Sixers tickets cost entirely too much.
The reason you're reading this particular article is because four years ago, I bought the Sixers 10-game plan. In 2010, the world turned upside down when LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed with the Miami Heat. When we found out they'd be in Philadelphia for the Sixers home opener, we decided that we had to go and see this new rock band of superstars live. We pretty quickly realized that the ticket prices would be outrageous for such a game, upwards of $60 a pop on the resale market, and that's for the cheapest ticket in the building. Fortunately, however, the Sixers offered the plan where you'd get the Heat game, and nine other top games, for $100 a ticket.
It was a no-brainer. We bought the plan, and by seeing the games top stars in person every few weeks, my love for the game was re-kindled. We bought the same plan the next year, choosing to buy better seats, and enjoyed every second of it. I recommended it to every Sixers fan I know.
Circumstances prevented me from re-upping the following two years, but this year, I looked forward to going back to the plan. It was, once again, a no-brainer. I knew it would be a little more expensive, because let's face it, that giant t-shirt cannon didn't buy itself.
What I didn't expect was a $275 price tag for the cheapest seat in the building. Unless the Sixers accept PavorskyBucks and O'Coinrolls (the official currency of Liberty Ballers), I'm out.
All in all, the Sixers still have one of the lower priced tickets in the league. According to a Team Marketing Report study, the Sixers had the 7th lowest average ticket price in the league, which is nice.
The reason for the increase on the partial plan is variable pricing, which has taken a foothold in the NBA in recent years, as a result of teams getting tired of selling a ticket for face value and watching it go up on Stubhub minutes afterwards at three times the price. The main culprit is the one visit to Philadelphia this season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which carries a single game price tag starting at $57, but the pricing also inflates the price of weekend games, among others.
Wednesday, David Aldridge caught wind of this and suggested a cut of the prices by 7.6%, which I'm actually kinda shocked Adam Aron didn't come up with first. Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer made a similar argument earlier this month.
This is a team that's built to be bad. They're improving, but they're still bad, and this year could very easily be worse than last year. I know it, you know it, and the Sixers know it. Why are they still charging major league prices for a clearly subpar product?
I'm a realist, and I don't expect them to just give tickets away, but a 170% increase on a partial-season ticket plan over four years, while the team has done nothing but decrease in quality in those four years is a little bit absurd on its face. Combine that with the sudden financial windfall that has suddenly hit the league, with franchise values soaring and the new TV deal printing money with Adam Silver's face on it, and it gets even more ridiculous.
I have no problem with this team making money. This is a business, and they should make their money when they can. This isn't a "get off my lawn" argument where I bemoan how the cost of sports is getting out of hand and how back in my day, you could get into the Spectrum for a nickel, or whatever. (I'm only 25, after all.)
It's really just a shame this team is going to play in front of a mostly empty building yet again. I realize that it'd be largely empty anyway, because they're bad, but just because you're a bad team doesn't mean you can't create positive impressions.
I've mentioned this before, but after I graduated college, I worked for an expansion indoor soccer team, doing pretty much everything except playing, and on a couple of occasions, I started to wonder if that was in the cards as well.
Week after week, I'd watch this team get absolutely crushed. They weren't good, and worse yet, they knew it. They played 20 games, and won one of them. Attendance was putrid. On a good day, 20% of the building would be filled.
Before, during, after every game, however, I'd have a lot of those people coming up to me telling me what a great time they were having. Even though the team was getting pasted, even though the building was nearly empty, they were still having a great time. Their kids, mostly young, didn't know any better. It was just a fun, affordable night out for the family.
That's what this Sixers team can be. "Together We Build" can begin this year in every aspect of the team, not just the on-court product. The Sixers could be THE affordable sports product in a market where nothing is affordable. Flyers and Eagles tickets are mostly a non-starter for families, and Phillies tickets have skyrocketed since their championship run. Even in a losing effort, this team can create new fans. They can't do that if it costs $100 a game to bring a family of four, and that's to sit in the last row of a 20,000 seat arena.
This organization has shown an admirable willingness to take a step back on the court to get where they want to go, but that step back hasn't quite translated to the box office, and it should.