Nets sell appearance by players

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For $25,000, you can watch the New Jersey Nets from courtside -- and have a player stop by your son's birthday party.

In a tough economy, it's the Nets' latest marketing effort to sell its pricey courtside seats. It's called 'Your Ticket to a Player.'

For $25,000, the Nets are offering four courtside tickets for 10 games, parking, access to a private lounge at the Izod Center with free food and beverages and something more -- a one-hour appearance by a Nets player of your choice at your home, office, school or party.

"It will be interesting to have an NBA player come to your birthday party or come to your Bar Mitzvah or even just coming to your house for dinner for an hour when your friends are over," Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said. "That's a terrific thing and it's tough to put a price tag on it."

The package offers a discount: Purchased individually, Nets courtside seats sell for $750 each and 40 would cost $30,000.

Yormark said the idea for the courtside plan developed because he had an inventory of courtside seats that he wanted to sell and he frequently gets calls from season-ticket holders and fans about having a player attend an event.

Players will not be compensated for the one-hour visits, the Nets said.

"It helps everybody to have more fans at our games, so if the players can make a difference by meeting with ticket buyers at their homes or offices, we are happy to participate," Nets All-Star guard Devin Harris said.

While Harris is the most popular Nets player, Yormark said not everyone will get their top choice of players for an appearance.

The Nets hope to sell 20 plans, which would raise $500,000.

Yormark said teams have to find different ways to sell tickets in a recession. He believes the Nets are the first NBA team to package tickets sales with a player appearance.

"I tell people if you are doing business the same way you did a year ago, you have to stop it because that's not the world we live in today," Yormark said. "A lot of people say it, but it's really true in the world we live in today. You have to do things differently. Things have to be more special and different than before and that's our goal."

Two months ago, the Nets unveiled a special 10-game "Match-Up" ticket plan under which fans got a collection of reversible jerseys with the uniforms of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard on one side and the jersey of the Nets' player on the other side.

"It's been the best partial-plan seller since I've been here," Yormark said. "Fans love it. Kids are loving the jerseys. It's something that is going to live all season for us. It's going to be an anchor to our ticket sales effort."