The soft economy is still hitting the NBA — the average ticket price to go see an NBA game has fallen for the second consecutive year.
The average NBA ticket costs $48.08, down 2.8 percent from last year, according to Team Marketing Report, which puts together these lists for every major sporting league, and as reported by Reuters.
Last year the average NBA ticket price fell by 2.5 percent, the first decline after nearly a decade of increases. Pretty safe bet the owners bring this little fact up in the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations — David Stern has been saying revenue is up but that teams are having to discount and work harder to get that.
However, the average cost of taking a family to an NBA game — meaning adding together the cost o four tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking, two game programs and two caps — is $289.51, up one percent from last year.
What is interesting is the NFL. NHL and MLB all saw ticket prices increase again in the last year, the NBA is the outlier.
Nineteen NBA teams cut prices while six kept them flat, according to the report. Six teams had ticket prices go up, with the Orlando Magic — moving into the new Amway Center — leading the way.
The Lakers remain the most expensive ticket with an average price of $99.25 — and they sell out almost every game. The least expensive ticket is the Memphis Grizzlies, with an average ticket price of $23.18.
Welcome to the world of variable ticket pricing.
You know, the idea taking hold in the NBA (and sports generally) that tickets to high profile games will cost more than not-in-demand games. Basic supply and demand economics.
So how much more? How about nearly four times as much. Which is more than “variable pricing” and more like “wild swings pricing.” That is what the New York Post found looking at Knicks and Nets ticket prices for this season.
A 400-level Garden seat vs. Atlanta in November costs $34.50, according to TicketMaster. But the same 400-level seat for the Dec. 27 showdown vs. James’ Heat runs $129.50 — nearly four times the normal cost.
The markup runs across the Garden. A lower-bowl, Section 95 seat for Knicks-Atlanta is priced at $110. But for the Heat game, the same seats costs $369.50. The extravagant markups also are in place for the lone visit by the world-champion Lakers Jan. 9 and the Celtics meetings.
A lot of teams are experimenting with variable pricing now, in a few years it will be the expected norm in the NBA.
But most of those teams are looking at more modest increases. Well, for now they are. If they can get away with quadrupling a normal ticket price, you can bet they will. Never underestimate what an owner will do to increase revenue.
Variable ticket pricing is coming to a city near you. It will. By the end of this decade it will be thought of as common for every major sports franchise in America.
What is it? Simply put, it will cost more to see in-demand teams like the Lakers or Heat on a weekend night than it will be to see less high profile squads like the Clippers in the middle of the week. Simple supply and demand economics.
The Hornets plans are discussed in the Times-Picayune (via TrueHoop):
Yet-to-be-determined prices will be assigned to games based on value and demand, influenced by factors such as an opponent’s quality and the day of the week the game is played. Each game will fall into one of five pricing categories: marquee, premium, classic, value and preseason.
“The concept is recognizing the fact that not all games are created equal,” [vice president of marketing Matt] Biggers said. “We play games on all different days of the week, against all different kinds of opponents during different times of the year. There are games where the demand isn’t as high as other games.
“For us, it’s about pricing more in line with what the demand is. For games that have high demand, we can price those appropriately.”
The NFL’s San Francisco 49ers have been doing this for a season. And you have been doing this too — through StubHub (and similar companies). Let the market set the price. That is the raw essence of ticket supply and demand, and season ticket holders have turned to StubHub (now with official ties to many teams) to rake it in for years, making a nice profit by selling some premiere game seats.
Now the teams want a piece of that action. Lest you think this wasn’t about the money. Because it is always about the money.
You may not like this, but you better get used to it. This kind of ticket pricing is the next wave.