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John Abbamondi: Nets will go after ‘next generation’ of fans in New York

2019 NHL Club Business Meetings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Conceding that middle-aged fans like him aren’t going to change their loyalties easily, the Nets new CEO told season ticket holders Friday that he hopes to focus on the “next generation” of fans in the city ... and beyond.

It was John Abbamondi’s first meeting —via Zoom call— with season ticket holders since he was officially named CEO of the Nets and BSE Global, Joe Tsai’s holding company a little more than a week ago. He took questions from fans that were relayed by Chris Carrino.

Abbamondi described that “next generation” as fans who are as young as 8-to-10 year-olds, believing that if, as expected, the Nets have success in the coming years, it will translate to lifelong loyalty. He didn’t say what specific initiatives he’d institute to make that happen.

He described BSE Global, which includes Tsai’s teams and Barclays Center, as being in the “happiness business” with a mission to entertain.

Although he last worked as executive vice president for ticketing, suites and hospitality at Madison Square Garden Company, Abbamondi noted that he’s also worked both in the NBA league office and for the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals of the MLB. In fact, he was assistant GM of the Cardinals for three years. He described “Moneyball” guru Billy Beane as one of his mentors.

Abbamondi, 48, spoke as well about how COVID-19 has affected New Yorkers and the recent Black Lives Matter protests that centered on Barclays Center. Currently living in Manhattan, Abbamondi said he can hardly wait to move to Brooklyn.

Talking about New York during COVID crisis, Abbamondi noted the disparity between city’s rich and poor. He may be “inconvenienced,” he told Carrino, but others with fewer resources have been “devastated.”

Abbamondi said he was proud to work for Joe Tsai particularly because of the way the Nets owner endorsed social justice in the early days of the George Floyd protests around the arena. Many in New York and the NBA have noted the difference between Tsai’s reaction and that of Abbamondi’s former boss, James Dolan, and Madison Square Garden.

Abbamondi, in fact, went a bit further Friday, saying, “We’re honored that people can come together at Barclays Center to protest peacefully.”

On a personal note, the new CEO spoke about his seven years in the U.S. Navy as a weapons officer flying the EA-6B carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft. Abbamondi flew 40 combat missions from aircraft carriers off the southern coast of Iraq.

Abbamondi told Carrino that he was inspired by the 1986 movie, “Top Gun.” He was more like “Goose,” the Anthony Edwards character, than “Maverick,” played by Tom Cruise, he said. Abbamondi added that his job included being a “coach” to young pilots, helping them complete the mission and land safely back on the carrier. That “coaching” role, he said, has helped him in his career as well.

He described himself as an avid fan of “The Grateful Dead” and noted his dog is named “David Bowie,” who he calls “Bowie.”