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Post: Nets lost 30% of season ticket holders as prices soared, Kevin Durant sought trade

Toronto Raptors v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

When Kevin Durant was asked about the consequences of his trade demand, he minimized things by saying, “I didn’t miss any games, I didn’t miss any practices, I’m still here.”

But a lot of season ticket holders are not. Josh Kosman and Brian Lewis report exclusively Monday that the Nets suffered a disastrous drop in season ticket sales for 2022-23, worst in the NBA.

Kosman, who covers business for the Post, and Lewis write:

The Brooklyn Nets are dead last in the NBA when it comes to season ticket sales — with demand off more than 30% from last year as the new season tips off, sources told The Post.

For the 2022-23 campaign, billionaire Joe Tsai’s money-losing franchise had sold roughly 5,500 season tickets at the 17,732-seat Barclays Center, according to an NBA owner and an insider who both saw a recent confidential league report.

That’s well below last year’s total — which insiders estimated between 8,000 and 9,000 — and lands the Nets in last place among the NBA’s 30 teams, according to league insiders.

The Nets declined to comment, the Post reporters note, but a “source close to the team” said the club relies less on those sales to fill the Barclays Center than team’s in other markets. Indeed, as a team with an arena in an urban setting, the Nets rely on single game sales and impulse buys, but the depth of the Nets drop is dramatic.

“They do not focus on season tickets as much as others because they believe they can make more on same-day tickets,” another source told the Post. “But it is still core to their business and represents most ticket sales.”

The Nets are in the middle of NBA clubs in revenue, per the report, but note that the Nets ticket prices were ‘jacked up” by as much as 50% last year.

Last season, single-game sales buttressed the season ticket total to help the Nets finish 10th in average paid attendance, according to NBA confidential financials obtained by The Post — not far behind crosstown rival Knicks. The Nets drew 14,919 per game, a 26.3% spike from the previous non-pandemic year, generating $2.15 million in average net gate receipts, a 108.5% increase year-over-year, according to the data.

Although the team won’t talk, it seems clear that the Durant trade request in late June and the uncertainty of Kyrie Irving’s status, coming so soon after the Nets disappointing regular season and humiliating sweep at the hands of the Celtics, was a big factor in the drop. Much of that came during prime renewal season. In fact, Kosman and Lewis write that after being swept, the Nets lowered prices in the summer for some long-term season ticket holders.

Anecdotally, the Post talked to a season ticket holder with courtside seats who said that with the higher prices, the cost of his two tickets would have soared to $1 million if the Nets get to the Finals.

“I couldn’t justify the price they wanted,” said the anonymous fan said, noting he had been a season ticket holder since the 1990s. “We know three or four other season ticket holders who did not renew. One said he would rather give money to Ukraine than give the Nets extra money.”

The Nets governor, Joe Tsai told Sportico two weeks before the KD trade request that he was “confident” annual revenue generated by the Nets and Barclays Center could “get to $500 million over the next two or three years.” Forbes wrote at around the same time that he hoped to get to a billion dollars within seven years. The Nets generated $343 million this past fiscal year.

According to a previous Post story by the same authors, the Nets and Barclays Center lost between $50 and $100 million last year, a cost which Tsai has picked up. Tsai told NetsDaily a year ago that without the luxury tax — $98 million last year — he would have made a profit. He said that he considered the luxury tax a long-term investment.

Tsai bought full the Nets and Barclays Center’s operating company in three years ago this month.

So far this season, the Nets have sold out their two home games and had a record 8,000 fans show up for the annual Practice in the Park, but Steve Nash heard some boos and Durant got a lukewarm reception.