By Chris Dell and Jonathan Moffie
Sipping on his $9.50 beer on the second level concourse at Barclays Center on Veteran's Day, Steve Dybn was in no rush to get back to his seat. Sunday's attendance was below max capacity for the third time in as many games, and fans like Mr. Dybn have begun to take notice. The 30-year-old Williamsburg, Brooklyn, resident says reality hasn't matched the hype that led up to the 2012 regular season for the Brooklyn Nets. "This is the first major pro team in Brooklyn since 1957, and I was just surprised how empty it is in here," he said. Only 16,523 fans showed up to the third home game of Brooklyn's inaugural season, leaving empty seats scattered throughout every section for the Nets-Magic contest on Sunday afternoon.
Nets' owners Mikhail Prokhorov and Bruce Ratner banked on winning over Knicks fans, but the formula has resulted in zero sellouts so far at the $1 Billon Barclays Center.
The Knicks are currently the only undefeated team in the NBA, while the Nets just made it above .500 with their 82-74 victory over the 2-4 Orlando Magic.
The Nets' second home game against the Timberwolves on November 5th marked a season-low in attendance, drawing only 14,017 fans.
Through three games this season the Brooklyn Nets are averaging 556 less fans per game than they did in 2011, when they called the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, home.
"Tough town man," said Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Jerry Stackhouse.
"The fans aren't going to just hand their loyalty over, we got to earn it and I appreciate that." Stackhouse is no stranger to trying to win over a new fan base: The two-time all-star has played for eight different teams during his 17-year NBA career. And the 38-year-old veteran says he knew it would be a difficult task to lure New Yorkers. "We might be able to recruit some true Brooklynites, but you have to earn the respect of New York fans first," he said. "They're like Phiily fans you know, tough love."
The Barclays Center may be a venue fit for courtside celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyonce, yet its the nosebleed seats that seem to be the only consistent sell.
Some of Brooklyn's other famous native sons, such as Spike Lee, aren't impressed.
Nets power forward Kris Humphries, who earned the game ball from coach Avery Johnson with a career-high 21 rebounds, knows there's only one proven way in professional sports to get people to jump on the bandwagon.
"No matter where you play, winning puts the fans in the stands." Read next page
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