How long can Pacers afford steep ticket discounts?

December 8, 2011
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The Indiana Pacers sales staff is coming out of the gate firing this season.

For the team’s home opener on Dec. 26, the Pacers are offering tickets for $5.

As some of The Score’s Twitter followers pointed out, that’s cheaper than a minor league baseball or high school basketball game.

The Pacers are offering good seats for $15 and really good, lower level seats for $40 for the home opener against Detroit.

With the fans still smarting from the lockout it’s a smart move. Fans have to know they’re appreciated. The fans also have to know that part of what the NBA owners are saving (a combined $280 million annually) with the new collective bargaining agreement is going to go to them.

But many sports economists doubt whether the new agreement governing NBA player salaries will result in long-term ticket price reductions, especially in small markets like Indianapolis.

The poorest NBA teams are losing $17 million—or more—annually.

Once you take the $280 million and spread it over 30 teams, teams like the Pacers aren’t going to get all their annual losses back.

The owners are supposed to sit down in the next few weeks to hash out a more generous revenue sharing plan.

But league insiders said the likely best scenario for a team like the Pacers is bringing them near break even while allowing them a slightly better chance to compete against large market teams for star free agents.

“Though this deal is viewed as a win for owners, many of them didn’t get what they wanted,” said Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based sports business consultancy SportsCorp Ltd, which counts several NBA teams as clients. “Teams like the Pacers may have barely got what they needed.

“This deal may help [the Pacers] be more competitive and financially sustainable, but only with excellent management. These owners wanted a 7 percent to 8 percent operating margin. With this new deal, the best case scenario is break even.”

As the Pacers have worked to rebuild their roster into a playoff contender, the team’s sales staff has been among the league’s most aggressive in promotions and price discounts. But as the team starts to play better, those steep ticket discounts will likely evaporate.

“Long-term ticket price reductions is a fairy tale, but I think NBA owners realize they have to show fans some appreciation for bearing with them through the lockout,” said Notre Dame sports economist Richard Sheehan.

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  • How long? just until the big trade
    I think the preseason and Opening night game was a good promotion for the Pacers to open with a bang and get Pacer AND NBA season off to a big start.

    Once Pacers get back on everyone's radar that this team has talent and the addition of George Hill, that this team will be a good team to watch.

    Then once the big trade goes thru.... all that momentum in a short season should negate any reason to discount more. (What big trade? who knows - but there probably will be one)

    And with only 66 games, the Pacers will probably never get too far out of playoff contention.

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  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

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  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

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