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Lakers set new ticket premium

September 17, 2008|Greg Johnson | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers on Tuesday unveiled a ticket premium that will add as much as $55 to the cost of an admission to seven home games during the 2008-09 season against such top-flight competitors as the Celtics, Cavaliers and Mavericks.

The premium to be levied on individual Lakers tickets will range from $10 on a $35 seat to $55 for a $260 seat and be in effect for home games against Boston (Dec. 25), Cleveland (Jan. 19), San Antonio (Jan. 25), New Orleans (Feb. 20), Phoenix (Feb. 26), Dallas (March 15) and Houston (April 3).

The premium comes on the heels of an overall price increase of about 5.5% that the Lakers announced for individual game tickets following the 2008 NBA Finals. That price hike marked the third consecutive postseason increaseby the Lakers.

Season-ticket holders, who account for about 13,600 of the 15,000 seats that the Lakers make available during home games at Staples Center, won't be subject to the premium. The Lakers also won't charge more for the select games for about 600 seats in the upper-level bowl that continue to be sold at a league-mandated $10. (Staples Center controls about 4,000 seats in premier sections and luxury suites that have a separate pricing system.)

The premium will be assessed on "roughly 900 to 1,000 tickets at the seven games," said Tim Harris, the Lakers' senior vice president of business operations. The added revenue generated by the big-game ticket premium, along with the season ticket increase, will be used "to offset our increasing payroll costs," he said.

Ticket premiums are increasingly common in professional sports as franchises and leagues scramble to create additional revenue. The premiums are calculated in part by the pricing of tickets that are resold online.

The Clippers, for example, don't charge a set premium for big games but do allow individual ticket prices to rise or fall as game time approaches. "Let's say a visiting team trades for a big player, or someone breaks his ankle," said Carl Lahr, the Clippers' vice president of sales. "We have the ability to raise or lower prices based upon market demand."

The Dodgers have not adopted a premium for big games, but the Angels levied a premium on tickets for 14 home games this season, including opening day, a July 4 game, three-game homestands against the Dodgers and Red Sox, and six home games against the New York Yankees. The premium added up to $10 to the price of a single-game ticket -- but, as is the case with the Lakers, isn't being assessed against season-ticket holders.

Flexible pricing based upon perceived demand is a "good idea" for sports franchises, said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College. "Any economist who thinks otherwise will lose her license. The only trick is to introduce the flex pricing gradually, so as not to alienate the fan base."

The nation's unsettled economic picture hasn't dulled demand for Lakers tickets, Harris said. Despite a price hike, more than 99% of season-ticket holders have renewed their packages for the upcoming season. Fans who want to add their name to a waiting list must put down a $100 deposit for each requested seat.

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greg.johnson@latimes.com

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