The NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are not yet complete (Boston leads 3-2 heading into Game 6 tomorrow night, June 15), but already the league reportedly is bullish on prospects for next season.
Season ticket sales for 2010-11 are up 5 percent compared to this time last season, according to Sports Business Journal, which comes as a welcomed relief to teams after ticket sales slid a bit this past season.
Playoff ticket sales were solid over the past two months, not only driven by the excitement generated by the usual top tier teams, such as the Lakers, Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns and Orlando Magic, but also by teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder, which made the playoffs for the first time since the team moved from Seattle.
However, regular season ticket sales dropped slightly this past season, as the effects of the weak economy took a toll. By mid-season, the league knew its sales were already off by a few percentage points, dragged down by poor attendance at Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves games.
For the 2010-11 season, ticket sales have picked up not only because the Celtics/Lakers final has been compelling – the two teams have a storied rivalry – but also because the economy is experiencing glimmers of hope.
“We are significantly ahead of last year. Driving it is the improved economy, improved performance on the floor and fresh excitement for a lot of clubs who are looking at the potential to acquire star players through free agency,” NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver told Sports Business Journal. The league’s season ticket renewal rate is up to 80 percent for next season, an increase over this past season’s rate of 75 percent.
Leading the way on the player front is the Cavaliers’ LeBron James, who will become a free agent on July 1. While he stands a good chance of re-signing with Cleveland (under the league’s collective bargaining agreement they can offer him the most money), several teams are considered possibilities, including the New York Knicks, which have increased its marketing efforts in recent weeks in part due to the buzz surrounding the possibility of James signing with the team.