NBA games are fun to watch and attend. They can also be on the expensive side. The cost of going to games only goes up from year to year, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. Even so, not all prices are created equal. Tickets vary quite a bit across the league.
This guide explores that idea by breaking down how much fans pay to attend an NBA game in today’s world, as well as why there are so many differences between certain teams.
A Costly History
NBA tickets, like any consumer item, have gone through big shifts over time. Where going to a game once only cost a few dollars during the seventies and eighties, it now costs more than $50 for a low value team and a couple hundred for a more popular one.
Though money went a lot further a few decades ago, those shifts are still a big jump when calculating for aspects like inflation. That rapid move occurred during the late 80’s and early 90’s, when tickets jumped from affordable to quite a hefty investment.
That’s not to say games became unaffordable, it’s just that the average price went up dramatically during that time. The increasing popularity of basketball, along with the rise in media, led teams to raise their prices faster than they ever had before.
That trend is still alive today. Even if the jumps aren’t as quick or as drastic as they were a few decades ago, the baseline is still much higher. It only continues to rise as time goes on.
NBA ticket prices vary wildly, and, as mentioned, that’s due to a number of factors. The first is the team itself. Each organization sets its own prices. The more success a franchise has during a season, as well as how much prestige they have, the higher their prices will be.
Both the Pistons and Cavaliers, two franchises that are currently struggling quite a bit, sit at $102 a ticket. The Timberwolves fall even further than that all the way down to an average of $91. That’s still pretty high all things considered, but it’s much lower than the high end.
For the other end of the spectrum, the multi-time champion Warriors currently have the most expensive ticket prices in the NBA ($589), while the incredibly popular Lakers are also above $500. The Knicks are third on the list, coming in at $394.
Those are quite expensive tickets, but they make perfect sense considering that those three organizations are the biggest markets across the league. They demand high prices based on either their storied history, recent success, or a little bit of both.
Visitors and Location
The other major factor that affects individual ticket prices is the visiting team. A successful home team drives the price up, but those prices fluctuate depending on who they’re facing on any given night. Better teams and primetime matchups cost much more than worse opponents.
Big time marquee matchups between superstars and playoff games cost a lot more as well. As an example, last year’s Finals matchup between the Celtics and Lakers had an average price of almost $1000 a ticket. That shows how high prices can rise under the right circumstances.
Of course, where a person sits matters a lot too. There are several areas of an arena, and each one’s cost differentiates based on their proximity to, and their view of, the court.
Courtside seats are the most expensive, usually fetching multiple hundreds or thousands of dollars. From there, center court provides a great view and tends to be a few hundred for premium games or around $100 or $200 for smaller contests.
Lower level corner creates a great view, while behind the basket offers a unique view that’s still pretty close to the action. Once you move from the lower level, most stadiums have both middle level and upper level seats. In both cases, the closer seats cost more.
Upper level mid court seats, while still affordable, are going to be a few bucks more than upper level seats at the corners. The same is true for the middle level as well. A better view of the court is always going to be worth a bit more.
There is no one price for an NBA ticket. The amount someone pays for a seat changes depending on what state they’re in, what teams are playing, as well as what they want to sit. There are many factors at play, and they all add up to the final price.
When getting a ticket, if affordability is the main goal, always try to find off games or games against lesser opponents. If cost is no option, then center seats at any level or courtside tickets are the way to go. Even better if they’re for a big or important game.