Will The Ticket Bubble Burst?

Ticket prices are out of control.  The average Celtics ticket price last year was in the $50-something range.   Since winning it all, the average price has jumped to $65.  Nowhere near the Lakers $89… or the Hornets $24 (source). 

And while the Celtics have generally been pretty good about their ticket prices… ticket prices at sporting events everywhere are ridiculous.  Now that the economy is swirling the drain, David Stern wants teams to watch themselves when they set their rates.  The Celtics say… they’re ok for now:

“I don’t think you can ignore it,” said Gotham of the nation’s economy woes during a recent telephone interview. “But I’m very happy we’re coming off the championship season because it will help us hold off economy hits. We don’t foresee anything right now.

“We have sold all our season tickets. Got sponsorship done. We don’t have single-game tickets available and they were gone right away when out.”

The question is… what will happen next year?  And what happens when the rich companies and executives can’t afford to buy out those luxury boxes?  We all know that regular fans have been priced out for quite some time.  We can’t really afford to go to many games anymore.  And when we go, it’s hard to get the really great seats.  Those all go to the suits. 

But the suits are a little strapped for cash nowadays.  And the suits are going to be strapped for a little while.  In fact, they’re not going to be “the suits” for much longer.  What will happen to the Celtics when they can’t fill the premium seats like they used to? 

For anyone who doubts that some sort of ticket price Armageddon isn’t coming, I advise you to remove your head from the sand.  EVERY bubble bursts.  The internet bubble.  The housing bubble.  Everything.  Whenever something grows exponentially and without explanation, it will INEVITABLY come back down to earth.

The prices people paid for tickets and luxury seating have been ridiculous.  Now that the funds are drying up, all teams… including the Celtics… will have to start thinking long and hard about how to fill buildings. 

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7 Responses

  1. John –

    No offense, I pretty much agree with you on everything, but you’re way off here. The Celtics have a waiting list for Season tickets that is a several year wait now. People will ALWAYS buy tickets.

    The well won’t dry up.

    The prices are high, but Not anywhere near the ridiculous MLB and NFL prices. And you don’t have to sit outside in the cold. There isn’t a bad seat in the house at the Garden.

    Best investment I ever made was buying my season tickets.

  2. No offense to any season ticket holder, but I could find 200 better ways to spend $5000 per year.

    Danno – do you go to every game? or do you sell off a bunch of tickets?

  3. Danno… maybe I didn’t make my point correctly. I’m really focusing on the luxury seats and boxes. What happens when they go away?

    You and I… we’ll always be interested in tickets. But I wouldn’t be shocked to see revenues drop as the big spenders back away from luxuries like sporting events.

  4. I go to every game I can. Last year I missed 2 games because I was out of the country. I didn’t sell a single game. I gave them to family/friends. I went to every playoff game.

    I have 2 3rd row balcony seats, the 22 game 1/2 season package.

    I don’t spend anywhere near $5,000. More like $1,600.

    Also – they let you pay it in monthly payments. I pay $160 something a month for 10 months. When I bought these seats, I’d figured I already end up spending that much permonth anyway on going out/dinner/movies/bars/useless crap I don’t remember spending my money on anyway, and I didn’t have Celtics Tickets to virtually every game to show for it.

    Last year I got to go to the Finals. It’s worth every penny.

    No offense chuck – but I kind of find it a bit hard to stomach knowing that one of the guys who runs the one of the most popular Celtics/NBA blogs around the net would find “better things to spend his money on” than Celtics tickets. I would think being a blog writer for a particular sports franchise, you’d be trying to get seats to as many games as possible.

    I honestly don’t get the feeling you’re really much of a Celtics fan at all, but more just some awful wannabe ESPN.com pundit, who thinks people will respect his opinion if he rams the point home about how he’s not a homer, and he’s “truly impartial”. John Tomase territory here. Biting the hand hat feeds with negativity.

    As far as the Luxury Boxes – there will always be rich people/corporations who use them for perks. Right now they aren’t all full. Not all of them are sold out and they haven’t been since they opened the new Garden. They are just too ridiculously expensive. But they aren’t the mainstream money source, and all they have to do is close and lock them when not in use, and it costs them nothing. I don’t really think it’s going to hurt the Celts much. If anything it’ll hurt Jeremy Jacobs and the Bruins, since they own the building and just rent it to the Celtics.

  5. I think there are several points missed here on both ends.

    Its silly to say that it cost them nothing to close up luxury boxes. Luxury boxes cost upwards up 6k before you get into food and drink. That would be like saying it would be no big deal to close off a section of the balcony. It all adds up. Ask George Steinbrenner if luxury boxes matter? Premium seating is the most lucrative revenue stream ticketing wise.

    As far as ticket prices go I think Celtics tickets are priced accordingly. If you run a business that supplies a product, as the Celtics do, the basic principle with price is for supply to equal demand. The Celtics are sold out of season tickets and have several thousand on the wait list. In addition, all individual game tickets were instantly sold on on the day on the onsale. If anything, from a business sense, this would indicate that the product is under priced.

    Perhaps the economy might dictate prices are too high down the road. There is no law to say the Celtics cant lower price in the future if it is needed.

    Keep in mind that in many cases, especially in New England, these high tickets prices also provide a superior product. The Red Sox and Patriots have the highest average ticket price in their respective leagues. They also have the most championships in their respective leagues this decade. It looks like The Celtics are poised to follow that route.

  6. When you break it down that way Danno, $160 per month for ten months for the 22 game package, it makes sense. For some reason, when I think of season tickets, I think of the entire package…and that gigantic price tag.

    Just because I don’t throw my money at the Celtics, doesn’t mean I’m not a fan. Going to a handful of games per year is fine with me.

  7. I hear you.

    And yeah – that was exactly how I looked at it too, before I got in. I didn’t even plan to get them. I had the sales guy cold calling me every year a few times a year, and I always bought tickets to 4-5 games, spread out.

    So then last year after they got Ray, I called him up and asked if they were going to have those 6-game plans like the previous years, and at the time, they didn’t, because tickets weren’t on sale yet.

    Come September, and he calls me up saying they have 12 game packs. But they were like $1,300 for 2 seats, and because they weren’t technically “season tickets”, but just a special package, I would have had to pay the whole deal in one payment. I didn’t have a spare $1,300 laying around. I had like $700, which is what I figured a 6 game pack would be for 2 seats.

    So then he tells me I can get the 21 game season package, pay it monthly, only had to put down $400, and I become a season ticket holder for as long as I like. I told him I’d check with the “Boss” (my wife) and get back to him, and to hold the seats for me.

    2 days later, they traded for KG.

    I immediately called him up and said “Do it”.

    A week later, all the season ticket packages were gone, and the “Club Green” waiting list was apparently a 2 year wait.

    I lucked out, big time. And now, I get great seats to every other game, and free Celtics swag: t-shirts, hats in the mail, 15% discount at the proshop, invites to practices and stuff.

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