You know how the story goes: Sports team that has been historically bad gets good, really good and the owners take advantage by raising ticket prices across the board.
Hello, Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors ended a 40-year championship drought last season to the glee of its ownership, a coalition of high-powered tech investors.
During the Warriors Western Conference finals matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who nearly upset the NBA’s newest most popular team, Farhad Majoo of The New York Times, a self-confessed Warriors bandwagon fan, dove into the franchise’s ticket-price explosion and the problems it could cause.
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Majoo found Warriors season-ticket holder Josh Williams. Williams recently moved to the Bay Area from Austin after selling his start-up company Gowalla to Facebook. Williams, who had Mavs season tickets when he lived in Texas, said he purchased Warriors season tickets in the upper corner of the arena for about $50 a game. They’re about to go up by about 40 percent next season, he told Majoo.
For the NBA Finals going on now, Williams’ seat rose to $400.
“One of the tensions that exists with the Warriors now is the owners seem to have a feeling that, ‘Oh, we bought this team, they got really good, but we do live in a market where there are people who are accustomed to paying ever-increasing prices for everything, so let’s raise the prices for our tickets,’” Williams told Majoo. “I do have a real concern that we might price out the quote-unquote real fans.”
It’s something Cuban never tried to do, and perhaps even doesn’t receive enough credit for not gouging the average fan who buys tickets in the upper bowl of American Airlines Center.
Just listen to Williams: “One year my season tickets cost $24 a ticket, and I got my renewal package and they had dropped the price to $14,” he told Majoo. “It turned out what Mark was doing was jacking up the price on the lower bowl, where he knew the purchases were corporations, and reducing the price on the real fans upstairs.”
Which is likely one very large reason why the Mavs have a sellout streak that’s longer than a Donald Trump fact-checker’s list (maybe Cuban could do something about that if he becomes Trump’s running mate).
Majoo emailed Cuban to verify his ticket-price strategy. Here’s what Cuban wrote back: “We have decreased prices across the board multiple times. The only tickets that have gone up marginally are our best seats. I don’t run the Mavs to maximize profits. We now make money. But it’s more important to me that fans can always afford to come to games.”
Not a bad strategy, and a fortunate one for Mavs fans, considering the alternative.