By Nick Vasquez, Nov, 16, 2021
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports and as a result, they have one of the most passionate fanbases. However, many of their die-hard fans are unable to afford to see their beloved team play. As a college student and a life-long Laker fan, it’s sad to be priced out of many games.
According to owner Jeanie Buss, the Lakers operate like a family business, yet these huge ticket prices leave many of the Laker family excluded from watching the games in person.
According to ticketIQ, the average price for a Lakers ticket in 2021 is $562 and the cheapest ticket for opening night against Steph Curry and the Warriors was $163, but these numbers were calculated before Lebron James was injured in late October. For someone working a minimum wage job, that is about 11 hours of work just to sit in the nosebleed sections.
The most disheartening thing about ticket prices being so high is the fact that teams are resting their players much more consistently now, so it is impossible to even know who is going to play when buying tickets. This especially applies to this year’s Lakers team, as they are the oldest team in the league. For instance, on the morning of their game on Nov. 4 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team did not announce that James was sidelined until hours before the game.
Even with James out of the lineup due to injury, the cheapest price for a ticket for the Nov. 10 game against the Miami Heat was $40 according to Ticketmaster, but that is in the top deck where it is difficult for most to even know what is going on. The cheapest seats in the 200 level are $72 and floor level seats bottom out at $110.
This presents an issue because if the Lakers decide to sit one of their three stars- Lebron James, Anthony Davis, or Russell Westbrook- then the value of tickets drops dramatically and people do not have a chance to obtain value on their tickets if they decide to resell them.
This is not just a Lakers issue however, as ticket prices have been raised this season due to the money that teams lost from the absence of fans at games last season. For the other big ticket basketball team in California, the Golden State Warriors, the average ticket price this season is $562
The Dodgers fanbase is comparable to the Lakers yet visiting the Staples Center is much less affordable. However, Dodgers games are much more affordable which makes it even more frustrating for fans like me who are used to watching their favorite teams play in person.
One might assume Lakers tickets are so expensive because they play less games than the Dodgers and Staples Center can seat half as many fans as Dodger Stadium, but that is not the case. According to Statista, the Lakers made $104 million in their 2018-2019 season which was their last full season with fans in the stands. The Dodgers made $185 million in their last full season with fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means the Lakers made roughly $2.5 million per game while the Dodgers made $2.2 million per game.
That is just ticket sales alone. The Lakers made $434 million off of ticket sales, merchandise and jersey sales and other retail items. According to Forbes, the team’s estimated worth is $5.5 million, which is an increase from its estimated $4.6 million last year. Those numbers indicate that it would be fiscally reasonable for the Lakers to drop their ticket prices and still be one of the most profitable organizations in the league.
Lakers’ ticket prices need to drop in order to include fans of all classes, because the goal of the team should be to expand their fanbase. Younger generations of fans may turn to the other local team, the Clippers. For one, the team made its first Western Conference Finals last season this season. This season they are still a Western Conference powerhouse despite star Kawhi Leonard being out.
Couple this with the affordability of their games compared to the Lakers, I would be unsurprised by a shift in loyalty. The average price of a Clippers game this year is $242 about half the price of the average Laker ticket.
LA will always be a Lakers town for my generation and the generations before me, but due to the affordability of games, there is a path for the Clippers to take over the majority of fandom of children growing up right now. This is a disheartening proposition going forward and lowering ticket prices will ensure that families, regardless of their income, will be able to see an all-star team going forward.
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