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Post: Raising ticket prices 50%+, Brooklyn Nets have seen slump in season tickets. Single-ticket sales solid. Last year's paid tickets 15.9% off reported attendance.

Brooklyn Nets ‘dead last’ in NBA season tickets sales as prices soar: sources, the New York Post reported yesterday, and though it was framed as bad news, it deserves some context and caveats. 

The bottom line, though, is that the bottom line rules #TheBrooklynWay. After all, the Nets, a "sports entertainment corporation" (to use subsidy skeptic Bettina Damiani's piquant phrase), are still looking to hire a Senior Pricing Analyst, to "monitor and price inventory with a focus on revenue optimization."

For this year, the Post's unnamed sources report, the Nets have sold some 5,500 season tickets, versus between 8,000 and 9,000 last year at the Barclays Center. That means the Nets are last in the league, and have to fill more than 12,200 seats as single sales--which in the first home games they have done.

As Evan Roberts of WFAN commented on Twitter, "Not doubting this, but Ive noticed the secondary market is hotter than I’ve ever seen as a Nets season ticket holder."

The announced capacity is 17,732, though for playoff games they've sold standing-room only seats.

From the Post:
The Nets declined comment. A source close to the team didn’t dispute the league-worst season ticket figures but said the club relies less on those sales to fill the Barclays Center than teams in other markets.
That may well be so, given the arena's accessibility, including to tourists in New York City who are less price-sensitive than locals. (And the Nets are still cheaper than the New York Knicks, at Madison Square Garden.) The Post noted that the Nets still make decent money from both season tickets, given high prices, and single ticket sales.

Despite the Nets' up-and-down season last year, with star Kyrie Irving missing most games due to his refusal to get vaccinated and third star James Harden engineering a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, the team--according to the Post--raised season ticket prices for this year before the Nets lost in the first playoff round to the Boston Celtics.

Beyond price, some long-time fans understandably are wary of a team with a roller-coaster roster and--at least during the summer--the prospect of losing both Irving and fellow star Kevin Durant, both of whom ultimately stayed with the team, at least for this year.

Previous season-ticket claims

While the Nets can claim they rely less on season-ticket sales than others, if they had an increase, they'd be crowing about it. 

Remember how, before their debut season in September 2012, the Nets announced that they'd sold more than 10,000 season tickets?

That was perhaps understandable, given the novelty of the team and the opportunity for a bargain compared to the Knicks, especially the “All Access” season tickets, starting at $99/seat, including unlimited food. (That didn't last.)

That said, the Nets then were not just a new team and a bargain, they weren't fielding a contender--as they now aim to be (though most analysts disagree).


From the Post yesterday:
The Nets have chased away many loyal fans after jacking up prices on some seats by more than 50% for the team’s 41 home games at Barclays Center, multiple sources told The Post.

That's a lot. One source for the Post said "the $3,500 per ticket he had been paying in his three-year expiring contract skyrocketed to $5,400, a 54% jump." 

Then again, that also means there had been no increases for two years, so maybe it could be framed as an 18% annual jump.

For others, it seems like an annual leap. As noted in May 2021, a long-term season-ticket holder reported, in a comment on NetsDaily:

Never asked for a discount when the team sucked. Renewed each and every year the whole way through, even before they got KD. Renewal pricing just came back at 2-3x last year
So some fans, as this Twitter commenter suggested, are being more strategic: "Honestly was looking to do a 10 game plan in upper deck it was like $1.2K for last row per seat. Rather just go to 5 games and buy 2 tix at $50-70 each. That’s a crap ton of savings"

That said, you can't get single-game tickets at $70 for certain opponents, so maybe paying $120/ticket makes sense for some--or so the Nets calculated. 

Last year's fudging

From the Post: 

Last season, single-game sales buttressed the season ticket total to help the Nets finish 10th in average paid attendance, according to NBA confidential financials obtained by The Post — not far behind crosstown rival Knicks. The Nets drew 14,919 per game, a 26.3% spike from the previous non-pandemic year, generating $2.15 million in average net gate receipts, a 108.5% increase year-over-year, according to the data.
There's s mini scoop hidden in that information. The Nets reported home attendance of 17,734, which translates to 97.9% of capacity. The paid figure is 15.9% less than claimed.

Yes, NBA teams report tickets distributed, not paid attendance or gate count. I suspect paid attendance is less than gate count--if the team is a draw, freebies (perks for sponsors? tickets for community allies) lead to more gate count than paid attendance. 

That said, it could be that not all "paid attendance" turns into gate count, if people don't use tickets they paid for. But gate count is typically a good deal less than reported attendance, which includes freebies.

(Updated) Last year, jersey sponsor Webull donated 8,000 tickets over the first eight Nets games, and this year, they're doing so as well, according to a 10/18/22 press release
Webull will donate thousands of tickets to Nets and Liberty games during the upcoming NBA and WNBA seasons, with tickets being used by various nonprofit organizations and community groups from New York City. This donation will ensure that underserved residents are a part of both teams’ highly anticipated seasons.
Note that in their 2012-13 debut season, the numbers were similar, at least if we treat gate count as a rough proxy. While gate count, including the playoffs, averaged 14,974, reported attendance was 17,187, or 12.9% less than claimed.

Last year's increase came first

As the Post reported last May, the Nets, with Durant and Irving, have been aggressively raising prices, more than doubling their average game revenues, with a 109% gain, attributed to a 66% increase in average ticket prices last year, reaching $144.

Still, the Nets have lost big money, given the luxury tax imposed on payrolls--the Nets have the league's third largest.

Moreover, the Barclays Center, hurt by the slow revival of the live-event business, has also lost big, forcing billionaire Joe Tsai, who owns the team and the arena operating company, to kick in tens of millions of dollars to ensure construction bonds are paid off.

Other comments

In comments on the Post article, one reader cited concerns about getting to the arena, given "insane" traffic and dangers on the subways.

Another said that there are empty seats at baseball and football games, and the opportunity to watch on a large-screen at home was an alternative.

On NetsDaily, one said, "Hard to plunk down that type of investment when you see how fickle the players are. KD's (non) leadership and entitlement really hurt the franchise.The message he sent was, at any moment 'this whole thing could implode if I don't get my way'. Getting that message leaked and wanting Nash and Marks fired said everything we needed to know about KD."

One season-ticket holder, more optimistically, noted that he'd sold his tickets for the first two games "for face or close to it," and the results show that a "compelling product" will draw fans.

Another said that, for opening night, "Upper level sideline seats in section 225 row 11 were $75 all in after fees on vivid. I think that's actually less than face value."

Another wrote, of that first game, "I paid $86 for section 231 on Seatgeek to see Zion [Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans]. The seats were worse than I thought from the pictures. Extremely cramped- (guy next to me could not fit in the seat). Staff was a bit rude. Halftime "singer" was awful. No one applauded."

Another (unusually, but not surprising to me), noted, "Additionally a large segment of people are still fearful of COVID." Watching crowds gather for the first game, I saw no masks.

Another noted, "My ticket prices didn’t actually go up much this spring, it was the prior year where I really got hammered." In other words, the pricing can be dynamic.

On Twitter, one said he "got far better seats for the same price on opening night" by buying for a single game than a season ticket.

Another suggested perspective: "Prices have gone up but still considerably cheaper option than MSG."

But people don't have unlimited funds--especially (I suspect) when their investments don't keep up with inflation. 

Commented one Nets expert: "You aren't wrong, but most fans I've spoken to had season tix since the team was in NJ. They didn't really care about on-court production. They just couldn't afford it this year."