Knicks, Lakers among worst NBA fan pocket deals in 2021-22; where does your team rank in value?

The two biggest teams in the NBA market this season were the worst pocket deals for fans who wanted to see a team compete for the playoffs and a title.

In the latest Fan Cost Index (FCI) which measures costs such as tickets and concessions for a family of four to attend a regular season game (details below), the New York Knicks retained their perch as the league’s most expensive team for the 12th straight season.

How much did it cost four to watch a game at Madison Square Garden and see the Knicks finish 37-45? A whopping $936.72 thanks to an average average non-premium ticket cost of $186.23. It’s a premium price on the Midtown Manhattan market, bing bong! Still, they averaged 18,621 fans per game this season, eighth-best in the NBA according to ESPN’s attendance tracker.

The Los Angeles Lakers ranked as the third most expensive FCI at $711.46. Just seasons away from their final NBA title, the Lakers may have been the worst deal for fans in 2021-22 after finishing 33-49 and failing to win a Play-In tournament bid after an injury-plagued season. and malfunction. And it was a season in which LeBron James averaged a career-high 30.3 points per game at age 37.

It can certainly be argued that seeing James play is worth the price of admission (and the beer, parking, etc.), but if the wait is winning and a run for another title, this season has been a disappointment. At the new Arena, the Lakers averaged 18,649 fans per game this season, one spot ahead of the Knicks.

Between the Knicks and Lakers are the Golden State Warriors at $740.08. It’s not cheap, but the Bay Area is another expensive market and the team, which finished 53-29, are in the Western Conference semifinals chasing their sixth-place finish in the finals over the past few years. last eight seasons.

The cheapest FCI this season was $237.55 for the Charlotte Hornets. They have been at the bottom for 10 straight seasons. While just over .500 this season, Charlotte fans at least got to see LaMelo Ball help the club in the Play-In tournament.

Cheapest ticket? Again, the Hornets owned by Michael Jordan at $32.82. There’s a $700 FCI difference between the Knicks and Hornets, and a $153 gap in the average ticket price. Still, Charlotte’s average of 15,541 attendances per game ranked 24th among the league’s 30 teams.

The NBA FCI average this season was $444.12. That’s just 0.9% more than last season, or just over $5, according to Team Marketing Report data released Thursday.

Here is the full 2021-22 NBA Fan Cost Index:

The Knicks have made the playoffs once — a first-round exit at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in 2020-21 — since 2013, which was the last season they finished first in the Atlantic Division. They’ve only had six playoff seasons in the 21st Century and four seasons above .500.

New York, a playoff staple in the 80s and 90s, hasn’t made the NBA Finals since losing to the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. The Knicks haven’t won a title since seven future Hall of Famers did so in 1973.

The only other teams to ever sit at the top of the CFI’s cost during the 31-year draft are the Celtics and Lakers. The Knicks have been the most expensive for fans 21 times.

“Looking at the Knicks, they’ve been the first or second most expensive team every year out of 31 FCIs. Through good or bad in the field,” said Team Marketing Report editor Chris Hartweg. “Part of that is the cost of living in New York, but not the gap of nearly $200 FCI more than San Francisco for Steph and the Warriors or $225 more than LeBron and the Lakers in LA.

“A lot of it is the mystique of MSG, perhaps, because the Rangers have also been the first or second most expensive American team in the NHL for the past 13 years. And we don’t see that from the Nets or the Islanders in FCI costs. These Gotham counterparts have been much more middle of the road.

Based on the overall win-loss record and the FCI, other highly profitable NBA teams this season included the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, and Miami Heat. The Suns, in particular, were great value with a league-best 32-9 home record.

Pocketbook busts included the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets, the latter having the NBA’s worst home record of 11-30 while costing a family an average of $565 for games.

Then you have an outlier in the Brooklyn Nets, who finished 44-38 but were under .500 at home (20-21). They placed 13th with an FCI of $443.

Non-premium NBA ticket prices increased only slightly (0.3%) from last season to a weighted average of $77.75. Eighteen teams have kept ticket prices flat this season, a record in 31 years. Team Marketing Report brought down NBA costs. Two teams reduced the average cost of their tickets.

The number of teams keeping costs flat or cutting them was the highest since 23 did so in 2009-10 and 25 in 2010-11, which Team Marketing Report said was the last major national recession.

Indiana Pacers post 13% year-over-year FCI drop, fueled by average ticket price drop of 20.5%, but stems from Gainbridge Fieldhouse’s multi-year renovation project affecting seating , according to Team Marketing Report.

Ten teams raised ticket prices last season, led by a 6.1 increase by the Warriors – they averaged 18,064 per game this season, a 100% sell-out rate fueled in part by the long-awaited return of Klay Thompson in January. That’s just over an $8 increase from Golden State tickets to an average of $139.49.

Fan costs for major US sports leagues are calculated annually by Team Marketing Report, a Chicago-based business intelligence firm that since 1991 has analyzed and published the numbers after conducting team surveys. Cost metrics are based on the average cost of four non-premium tickets, two beers, two sodas, four hot dogs, two souvenir hats (as an indicator of merchandise purchases), and parking.

Premium seats are not included in the basic FCI classification. Nor are secondary market ticket sales, which are a litmus test of a team’s popularity as the season progresses.

The NBA’s Fan Cost Index has increased nearly 44% over the past 10 seasons.

NBA FCI by season

Season CFI average





















It should be noted that the generally modest year-over-year increases in fan prices this season have not only come amid ongoing inflation concerns, but as the NBA recovers from two seasons plagued by a pandemic. This past regular season was the first to have a full 82-game schedule and full arena capabilities, since 2018-19.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban is not a fan of the Fan Cost Index.

“Winning and losing are not really relevant. This sells the last 10-20% of the tickets. At most,” he said by email Thursday. “Your 10 year old wants to go to the game and have fun. A couple wants to hang out. A group of co-workers want to have fun at the game. They want the home team to win. But you can also have fun watching from bad teams.

Cuban said the Mavs had 4,000 tickets under $29 for each regular season game, with prices starting at $18.

“It’s cheaper than going to the movies these days,” he says. “The real clue is relative to the other entertainment options on the market.”

These are all valid points but in the end the general expectation wins out even if people attend games for other reasons such as company group outings or just to see a great player in a mediocre team .

How does the NBA compare to other major leagues? This graph includes the most recent fan cost indices.

Fan cost index by league

League Average ICF


$568.18 (November 2021)


$462.58 (March 2022)


$444.12 (May 2022)


$253.64 (September 2021)


$250.40 (May 2019)

Hartweg said the NBA and NHL are good to compare because their seasons are concurrent, both 82 games long and often in the same arenas. Their FCI averages almost mirrored from 2016-21, but the NHL got a bit more expensive this season.

“We are again seeing NHL teams becoming more aggressive than their NBA counterparts when it comes to ticket prices, similar to the early to mid-2010s when NHL tickets exceeded NBA offers,” said he wrote.

Team Market Report plans to release FCI data for MLB, MLS and some smaller leagues soon. Its NHL FCI roster was released in March and the NFL was released in November.

(Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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