Friday, October 24, 2008

First-Game Premium

It is about that time to get organized and figure out what NBA games I’m planning to go to over the course of the season. In my case, it is a bit complicated – my main basketball friend has a Mon-Thurs constraint: he can only watch games four days of the week. Unfortunately, he spends the rest of his week in NYC and they don’t seem to have any NBA teams there anymore.

Checking out some of the online ticket sites, I notice an interesting pattern: the first-game premium. How much would you be willing to pay to watch the first home game vs. the second home game of the season?

Let’s take the Celtics. If we try for mid-level seats at the Garden, one ticket is about $200. Compare that with the second home game, a mere 3 days later. A comparable ticket is about $70. Would you be willing to pay an extra $130 to watch the first home game?

Now of course you may think that these two games are not the same. The opponents are different, the day of the week is different, and so on. In the Celtics case, the first game is with the Cavs, while the second game is with the Bulls. So it is fair to assume that most people would pay more to watch the Cavs. But the first home game is on a Tuesday, and the second game is on a Friday. So this goes the other way – probably more people want to watch on Friday. Perhaps the different team can account for the $130 spread, but I doubt it.

The Celtics may be a special case as winners of the NBA Finals. Maybe a lot of fans want to relive the NBA championship. But then again, I remember that Game 6 was in Boston and it was after all the biggest margin of victory in any finals clincher.

So let’s take a look at some other teams.

Lakers: Mid Levels running about $140 for Game 1 (Portland) vs. about $75 for home Game 2 (Clippers).

Pistons: Lower Level Baseline running about $55 for home Game 1 (Indiana) vs. about $35 for home Game 2 (Washington)

Bulls: Lower Level Baseline running about $100 for home Game 1 (Bucks) vs. about $80 for home Game 2 (Grizzlies)

Raptors: Endzone seats about $85 for home Game 1 (Warriors) vs. about $150 for home Game 2 (Pistons)

This last case shows something interesting – at some point, the team has to matter. In any case, I’ve decided to skip on LeBron and check out Bosh/O’Neal when they play the Celtics on 11/10.

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