Can Basketball Fans Score Bargains During the NBA Lockout?

After the strife-torn NBA cancelled the first two weeks of the basketball season, DailyFinance wondered: Would this mean any financial relief for fans? We hoped that somewhere in the war between the millionaires who play and the billionaires who pay, there might be some net gains for the ordinary people who spend money on NBA tickets, LeBron James jerseys and Kobe Bryant bobbleheads.

Naturally, merchandise came to mind. Basketball drives $2.8 billion in sneaker sales and $1.1 billion in apparel sales annually, according to a market study by the NPD Group. Certainly a league in the midst of angering fans with a lockout would court customer goodwill through markdowns, wouldn't it? But our research indicates that the ghost of Wilt Chamberlain has a better chance of showing up than discounts on NBA gear. We scoured websites and sporting goods stores in Manhattan, only to find business as usual.

NBA jerseys were selling for an average of $80, and one Adidas outlet in Manhattan was selling them for $90. Team hats at a Lids, where inventory was scant, were going for as high as $35. "I don't think lowering prices is an option because I don't think it'll do anything," says Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a public relations firm. "It will be seen as a cheap stunt."

But Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for NPD, forecasts that a prolonged delay or the cancellation of the season would translate into price breaks eventually. "With no games on television, basketball will be out of the collective consciousness of the average fan," explains Maury Brown of the BizofBasketball.com.

DailyFinance reached out to NBA marketing executives through a few channels Tuesday, and did not hear back. A visit Tuesday to the league's temporary flagship store on Fifth Avenue didn't produce answers either. It wasn't open yet. Beyond the storefront was a skeletal space with construction workers milling about. One of the hardhats said the store should be open in a week. Two NBA reps there directed DailyFinance to the executives we already had emailed.

Voting With Your Feet


The sneaker front didn't generate promising price-cut results either. Launches for the $160 Nike Air Jordan 14s and $110 Adidas adiZero Rose 2 hightops, worn by NBA MVP Derrick Rose, happened before the NBA had to ax a portion of its season. Both models avoided the bad publicity that could deflate initial sales. Certain shoe brands attract a devoted following under any circumstances, with shoppers waiting overnight to be the first to purchase them, said Jeff Lenchiner, editor of InsideHoops.com. "If you put out a product and it's selling out, it's not a crazy price."

Lawrence Norman, vice president of global basketball for Adidas, said the brand was confident that it would maintain sales momentum, in part through college and international basketball.

In the meantime, NBA fans can enjoy at least one huge savings -- on what they would have spent at the games. The Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index put an average night at an NBA arena for a family of four at around $500 for larger-market teams such as the Knicks and Lakers. The Lakers, whose average "nonpremium" tickets cost $95, were offering season ticket holders 5% interest on their full-season deposits as long as they allowed the team to keep the money through the play stoppage. The team would then apply the 5% profit to future games that are actually played -- this season or next.

Gary Romanik, a Lakers season ticket holder, opted instead to receive a refund plus 1% interest for every block of games canceled. He believes the season will not be salvaged. Asked if there was any way he could look on the bright side, the diehard NBA fan replied, "The only possible hope for me would be that instead of seeing my 10% annual increase in ticket prices, next year, they wouldn't have the gall to do it."

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14 Comments

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kenksct

GREED!!!! nba owners who own these teams as a hobby and to impress other fat cats, and low iq jocks who otherwise would likely be involved in the world of crime becuse they could'nt handle an honest job.what a combination! another example of a group who is not thankful for the pamperd lives they have.after all, it allowed one of they're "stars" to buy his way out of a rape conviction who would otherwise be locked up in a cage where he belongs,and others who have commited crimes that were made to quietly go away. try this:ABOLISH THE NBA!! don't think you'll see too many tears.as with other pro sports, if fans stp supporting these overpayed, overprivlidged would be losers , we would no longer be reading about the GREED of sports. jealous? maybe i am when someone can make millions playing a "boy's" sport.at least at the end of the day i know i have given an honest day's work for what i am paid."old school" ? could be, but i'm just thankful for what i have. i believe these people should be too!

October 13 2011 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Big John

$500 for a family of four??? I can get into my car and go down to the local outdoor basketball courts in my town and see the exact same style of basketball you do in the NBA. Cost, about $3 including gas and a coke.

October 13 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
daballofire

People, who spend money on watching men playing children's games, deserve to be fleeced by these con men who, most likely, would be in prison otherwise.

October 13 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to daballofire's comment
dabrownman

Well some are in prison but that isn't the point is it? The point is that that fools are easily separated from their money.

October 13 2011 at 11:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
greg

WHO CARES,EVERYBODY I KNOWS HATE BASKETBALL, WORST SPORT OF ALL.

October 13 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bateauxdriver

Over paid cry babies.

October 12 2011 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BIGEAD007

NBA Never Buying Anything again they can kiss my basketballs a bunch of over paid under achievers that contributed nothing to the city they do business in. I seen the new D Rose shoe and i wouldnt let a kid in afganistan wear them, looks cheap and not comfortable . Hate to say it but I will never watch the nba after what they are doing to there fans it will be good for hockey.

October 12 2011 at 10:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fpfininc

this strike is a very good example of why we need strong unions to help the workers .. some ignorant dummy suggested that the owners and players together donate the $ allocation, amount in question to inner city schools, as that source suggested that both the owners and players would probably be ok with what they still receive so that they could at least live a decent "middle class" life .. maybe they could take a tax deduction in case they don't have good accountants already so that they don't pay much in taxes.

October 12 2011 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vbr00

WHEN I HEAR A NEGATIVE COMMENT, THAT SHOWS ME THAT PERSON IS JEALOUS.

October 12 2011 at 6:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to vbr00's comment
Robert Leonetti

YOU HIT IT RIGHT ON THE HEAD.

October 14 2011 at 8:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Matthew Powell

I do not expect the NBA lockout to have a material impact on Basketball shoe sales. In 1999, basketball shoe sales were not hurt by the lockout. Kids still played Basketball and needed Footwear. Today, Basketball is a much smaller part of the mix in sneakers. Jordan (70+% share for the Year) is a much bigger piece of the Basketball pie than it was in 1999. Jordan hasn’t played since the last lockout, so there should be no major impact on sales there. The Player endorsed shoe market is much less important today than it was in 1999, so retailers and brands don’t have to count on an individual's highlights to drive sales. Television is much less important to selling sneakers today than it was in 1999. Sneaker sales are much more influenced by the web today. Brands get more exposure for products on YouTube than they do on Sports Center. I also think the brands will find creative ways to get exposure for their products through manufactured events. I expect that the trend in sales of Basketball shoes will remain the same as it has been all year, regardless of the lockout.

October 12 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
denjo4651

I will never spend another dime in the NBA. Fold up and start anew.

October 12 2011 at 3:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply