COMMENTARY | Despite a new local owner, a long-term lease agreement, and the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Hornets are last in the NBA in attendance. This is nothing new for the Hornets as the team has periodically struggled to rally its football-crazed fan base to support NBA basketball in New Orleans.
To go along with rebranding the Hornets as the Pelicans, owner Tom Benson has made another drastic decision to generate local interest in his team. The Hornets recently announced they will cut ticket prices on over 80 percent of the seats in the New Orleans Arena for the 2013-14 season.
While Hornets' fans are celebrating this decision, they may be surprised to learn that New Orleans already has some of the least expensive NBA ticket prices. In fact, the Hornets rank 28th out of 30 NBA teams in average ticket price this season. Clearly, ticket prices are not the reason why the Hornets are last in attendance.
Still, as an astute businessman, Tom Benson knows that ticket prices are driven by the law of supply and demand. Whether the move to cut 2013-14 ticket prices for the team's inaugural season as the Pelicans is simply a goodwill gesture or a move that could actually improve attendance, it was a necessary step for Tom Benson to take.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Hornets already had one of the smallest metropolitan populations in the NBA. Although New Orleans is officially the fastest growing city in America and has one of the nation's best economies, its metro population is still nowhere near that of most NBA cities.
In addition to cutting ticket prices on over 80 percent of its seats, New Orleans also announced that over a fifth of its seats will have their prices cut by at least 20 percent. Also, the Hornets are reducing some ticket prices by 44 percent. The lowest priced single game tickets for 2013-14 will be $12.
The long-term viability of the Pelicans in New Orleans should be fine due to Benson's financial resources and the corporate partnerships he can bring to the team due to also being the Saints' owner. New Orleans' strong economy also bodes well for the Pelicans' future. But in the short term, cutting 2013-14 ticket prices is a good way to get local fans to check out what should be an exciting product on the floor.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. Patrick has followed the Hornets since they moved to New Orleans and has covered the team since 2010. He was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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