The big market duo rank as the top two teams for ticket sales on StubHub, and one of them is featured in each of the nine most in-demand games for the season. The Knicks’ home contest against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 20 is the league’s hottest ticket.
There has been a 65% spike across the board with NBA ticket sales on the resale platform, driven largely by the four teams in the New York and Los Angeles markets. Sales for the Knicks, through Oct. 7, have nearly tripled from this time a year ago. Much of the year-over-year increase results from reduced COVID-19 restrictions, which impacted sales last year ahead of the season, when some fans were still apprehensive about large gatherings.
“New York and Los Angeles had among the most COVID restrictions, and I think there’s a lot of excitement to watch basketball in person again from the get-go,” Adam Budelli, a StubHub business development executive, said in a phone interview. The teams in the two biggest metros are driving nearly 40% of league-wide ticket sales on StubHub, and Budelli calls these games “bucket-list events.”
The Knicks’ ascent bumped the Lakers from the top spot as StubHub’s bestselling team, which L.A. had held since LeBron James joined the purple-and-gold in 2018. There is a huge dropoff after the Lakers, as sales for their games are nearly 70% higher than the third-ranked Toronto Raptors.
The Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics rank fourth and fifth for ticket sales, based on gross dollar volume. It has been an eventful preseason for the 2022 NBA Finals opponents. Last month, the Celtics suspended coach Ime Udoka for the entire season for violations of the team’s workplace guidelines involving intimate relationships. The Warriors are facing fallout after Draymond Green punched teammate Jordan Poole during practice last week.
The Lakers continue to drive the largest increase in ticket prices when they are on the road, compared to typical home game pricing, just nudging out the Warriors. The Celtics, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns round out the top five teams driving higher prices on the road. Budelli says those road-game sales are player driven and based on the opportunity to see a LeBron or Stephen Curry.
Cleveland fans are excited about new acquisition Donovan Mitchell, who was traded to the Cavaliers last month from Utah. Cavs ticket sales on StubHub are up seven-fold (653%), compared to those ahead of the 2021-22 season in Cleveland, albeit off a small base. Games for the Warriors (437%), Houston Rockets (272%), Mavericks (257%) and Raptors (226%) also had significant increases in demand.
“What Cleveland has done with their roster shows that they are kind of pushing their chips in,” Budelli said. “And there’s a lot of excitement for some of the young talent mixed with some of the newcomers.”
The 2022-23 NBA season will tip off Oct. 18 with a doubleheader on TNT, featuring the Philadelphia 76ers at Boston followed by the Lakers at Golden State.