Oklahoma City did it.
They got to host the Hornets for nearly two seasons after the disaster of Katrina, and they rallied around the team and made them feel at home. Games sold out and there was a passion in the marketplace. OKC showed they could be home to an NBA team. That way, when one of their own went out and bought a team with the intention of moving it there (don’t even try to say that wasn’t the plan, own it) the league did not get in the way. Oklahoma City had shown they could handle it.
Over at Fanhouse, Tom Ziller asked the question if Newark could do the same — they have the Nets for the next two seasons. (Maybe more if there are construction delays, but what are the odds of construction delays in New York?) Can Newark prove it is NBA ready?
Talking about that strategy and executing it are, of course, two different things. And the Nets have never been mistaken for a big box office draw, even when Jason Kidd took the team to the NBA Finals twice. But things are off to a good start, with the team offering some 2010-11 season tickets for $300. If the team can somehow land a marquee free agent, that’s incredible value at a sparkling new venue.
Newark has advantages — in terms of mass transportation to the venue, people from NYC more willing to commute there than the Meadowlands. It is no easy task, but something to watch.