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How much are NBA tickets? What's the average price?

The rise and rise of astronomical NBA ticket prices has now lost all contact with planet earth. How much can you look to pay for an evening out?

The rise and rise of astronomical NBA ticket prices has now lost all contact with planet earth. How much can you look to pay for an evening out?

One of the great things about basketball is the experience of seeing it live. It is unlike any other sport. Oh, sure, attending an NFL or MLB game is a great day, but for a full-on visceral experience, you can’t beat the NBA. There is something lost in the translation to television. Whether you love the game or not, there is no denying that the closeness of the action is breathtaking. I mean, they are right there! You can feel the court rumble underfoot, you can hear them talk, the sweat is in the air and the fans can feel it in a way unlike any other major sporting event.

Attending an NBA game in person is not only desirable to the league, but I would argue that it is vital to the survival of fan interest. Television contracts and corporate floor tickets may pay the bloated wages, but they do little to foster a love of the game in the next generation. That depends entirely on regular family access to game day tickets.

Those ticket prices will vary widely across the league by city and by team. In San Francisco, a ticket to see the Warriors at the Chase Center will set you back an eye-watering $589 on average. In Minneapolis, a Timberwolves ticket will run you $91, the only team this season, by the way, whose average ticket price is less than a C-note. These prices represent a nearly 200% increase over the past decade. It doesn’t take a Philadelphia lawyer to figure out that a family of four spending nearly $1200 for a night out is not even close to the realms of possibility. For courtside, each person could be paying anywhere upwards of $60,000!

The range is enormous and there are multiple factors at play to determine where on that pendulum your team will fall. Ticket prices are actually set by the team, not the league. For larger markets teams, like LA or New York, the demand drives prices up. Also, the tickets will vary by venue, by opponent, and by how well the team is doing. While it is entirely possible to get a $10 ticket to a game, that seat will be worth exactly that. In a word, terrible. And that is the problem. The experience is everything in building fan loyalty and if all you can afford is a miserable experience, they it won’t be long before you drift off to something else. Conversely, if you can afford the experience of courtside seats, you are less likely to lend to the atmosphere that makes the live NBA game so experiential. When the Detroit Pistons moved from the Silverdome to the Palace back in the 80s, John Salley complained, “We used to play in front of the auto workers. Now we play in front of the auto executives."

Teams need to realize the importance of fan attendance. Not just high-earners, but the rank and file. They are the future and you alienate them at your peril.


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