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FOR THE NBA PLAYOFFS, ARE EMPTY SEATS SIGNS OF DISCONTENT?
Published April 30, 1998
The NBA "has grown into" a $2B "sports juggernaut in the last decade," and Michael Jordan is "in no small way responsible" for its 10-20% annual revenue growth, according to CNBC's Mike Hegedus, who examined issues facing the league on "The Edge." Hegedus: "But as salaries have gone up, so have ticket prices, leading to something new in the playoffs -- empty seats." The Marquee Group's Lee Berke: "In the first games of the first round of the NBA Playoffs, up to half of the arenas were not sold out." Berke says that while the league is "still very healthy," issues such as ticket increases, "bouts with image problems" and a potential lockout have "hurt [its] position with the fans." Starter's Steve Raab, on whether sales of licensed merchandise have been affected: "You see the consolidation at retail, you see the consolidation among licensees. I think that shakeout is going to happen, and I think the strong will still be here." Sara Lee's Champion termed NBA sales "flat," but said it will "change its approach." Champion's Nicole Blake: "That means having increasing stock on the shelves, quicker turnaround times, quicker shipping times, and being able to respond so that the fans can find NBA merchandise they want to purchase where and when they want to buy it." Starter's Raab, on future sales: "It really depends on who wins this year. If the Bulls win again, I would expect that sales will probably be on par with last year. If it's another team, depending on who the team is, you may see something close, you may see a big drop off -- it just depends on the market" ("The Edge," 4/29).