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Average NBA ticket passes $50, up 3.5% from year before

Feb 14, 2013, 11:36 AM EST

Grizzlies arena Getty Images

It’s expensive to go to an NBA game.

According to an annual report published at ESPN, the cost of the average NBA ticket is $50.99, up 3.5 percent from the year before. That is still less than the average NFL ticket ($78, and those stadiums are much larger) and the NHL ($61), but less than MLB.

But if you take your family and need four tickets, plus parking, plus hot dogs and a soda… it adds up fast.

Say it’s expensive to attend a game and the league office will tell you how every team is required to have some $10 seats set aside for every game — and they do. Teams league wide also do a good job of working with local youth groups to help get schools and Boy Scout troupes in at a reduced price.

They just balance that out with luxury boxes and expensive courtside seats. Make no mistake — that is what drives gate and arena revenue. The casual fan who pays to sit way up at the top of the arena is a shrinking part of the economic reality for teams. Not that teams ignore or don’t care about those fans, they do, but that’s not what drives the economic model anymore. And we all know teams follow the money.

Really, if you want to attend a game at an affordable price, the way to do it is the secondary ticket market (like Stubhub). You can literally get tickets to games for under $1 — not the big games, you’re not going to Heat vs. Thunder for that price, but if you just want in an NBA arena at an affordable price, the tickets are there.

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