So much for fans being turned off the lockout. According to Hoopsworld’s Steve Kyler, the NBA nearly sold out all of its first 32 games.
According to the LA Times… NBA teams played to 99.2% of capacity over the first 32 games, up from 90.3% for the full 2010-11 season
The Pacers attendance is also up so far at the Fieldhouse, although not by that much.
There have only been two games played there and I’m sure both preseason ticket promotions and the excitement of opening night always mean that the first game or two of the year sees exceptionally large crowds. So take they improvement in fan interest with a grain of salt.
But according to ESPN, the Pacers have averaged 15,584 fans this season compared to last year’s 13,538 — which was the lowest attendance in the league. This larger number only puts them second to last, ahead of just the Pistons, who it should be noted have hosted Indiana for one of their home dates. (For the record, Indiana has also technically drawn more fans than the Sixers, but they haven’t had a home game yet so that’s probably why.)
Last season, ESPN considered 18,172 as “capacity” for Conseco so the Pacers were drawing 74.5% of capacity. There is no percent-of-capacity figure listed along with ESPN’s attendance numbers, but using last year’s baseline, the Pacers are up to 85.8% so far this season.
So … still struggling, but improving.
UPDATE: Being less lazy now, I tracked down the actual LA Times link. There is actually a Pacers mention even.
The NBA encouraged teams to make about 500 tickets per game available at $10 or less and [NBA executive vice president for team marketing and business operations Chris] Granger said about 1 million $10 tickets will be available over the course of the season. Each team was also required to submit to the league a “Back to Business” plan that included proposals catering to fans, and those ideas were shared.
In Atlanta, the Hawks operated a toll booth and paid tolls for drivers during the morning rush. In Minnesota, the Timberwolves staffed the drive-through window of a fast-food restaurant where they greeted fans, took orders and paid for meals.
The Pacers emphasized community ties by giving profits from a preseason game to the United Way of Central Indiana and donating 30,000 toys to children in central Indiana. The Philadelphia 76ers are creating a group called the 76ers Revolutionaries, asking fans to try out and giving the craziest a free season ticket in a 76-person section.
“There’s a whole bunch of things like that,” Granger said. “I think it speaks to our teams and their creativity and their commitment to engaging their fans in this Back to Business plan.”
They’ll need that creativity to keep drawing fans in many places as the season wears on. But at least there’s a season to follow, not marathon labor talks, and for that we can all be grateful.