Where’s the cheapest place to see a game?

Ticket pricing for most of the NBA’s teams makes attendance at basketball games affordable. On Saturday, I made my first (of hopefully many) visits to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. I was blown away! In addition to all the typical things arenas have (food stands, merch vendors, etc.) there was a full sized basketball court that I assumed was for the fans’ use below the main concourse. While the Nets took on the Cleveland Cavaliers I wasn’t just watching the game, I also took the opportunity, to look at the people occupying those new seats. At first glance, it appears, there’s a wide income disparity between those inside the arena and the people who live nearby in Brooklyn. According to the 2010 US Census, the average household income in Brooklyn is $32,135, compared to $121,549 in Manhattan. That sparked a question in my mind regarding affordability for basketball overall: Where is the most affordable city to watch a basketball game?

I looked look at each team’s lowest listed ticket prices, as displayed on their websites. I’ve ranked the teams by from lowest to highest prices. So it appears that someone who lives in Cleveland can get to a basketball game for about $8. For 18 of the teams, someone can get to a game for less than $20. Even though they’re ‘nosebleed’ seats, a fan can see a game for $23.

Cleveland Cavaliers $8
Golden State Warriors $10
Orlando Magic $10
Philadelphia 76ers $10
Phoenix Suns $10
Portland Trail Blazers $10
Dallas Mavericks $11
Denver Nuggets $13
San Antonio Spurs $13
Utah Jazz $13
Atlanta Hawks $14
Detroit Pistons $14
Washington Wizards $14
Houston Rockets $15
Milwaukee Bucks $15
New Orleans Hornets $15
Charlotte Bobcats $16
Indiana Pacers $18
Toronto Raptors $20
Los Angeles Clippers $22
Minnesota Timberwolves $22
Brooklyn Nets $23
Sacramento Kings $23
Memphis Grizzlies $25
Boston Celtics $35
Miami Heat $36
Oklahoma City Thunder $42
Chicago Bulls $44
New York Knicks $55
Los Angeles Lakers $85

Of course these prices will vary by game, based on strength of matchup. For example, the same ticket would cost less for a Nets matchup against the Timberwolves than it would for a matchup against the Knicks. That’s because the matchup against the Knicks would be a nationally televised, primetime matchup.

Overall, getting people into those seats for little more than they would spend on a movie is a smart way of getting more interest and participation into the sport. Yes, anyone can watch a game on television but giving a broader group of people access to the venue, and a chance to see a game in person changes your perspective.

I hope that the Nets will continue to find ways to make access to the Barclays Center affordable.


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