Instead of wins, Nets offer fans windfall returns
The struggling New Jersey Nets have come up with another gimmick to sell tickets during a season in which they've won only six games.
This time, they're giving fans a different return on their money - a tax return.
The Nets have combined with Roni Deutch Tax Center to offer a free New Jersey income tax return to state residents 18 years and older who attend their game against the Orlando Magic on Friday night at the Izod Center.
Patrons won't get their state taxes done on the spot. They'll be given a coupon for a free state tax return. The cost is usually $29.
Not a bad return from a team that has a shot at breaking the NBA record for fewest wins in a season.
``I know two things about sports fans: They take sports very seriously and they still have to deal with the IRS,'' Deutch said.
The nationwide company, which has offices in Hackensack, Bergenfield and Fair Lawn, also will have representatives at the game to answer tax-related questions.
Deutch said having the promotion now was a natural fit because the NBA and tax seasons overlap.
``I think the wonderful thing about taxation is you have to dance with the IRS and, if you live in New Jersey, you've got to dance with the state tax entity as well,'' Deutch said. ``Most people, when they hire a tax preparer, they have to do the federal and state returns. If we are giving them a $29 free state return, they are going to say to their preparer:
'This is fantastic. I get a free state tax return, I also get a coupon for $30 to $50 off the federal return and I'm going to qualify for two Nets tickets to a future game.' I call that win, win, win.''
Deutch wasn't concerned about how much it would cost if a big crowd attended the game, which features All-Star center Dwight Howard and the return of former Nets guard Vince Carter.
``I pray to God we have to do 100,000 tax returns,'' Deutch said. ``Believe me, I want to overwhelm my franchisees in New Jersey and do 100,000 tax returns, and let's get some Nets wins, for goodness sakes.''
With the team challenging the Philadelphia 76ers' league-worst record of 9-73 set in 1972-73, selling tickets has not been easy.
``Obviously, this has been a challenging season on the court, but we remain committed to delivering for our partners and our fans,'' Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said. ``This is another example of how we can do both.''
The Nets have had some very creative approaches to sales.
One recent pitch titled ``Your Ticket to a Player'' offered prospective fans the opportunity to have Devin Harris, Brook Lopez or any other player on the roster stop by at a family birthday party.
All you had to do was pay $25,000 for four courtside tickets for 10 games. You got parking, food and drinks, too.
There also was a 10-game ``Match-Up'' ticket plan through which their fans got a collection of reversible jerseys with the uniforms of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade and Howard on one side and a Nets player on the other.