According to current figures from ticket search engine FanSnap, the Heat have the top three selling games for the NBA’s opening week and holiday schedules. The third hottest matchup comes October 26 when they travel to NBA championship finalists the Boston Celtics as part of an opening day doubleheader. Coming in second is their Christmas Day game at the Los Angeles Lakers, and the best selling game so far is the Heat’s home opener on October 28 against the Orlando Magic.
The reason for all the excitement is, of course, superstar LeBron James, who recently left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Heat. If these early numbers are any indicator, the combination of James, Dwayne Wade and Toronto Raptors defector Chris Bosh seems to be creating an irresistible force which is drawing plenty of fans for both home and away games.
Lena Siegendorf, VP of Miami-area Premium Seats USA, says Heat ticket sales have been strong coming out of the gate this season. “We hold the most inventory for the Heat. For us, it’s been a great start for the season. Last year for [the Heat’s] A games, we were able to capture a nice premium. This season, we’ve been able to capture a similar premium for C level games.”
Despite the hubbub around the phenomenon that is LeBron James, NBA champions the Los Angeles Lakers are not left behind in sales this season. The Lakers are in four of FanSnap’s top six sellers, including three home games. On October 26, they take the second half of the opening day doubleheader, meeting the Houston Rockets and Yao Ming (newly off the injured list) at the Staples Center. On Christmas day they host the Heat, and a Martin Luther King Day game has them at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Their away game against the Phoenix Suns on October 29 also made the six highest sellers.
FanSnap’s current NBA team ticket sales rankings mirror the search engine’s hot game data: the Heat and the Lakers are the top two selling teams on the site right now, with average home game ticket prices of $450.18 and $393.73, respectively. Running a distant third are the Thunder (at $221.26), followed by the Portland Trail Blazers ($217.71) and the Chicago Bulls ($217.70).
While tickets are flying off the virtual shelves in the Miami area, halfway across the country it’s a different story. Max Waisvisz, founder and owner of Chicago’s Gold Coast tickets, is seeing a very quiet start to the NBA season. “You can’t even talk about sales because the schedule just came out. I haven’t sold one ticket for the NBA.”
When asked about hot teams this year other than the Heat or Lakers, Waisvisz replied, “That’s the only two that would be [strong sellers], one because of LeBron and the other because of Kobe.” Broadly speaking, Waisvisz calls NBA tickets “a hard sell” and notes that fans tend to wait to buy their tickets rather than jump in at the start of the season.
Leor Zahavi, founder and owner of Admit One, concurs. “I think it’s a little early to get a good gauge. Obviously you’ll see the traditional interest in the Lakers…we’re certainly not seeing anything that stands out other than the Heat and the Lakers.”
Christian Anderson, spokesperson for FanSnap, has data that largely agrees with Waisvisz’s and Zahavi’s assessments of the season as it looks right now. “It’s safe to say that the early favorites are the Heat and the Lakers,” notes Anderson, though he adds that this data is based on early numbers and the ticketing landscape is likely to change a great deal as the season approaches.