Blog Entry

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Posted on: December 9, 2009 9:37 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2009 9:55 am
Average paid attendance is down 3.7 percent in the NBA through the first quarter of the regular season, sending gate receipts plummeting 7.4 percent, according to league documents obtained by

Net gate receipts, the money teams make from ticket sales, fell to an average of $828,985 per game, down from $894,823 at the same point last season. Only nine teams were up or flat in average net gate receipts through Nov. 29, while 21 teams saw a decline.

The numbers are important because they reflect how even teams with relatively healthy paid attendance – such as the Mavericks, who are averaging 15,373 – are suffering due to pricing pressure from the recession. Dallas’ paid attendance is down 8.2 percent, but its gate receipts are down 15.9 percent.

They’re also important because ticket revenue factors into the overall basketball-related income (BRI) figure that is used to set the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds for next season. The NBA has stood by its projection of a decline in overall revenue this season between 2.5 percent and 5 percent, which would result in the salary cap declining from its current $57.7 million to between $50.4 million and $53.6 million. But a bigger than expected decline in BRI would seriously hamper certain teams’ plans to be big spenders in the 2010 free-agent market.

The hardest-hit franchise so far is the Detroit Pistons, whose net average gate receipts are down a staggering 42.8 percent year-over-year, according to the figures reported by teams to the league office. The Pistons made an average of $537,263 per game on ticket sales through their first eight home games, down from $938,833 at the same point last season. The Pistons, located in the epicenter of joblessness, have seen paid attendance slip 22 percent, to 14,821 from 18,993 in the first month of 2008-09.

The other teams suffering the most at the gate are the Sacramento Kings (average gate receipts down 36.2 percent), Minnesota Timberwolves (down 24.4 percent), Phoenix Suns (down 23.8 percent), Los Angeles Clippers (down 23.3 percent), Milwaukee Bucks (down 23.2 percent), and Golden State Warriors (down 22.3 percent). Clearly, the Suns’ bottom line has not benefited from the team’s 15-7 start, nor have the Bucks been able to translate excitement over rookie point guard Brandon Jennings into ticket revenue.

The Atlanta Hawks (15-6), long challenged in the attendance department but off to their best start in a decade, have seen a league-high 26.8 percent increase in net gate receipts – to $468,036 per game, up from $369,157 at this point last season. Atlanta is selling an average of 10,573 tickets per game, up from 7,900 at this point last season. The other top gainers in net gate receipts are the Denver Nuggets (up 20.3 percent), Orlando Magic (up 17.7 percent), Portland Trail Blazers (up 12.3 percent), and Cleveland Cavaliers (up 11.8 percent).

UPDATE: Mike Bass, the NBA's senior vice president for marketing communications, said gate receipts are down less than the league projected.

"All of our teams have been very responsive to the financial concerns of our fans," Bass said in a statement to "The majority of our teams have held or lowered ticket prices this season, and all have introduced a number of creative, family-friendly ticket options in response to the financial difficulties our fans are facing. The response has been extremely positive as attendance is off slightly from last year, which was our third highest attendance in history."

League-wide, average paid attendance through Nov. 29 was 13,187, down 3.7 percent from 13,699 at this point last season.

The five best:

Cleveland: 18,157, up 10.4 percent
Portland: 17,714, down 0.5 percent
New York: 17,523, up 4.2 percent
Boston: 17,067, up 0.8 percent
Bulls: 16,272, down 2.4 percent

The five worst:

Memphis: 6,879, up 6.8 percent
Sacramento: 7,606, down 21.1 percent
Milwaukee: 8,331, down 26.7 percent
Philadelphia: 8,701, down 16.4 percent
Charlotte: 8,969, up 4.7 percent

The disparity between high-revenue teams and low-revenue teams is one of the key issues looming with owners and players preparing for negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. As expected, owners have notified the players’ association that they will not extend the current agreement, which expires after the 2010-11 season.

Compared to full-season figures for 2008-09, the number of teams netting less than $500,000 in gate receipts per home game has grown from five to eight, with the Sixers, Kings, and Bobcats joining the Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Bucks, Pacers, and Hawks in the under-$500K club. But pricing pressure also has affected the high-revenue clubs. Compared to full-season totals from ’08-’09, the number of teams netting at least $1 million per home game has shrunk from 12 to seven, with the Spurs, Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, and Suns dropping out of the $1 million club.
Category: NBA

Since: Aug 11, 2006
Posted on: December 27, 2009 10:52 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

The NBA is, by far, the worst of the big 4 major sports leagues in the United States.  It is the only league that actually has a built-in competitive disadvantage for 2/3 of its franchises.  Ricky Rubio won't play in Minnesota because it's, "too cold" and, as a destination, doesn't offer enough avenues for him to market his "brand."  Minnesota, therefore, is at a disadvantage even if it had the cash to sign a guy like Rubio.  Kevin Garnett was an abberation because he is a native of Chicago and was acclimated to the midwestern climate.  Similar tales of plight can easily be waged for Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Atlanta, Golden State, Toronto, Washington, New Jersey, etc.  The draft is where struggling franchises are supposed to re-stock their organization with talent.  It works well in other sports, but in the NBA, it often misfires.  The Draft Lottery is absurd, but that's a different argument.  What happens when a team like Minnesota, who drafts Rubio in an effort to revitalize its franchise, is given the cold shoulder by that player? 

