Tonight the Boston Celtics were in New Orleans to take on the Hornets. Although Mardi Gras and the recent super bowl victory may be an excuse for poor attendance, the stadium was for the most part empty. I recently read an article in the Sports Business Journal titled “Cavs among NBA elite in sales, retention”. The article had to do with the marketing, ticket sales, and economic status of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The article from the Sports Business Journal was stemmed off from the recent awards distributed at the league’s marketing meeting in Brooklyn, NY. In 2009 the NBA had only eight teams with at least 10,000 full season ticket sales and only eight teams with 2,000 or more new full-season ticket sales. Most of these teams are teams on the rise, teams in a financially stable society, or one of the elite teams in the league.
The list that sold 10,000 or more full-season ticket packages includes the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Portland Trail Blazers, and Utah Jazz. The teams new to this list are Cleveland, Orlando, and New York. It is not a coincidence that two of those team played in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and that the other is on the rise and in the economic capital of the world.
Besides the competitive nature of the team, how well they are playing, the society’s economic status etc. there is something that needs to be done by a lot of teams in the league. Away from the competition and playing of the game part of the NBA, the league is also a business and the teams need to make some sort of economic profit to survive. On January 13th the average attendance at NBA arenas throughout the league was 17,202; this is a 1.2 percent drop from last season. This is not a huge drop, but after doing extra research I found out that since 2008 league-wide attendance has been on the downfall, and at one point almost dropped to the fourth highest league-wide attendance total, even behind the NHL.
The main source of income that teams receive is through ticket sales and if they are not selling tickets than most likely they are seeing little, if any, profit. If the teams aren’t making profit they won’t be able to sign players, improve facilities, or even be able to spend dollars on marketing efforts.
Now don’t get me wrong, not all of these team’s problems lie in the lack of smart business decisions and marketing campaigns. As most of us know, many economists believe that the country recently went through a recession. Sports, being entertainment, suffered a huge setback during this time. Instead of purchasing tickets and attending games, fans were using their hard earned money to supply the basic needs to their family. Because of this a lot of teams were forced to cut back ticket sales and as a result were not able to fill up arenas across the league.
The short list of team’s mentioned in this article, and that received awards, should be very proud of themselves for standing strong in a time when most teams couldn’t. Remember there are 30 teams in this league; only EIGHT were able to sell over 10,000 full-season tickets. All eight of these teams should not only be thankful for their die-hard fans, but also that they were able to make good decisions and succeed in a time when many did not.