NerdWallet, a consumer advocacy website, recently conducted a study which measured the cost of attending a home game at each of the league's 30 franchises. After cross-comparing the compiled pricing data, NerdWallet then ranked the teams based upon each team's level of affordability. Coming in at No. 8, the results of the study found that the Indiana Pacers - even with the added success of having made two consecutive trips to the Eastern Conference Finals - continue to be one of the league's most moderately priced franchises.
In order to compare the data sets from all 30 teams, the consumer advocacy website devised what they term as a "Total Family Cost" (TFC) to calculate affordability. The TFC is the aggregate price of four tickets on the secondary market, two beers, two sodas, four hot dogs, and one parking space. After crunching the numbers, NerdWallet concluded that the Total Family Cost to attend a Pacers game for a family of four is $406.16.
Notably, the findings show that the Pacers' Total Family Cost is nearly $250.00 cheaper than the league average ($654.09) and approximately 73% less than the cost to watch the new look Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena ($1,504.89). Coming in at just $350.00, the Minnesota Timberwolves currently boast the league's most affordable Total Family Cost, a title held by the Cleveland Cavaliers last season (for more on the LeBron effect hop here).
The consumer advocacy website's commentary on the Pacers' eighth place ranking is as follows:
The Pacers have made the Eastern Conference finals the last two seasons, but hopes have dimmed because star Paul George will likely miss the entire season after a brutal injury he suffered playing for the U.S. national team this summer. Ticket prices were surprisingly low last year, and after a modest 5% jump, the Pacers' TFC is still the eighth-lowest in the NBA at $406. Beer, soda and parking costs are all well below average at Pacers home games.
NerdWallet's pricing study closely corresponds with ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Team Rankings, which for the second year in a row named the Indiana Pacers the top team in terms of bang for the buck. According to ESPN, the Pacers' average ticket price ($51.95) ranks fourth in the league. With special promotions such as "Lucas Oil Family Night" (offering four tickets, four shirts, and four combo meals for $50), "Two for Tuesdays" (offering a second ticket at a steep discount with the purchase of one regularly priced ticket), and "College Night" (offering students a ticket at $10.00), there is absolutely no doubting the Pacers' commitment to offer those in or commuting to Indiana an affordable NBA game experience.
While maintaining "Blue Collar" prices is good news for fans of the Pacers, an important question for the franchise is whether the team's recently tarnished "Gold Swagger" will result in diminished attendance. Expected to make a deep playoff run during the 2013-14 season, the Pacers' average attendance ranked 15th in the league at 17,501, an increase of more than 2,000 fans over the prior season.
However now, with Paul George on the mend and expectations for the season greatly lessened, it begs the question as to whether the Pacers will once again struggle to lure fans to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
"Last year is really the only time we had our fans really engaged with the team since the incident in Detroit," said Larry Bird in a recent interview while on board NBA.com's Hang Time bus. "And it's unfortunate that now our best player is out."
According to the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer, the team did experience a 90 percent renewal rate among season ticket holders prior to Paul George's unfortunate injury.
Even so, since that infamous day at the campus of UNLV, several signs have already begun to indicate that the Pacers may not be seen as an intriguing option to audiences this season. Likely wanting to avoid decreased ratings, the Blue-and-Gold were only allotted five nationally television games by ESPN and TNT. Moreover, while the following numbers may no longer be accurate, only a week ago the local Miller Time Podcast provided some highly persuasive evidence for why fans should apply for Area 55:
Want FREE Pacers season tickets? Area 55 tryouts end tomorrow evening, and there are only 42 entries. Why not? http://t.co/HvFIyrPyIj— Miller Time Podcast (@MillerTimePod) October 13, 2014
Though there is no way to know for sure if the low number of entrants was due to lack of interest or slow word of mouth, this and other factors does cast a shadow of doubt about the team's ability to consistently get, as George Hill refers to it, more mustard in the stands.
Of course, whether the team's affordability laid out by NerdWallet's study will trump the team's seeming lack of star power is still very much yet to be determined.
Nevertheless, after a cataclysmic off-season and with the upcoming season still posing far more questions than answers, there is no room for woe-is-me attitudes among the Pacers brass:
"But the one thing that we do in Indiana is we don't usually complain about it, because no one is listening," Larry Bird told NBA.com's Hang Time crew. "So you just keep pushing, you grind, and you just try to get the franchise back to [its] winning ways and where they can compete for a championship."