NBA teams selling tickets at record pace

October, 22, 2012
10/22/12
3:18
PM ET
Los Angeles Clippers fansAndrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe NBA is selling more tickets than ever -- even the Clippers, a team that used to lag in fan support.
The NBA said Monday its ticket sales for the upcoming season are going at a record pace, thanks in part to its teams having sold more season tickets at this point than ever before.

"There's just great demand for our product right now," said Chris Granger, the executive vice president of team marketing and business operations for the league, whose job it is to oversee the best business practices among the NBA teams.

The good news comes off a streak of seven straight years in which the league has sold 90 percent of its tickets. Last year's average regular season crowd was 17,306 fans per game, up 1 percent from the 2010-11 season and the fifth-highest average overall.

"I think our teams are more sophisticated from a pricing standpoint," Granger said. "They are doing a better job making face-to-face contact with potential buyers and they've definitely been more analytic in their approach."

League officials say the teams that have had the greatest increase in season ticket sales, in no particular order, are the Brooklyn Nets, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Nets are understandable. Last year, they were last in the league in average attendance (13,961 fans per game) but this year,they move out of Newark, N.J., and into the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

"The Nets are beneficiaries of the rebirth of the Brooklyn borough as a cultural mecca," Granger said. "They've been very aggressive in getting out into the community and becoming a part of it."

The Bobcats, who finished 25th in the league in average attendance, have been fairly aggressive with their pricing this offseason.

A lower level seat a couple rows from the basket costs $57.50 a game on a season ticket basis. In "Cats 365," the Bobcats are also one of a few teams offering access to its season ticket holders outside the games.

"The way Charlotte and Philadelphia treat their season ticket holders, it's more like a membership that just happens to have 41 home games that come with it," Granger said. "There's social events, business and networking, and time with the players."

The season ticket increase in Philadelphia is quite impressive, considering the fact that last year the club, under new ownership, jumped more than 3,000 fans per game. Granger said it's even more impressive considering the previous ownership offered deep discounts, so fans were used to waiting for the next price reduction. Now, fans are playing full price for what has become a great product, he said.

The Clippers rise is also a feat, given that the Clippers were up about 1,500 fans a game last season after Chris Paul joined the team and partnered with Blake Griffin to create "Lob City."

"The Clippers are a team that invests a lot of money in its selling staff," Granger said. "They videotape sales calls and the more experiences sales people coach the younger guys, offering them real-time feedback. That has definitely fueled their momentum."

In an attempt to control the secondary market a bit more, the league this year became the first to debut a site -- NBATickets.com -- that sells tickets for the league's teams on a primary and resale basis.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter

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