The NBA’s financial stability relies on a steady stream of gate receipts, billion dollar broadcast deals, and a collective bargaining agreement that controls spending on players. Gate receipts account for just a third of the NBA’s total revenue, but they are the lifeblood revenue stream for individual teams. A league-wide revenue report obtained by Ken Berger at CBSSports.com revealed that fifteen teams suffered declines in gate receipts last season, which is why some clubs have been forced to think outside the box to lure fans with creative ticket packages. Yet despite the struggling economy, the Lakers continue to regularly sell out the Staples Center at outrageous prices. Brian Kamenetzky at the Los Angeles Times writes:
The first thing visitors see upon visiting LAL’s season ticket page at Lakers.com is information on how to join the wait list. While it’s not quite as hopeless as Green Bay, where fans added today might expect to enter Lambeau as an STH in about 2039, should you find yourself near the tail of LA’s 3K-plus strong Rolodex of would-be Staples regulars, it’s probably best to bring a magazine or two to pass the time. Two years ago, coming off their loss in the Finals to Boston, the Lakers renewed at a 99% clip. Last year, thanks to the economy, that figure plunged to 98%. Freedom for about 50 people on the 3K-plus strong waiting list.
“We’re very aware of how lucky we are,” says Veronica Lawlor, Director of Ticket Sales and Operations. Talking to her Wednesday afternoon, Lawlor told me that the most recent figures she’d seen has the leaguewide renewal rate “in the neighborhood of the high seventies, low eighties.” That makes for a unique setup down in El Segundo. “We don’t have a ticket sales department for our season ticket sales, we have a customer service department,” Lawlor says.
Demand is so strong that the Lakers don’t need to offer partial ticket packages, something virtually every team in the league does (the LAC, for example, have myriad options). The benefits for the Lakers are clear. Season and group sales mean about 95% of Staples Center is accounted for before the year begins. The other 5% goes fast. They know they’ll sell out every home game before the playoffs, making income from tickets and all the things that come with strong attendance (concession sales, parking, and so on) wholly predictable.