The Golden State Warriors said recently that the team will be reducing season ticket prices for the 2010-11 season, and the announcement comes on the heels of another rough season for the franchise. The team currently has the third worst record in the league, and season ticket purchases and home attendance has dropped this season compared to last. Reports say fans aren’t confident in the ownership’s ability to set the team on track.
Season ticket prices will be reduced between 8 percent and 28 percent. Fans who respond by April 12 to what the team is calling the “Loyalty Pricing Program” offer will receive the discount.
Franchise president Robert Rowell told the San Jose Mercury News, “We know the economy’s been tough. We know the season’s been tough. When putting pricing together, we realized we needed to do something to address the fact that our fans have hung with us as long as they have.”
He went on to deny that the price reduction is a “panic move” or “desperate.”
Of the 34 home games played as of March 18, the Warriors have averaged 17,929 fans, 12th in the NBA in terms of home game attendance. Last season, they averaged 18,942 fans per game and ranked 9th in the league. The numbers translate to 91.5 percent capacity (the Philadelphia 76ers have the lowest home percentage of filled seats, at 67.4 percent).
Compare these numbers to the team’s 2007-08 season, when after ending the season with an appearance at the playoffs, the Warriors averaged 19,631 fans per game, sixth best in the NBA. The team sold out 32 of their 41 home games that season, compared with only four sellouts this year.
However, the Warriors are not unique, as attendance is dropping overall for the league. The NBA’s attendance report for games up until All Star Week (Feb. 14), showed average attendance for all teams to be 17,001; during the same period in 2008-09 attendance was 17,502. That report also showed that Detroit Pistons attendance figures were down 11.3 percent from last season, and teams like the Phoenix Suns and 76ers had attendance drops between 7 percent and 8 percent.
Yet popular teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers continue to perform well, pulling in 99 percent capacity. And despite the Portland Trail Blazers raising their season ticket prices for next year, that franchise says they’re about to meet the NBA’s goal of 90 percent renewals. The Trail Blazers have had 106 consecutive sellouts at the Rose Garden.
The difference in teams’ attendance figures points towards a disparity between the franchises, a fact that reinforces fans’ belief that it’s ownership—and not just the economy—that’s responsible for underwhelming team performances and sales. The disparity becomes more apparent as owners look to sell their teams. The New York Times recently reported that in this economy, weaker franchises often sell for less money and at a loss to their former owners.