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Original Issue

Real Deals of the NBA

WANT TO watch a playoff-bound NBA team for a dollar? No joke—such deals were offered by fans reselling tickets to recent Nuggets and Pistons home games. "The secondary market is almost like a five-and-dime store now," says Sean Pate, a spokesman for StubHub, the league's authorized online ticket reseller. The average price of an NBA ticket on StubHub this season is $6 cheaper (at $73) than it was last season as fans try to recoup a portion of their investment. In addition to tickets for a Knicks-Pistons game going for 99 cents, seats to see the Dwyane Wade--led Heat in Detroit could be had for $4 a pop. In Utah a family of four could have attended a recent Jazz game for less than $20. In Portland $145 floor seats routinely sell for less than half that amount on StubHub.

That's not the only indication of a depressed market. The NBA's official attendance (based on tickets sold, not people in the seats) is about even with last year's at this time, but many tickets have been deeply, and often creatively, discounted by the teams. The Pistons' 98.9% capacity has been nudged upward by Ladies' Night packages in which women get two upper-level tickets, $16 in concession coupons, two martini glasses and a meet and greet with a player such as Rodney Stuckey (below) all for $59. (Men get the same deal, but with pint glasses and a team dancer.) The Grizzlies hold International Nights at which prices can be cut by up to 30% when a visiting team has a foreign-born player. Several teams give free tickets to kids for attending a summer basketball clinic.

Then there are the Nets. Recent promotions have included heavily discounted tickets and a job fair for unemployed fans; a zero-interest, buy-now-pay-later ticket plan; the promise of a full refund to anyone who bought season tickets but then lost his or her job; and the Snowbird Ticket Exchange Plan in which fans trade their Nets tickets for seats at a Florida Panthers NHL game. That promotion has inspired hundreds of swaps, including 60 for a New Jersey Devils--Panthers game during a school vacation week last month. "We've got to be in touch with our fans," says Nets CEO Brett Yormark, whose twin brother, Michael, happens to be president of the Panthers. Despite the economy and a losing record, Nets attendance is down only 700 fans per game. The NBA: where amazing deals happen.

99 cents
Price that Nuggets and Pistons tickets recently sold for on StubHub.

Fans who swapped Nets tickets for NHL Florida Panthers seats, in a promotion sponsored by both teams.