SBJ/March 11-17, 2013/Franchises

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  • Season-ticket holders snap up Heat’s new three-year plans

    High demand for the Miami Heat has allowed the franchise to lock up more than half of its season-ticket base for the next three years, the result of a multiyear renewal option the club began for its fans earlier this season.

    It’s a strategy that’s rarely employed in the NBA. No other franchise currently offers a three-year season-ticket renewal plan across all season-ticket price points.

    The Heat began its three-year offers in December. The deals provide the team with assured ticket revenue; they also lessen the season-ticket administrative burden on the club. For ticket holders, the long-term buys lock in rates — countering any price increases that might come down the line — and bring additional perks, as well. Purchasers of Miami’s three-year plan are offered tickets to the first three rounds of Heat playoff games this season at regular-season prices. In addition, the average price increase for season tickets next year under the three-year plan is 5 percent. That compares to an average 6 percent increase for 2013-14 season tickets if purchased as a single-year buy.

    This is not the first time the Heat has sold three-year season-ticket plans. The team also did so after Miami won its first NBA title, in 2006. The three-year plan offered at that time came with no price increases for the tickets across the span of the deal.

    “We got a lot of requests to bring it back,” said Eric Woolworth, president of business operations for the Heat. “[Season-ticket buyers] liked the incentives and the guarantee that they would always pay the lowest price.”

    Along with having a star-laden team on the court, Miami has increased demand for Heat season tickets by limiting the seasonlong inventory that’s available for the club. Woolworth would not disclose the specific cap Miami has placed on season-ticket sales at 19,600-seat AmericanAirlines Arena, but much of the nightly ticket inventory is held back from season selling in part to maximize revenue through dynamic and variable ticket-pricing efforts.

    “We have kept our season-ticket base artificially low because we like to keep our group-sales business going and we like to keep a nice amount of individual tickets so that we can variable and dynamically price,” Woolworth said.

    Woolworth would not provide specific numbers on the size of the team’s season-ticket base but did say that more than half of this year’s base has already agreed to renew on the three-year plan.

    Heading into this season, 15 NBA teams were projected to have sales of at least 10,000 full-season equivalent tickets.

    Woolworth also said having a big season-ticket base can prove challenging with the need to renew all those accounts. Having multiyear plans can increase efficiency.

    “For fans, it provides several advantages, including price certainty, so they can plan ahead. And because fans are billed monthly rather than in three or six larger installments, the monthly payments are relatively low, reducing pressure on the pocketbook,” said Chris Granger, executive vice president of team marketing and business operations for the NBA, via email. “It also works well for the Heat. Service reps are freed up during the renewal season to spend more time focused on the accounts not enrolled in the plan. When the season-ticket base is as sizable as it is in Miami, this is a critical benefit.”

    While no other NBA teams have multiyear season-ticket renewal plans for all price points, the Brooklyn Nets have a three-year plan for their higher-end, “all-access” season seats at Barclays Center.

    “Teams are always looking for ways to make the renewal process easier,” Granger said. “Year-round payment plans, multiyear renewal options, and online renewals are becoming the norm rather than the exception.”

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