Let’s get one thing straight: The NBA is not hurting like the rest of American business. How do I know? SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL reports today that the Golden State Warriors have sold 12,000 full season ticket packages for this season. And the Lakers, who lead the NBA with an average ticket price of $95 per game, had a season seat renewal rate of 99 percent.
(Cheerleaders are collateral activity I can handle)
That doesn’t mean though that times aren’t tougher around the league. I heard from several sources here in L.A. that the Clippers-Lakers season opener, which was a home game for the Clips, wasn’t sold out. And there are plenty of other teams struggling with declining attendance and an apathetic fan base.
One team, the Detroit Pistons, is getting proactive in an attempt to keep fans coming back to The Palace. Today’s the club traded for perennial All-Star Allen Iverson, which should do a lot to energize the fan base.
The other thing the Pistons have been doing to keep the fans awake and alive? Fake crowd noise.
The DC blog WE’RE OFF TO SEE THE WILLARDS reports while watching an early season telecast of Wizards-Pistons from Detroit:
During the first few minutes of the Wizards-Pistons game, Antonio Daniels was walking the ball up the court. The score was something like 6-3 and there was like 10 minutes left in the first quarter. The crowd was going crazy. I could barely hear the announcers.
It was the first week of the NBA season. Many fans see it as a meaningless game. Definitely a meaningless first quarter. I figured that there must have been something on the Jumbo Tron, like a Wizards Suck or some hot chick. But all the fans at the arena were sitting down, and looked to be casually watching this boring basketball action. Then it happened again. At another moment when a crowd shouldn’t be going crazy.
Finally the announcers brought it up that it was being played on the PA system. Are you kidding me? That may work at Colts games but not in the NBA. Are the Detroit fans really that awful? Probably not, I’m sure it wasn’t their idea. They need to complain. If they do that at Verizon, I will be pissed.
Great. There’s not already enough collateral activity going on at an NBA game without fake crowd noise. You have the music pumping, and the scoreboards encouraging inane cheers. T-shirts being Howitzered into the upper deck. And now this.
So is something like that a sign of desperation? Do you get the feeling the NBA thinks its base product might not be enough to compel the video game-generation of fans to pay attention?
The Pistons think piping in faux cheering is the way to get everyone excited in the building. For me, and probably a good many other fans, it’s the quickest way to get us to never come back.