New Tactics on Ticketing

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(from Sports Business Journal, April 15, 2013) There is an extreme gap between teams’ primary ticket markets and the secondary markets such as StubHub and Ticketmaster. This sort of gap is leading NBA teams, such as the Chicago Bulls, to rethink the way that they sell their tickets. “Ticket pricing is becoming more fluid and often changes daily based on supply and demand, along with other factors,” said Steve Schanwald, the Bulls’ Executive Vice President of Business Operations.

The difference is noticeable when there is a marquee matchup in the NBA, such was the case when the Chicago Bulls hosted the Miami Heat in a February matchup. A fan who needed to buy a ticket to that game would have found only a few seats available and all of those seats were single seats. The Bulls decided to do something different for that night’s game. The single seats the Bulls had left on their website were priced higher than most that were available on StubHub. The Bulls had reacted to the market and raised their bar. The lower level seats, originally listed at $290, were priced at $600 to $900. The seats in the upper deck, originally listed at $100, had been raised to $200. The Bulls had barely any seats available, but they made sure they got what the market would bear.

As the line between sale and resale has faded among consumers, many NBA teams have adjusted their tactics to better mirror the market. It’s easier to change the price of a ticket when you’ve never put a sticker on it in the first place. Steve Schanwald says, “It’s becoming similar to other industries such as airfares and hotel rooms. Consumers typically aren’t aware of the exact pricing until they make a specific inquiry. We’ve found that fans are becoming much more familiar and comfortable with this trend. And they often benefit because there’s much greater ticket availability and many more pricing options.”