Coliseum in less than two months and is renovating LIU’s iconic Paramount Theater, while seeking other venue business. But as Yormark himself has noted, Barclays is “the mother ship” of the operation and is likely to remain so for a while.