The NBA is a league defined wholly by its superstars.  Teams with superstars are the only teams that have a prayer of winning a championship.  Superstars only want to play in the most ideal markets (usually either on the coast somwhere, or somewhere that doesn't have snow).  This is why only 9 teams have won the NBA Finals over the past 30 years.  For those of you who think baseball is a league of haves and have nots, keep in mind that 9 different MLB teams have won the World Series just since 2000!

One of the ironies here is that the NHL, for a long time, tried in vain to compete with the NBA.  In 2004, after it became obvious that this was a fruitless endeavor, the NHL owners made the difficult yet necessary decision of enforcing a lock out.  That lock out was costly to the NHL, but what it did do was shrink the business model of the league to a point where it could actually succeed financially.  By lowering the salary caps and ticket prices, the NHL is now doing pretty well for itself.  It's attendance is significantly better than the NBA and almost all of its teams (except Phoenix) make money. The only drawback, thus far, being the bad TV deal with Versus.  But I have a feeling the NHL will be back on ESPN before too long (especially now that college basketball's popularity continues to dwindle.  ESPN would love to allocate some winter hours to the NHL.).

Since: Nov 28, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2009 10:54 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Toronto? The Raptors are one of the healthiest franchises outside of the big boys. Top ten in attendance every year. Great, updated again this year, stadium. Good, if not greedy, ownership. If they ever put a winning team on the court, we would probably hit the top 4 in revenue and might become # 1 in attendance.

If you want some useless teams to drop, why not start with the Clippers. Why two teams in LA? They never draw a lick.

Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: December 23, 2009 7:39 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Classic uneducated response below grouping Toronto in with OKC and Memphis.  Are you serious?  Really?  Other than New York, LA and Chicago Toronto is the 4th largest market in the league and doesn't show up in a single "at risk/losing money/attendance down" category.  Lose the anti-Canada stereotyping and stick to teams that are or aren't performing financially.  

Since: Mar 21, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2009 6:42 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

The revenue and ticket sales are down directly related to the type of product the NBA produces. This product lacks stars from accross the spectrum of ticket buyers. The product lacks style and technique. The game is dull and boring. There is no plan to improve the game so ticket sales will continue to slide. This will continue until some one decides that they need to change the style of play. LBJ can not carry the league.

This is only the beginning of the downturn. TV revenue will take a hit next. Welcome to the minor leagues NBA.

Since: Dec 11, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2009 6:00 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Hello Kobe hater!!!who cares if you don't love or don't root for him, the guy makes millions and has zillions fans in every continent. his shirt is the more sold in the US, Europe and Asia. the guy is an icon. He won everything, even a dunk contest. Without him team US would never have won the olympics
I don't understant why all this hate, what did he do to you. . . This is simply jealousy

Since: Dec 11, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2009 5:42 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Hello!!!!!!! Daaa!!!!! how about the  lakers, they were sold out in every game for the last 2 years. with over 19000 in attendance.
I don't see them mentioned a single time in this article. Did anybody read the last Forbes magasine issue on NBA franchises. if not, please do.

Since: Aug 15, 2007
Posted on: December 11, 2009 4:47 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

Great post except I feel that Kobe is probably now a slimebag who has learned to cover his tracks and keep his mouth shut. I can't and won't ever root for him.

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: December 11, 2009 4:42 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Jan 16, 2008
Posted on: December 11, 2009 4:32 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)


What do you mean by asking if Toronto should have a NBA team?
Look at Forbes' numbers. The Raptors are something like 11th in net worth in the NBA and are worth more than 28 different NHL teams. On top of that, attendance is always very high at games.
What's your rationale for saying that there shouldn't be an NBA team in Toronto?

Since: Dec 11, 2009
Posted on: December 11, 2009 1:50 pm

NBA ticket revenue slides 7.4 percent (UPDATE)

If you dont like the NBA then why do you care enough to post?  I love it when people look to just tell the world how much they hate something other people like.  To the article critics who said, all the article stated was common sense.  What did you want it to do?  Make you rethink your entire world view?  Its an article that gave specifics on attendance issues in the NBA - it is what it is and it delivered what it set out to.

But to the people who said, "See this evidence that the NBA used to be a good product and now its bad," you did some really selective reading.  Did you just read the first paragraph and miss this?
"All of our teams have been very responsive to the financial concerns of our fans," Bass said in a statement to "The majority of our teams have held or lowered ticket prices this season, and all have introduced a number of creative, family-friendly ticket options in response to the financial difficulties our fans are facing. The response has been extremely positive as attendance is off slightly from last year, which was our third highest attendance in history."

Last year was the third highest attendance in history.  So the dramatically declining NBA product got that much worse since last year?  That dosent even make sense.  Neither does the argument about talent dilution since no NEW teams were added since last year. 

I am neither defending the NBA nor Stern.  They are an entertainment business and their objective is to make profits - thats fine.  I am also not suggesting that the NBA is a better product now than before.  It is different than before but I dont know if the quality of play is worse.  Certainly the futility of the current bad teams like NJ has surpassed historical records of being bad but not by a lot of games - 2 I believe.

Aside from the overall economy, there could be a lot of reasons why NBA attendnace is down.  For example, attendance seems to be tied to how good a team is so if more teams are bad in large NBA markets like the philly and detriot, then overall attnd could drop.  Regardless, the whole NBA is a poor product argument holds no water and people that think that should probably try reading the entire article.

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