SBJ/September 10-16, 2012/Franchises

No Dwight Howard, no problem as Magic keeps ticket and sponsorship sales on pace

Despite a controversy-fueled 2011-12 season and a stormy offseason that saw the team trade superstar Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic has preserved its season-ticket and sponsorship base.

To date, the team has sold 1,500 new full-season tickets, equal to last season through the same time. Total season-ticket sales are expected to land between 13,000 and 14,000 by the start of the upcoming season, ranking the Magic among the top teams in the league in full-season-ticket sales.

The team’s season-ticket renewal rate stands at 80 percent, about the leaguewide average.

“We are on pace from last season and are pleased where we stand,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “Our intent is to rebound quickly from the transition.”

Helping preserve the season-ticket base is the draw of the 2-year-old Amway Center and the team’s decision to keep season-ticket pricing flat overall for the coming season. But there are still challenges on the business side, as team revenue could be hurt by a drop in single-game and group sales should the loss of Howard and the team’s front-office shake-up lead to poor on-court performance.

The Magic this offseason fired coach Stan Van Gundy, and general manager Otis Smith resigned.

The team has not completed its pricing of single-game tickets for 2012-13 and is still in the early stages of completing group sales and sponsorship deals.

“We won’t know about groups and individual-game tickets until we get into the season, and the story will be told in how we come out of the gate,” Martins said, adding that he expects sponsorship revenue to be on par with last year.

The Magic has 50 team sponsors, with more expected by the time the regular season begins in late October. The team’s corporate base is smaller than other NBA franchises, some of which count at least 100 sponsorship deals.

“We went to a less-is-more approach when we went into our new building with larger and more encompassing deals as opposed to greater numbers at a lower yield, and we have maintained that approach,” Martins said.

The Magic is also protected by long-term premium-seating deals put in place when the team moved into the Amway Center in 2010. Of the team’s 60 suites, none was up for renewal this offseason, and just eight to 10 upper-level suites were signed to three-year deals that will expire after this year.

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