Somewhere near the bottom of the long list of Sandy’s impacts—lower than the premature babies evacuated from a New York City hospital and the sections of Atlantic City washed into the sea, the loss of power to millions, the halting of public transit, and altered calculations for the presidential campaigns, and perhaps just ahead of the closing of Broadway theaters—was the crowding out of the NBA’s season opener. It happened yesterday, in case you missed it. There were games in Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Miami, where LeBron James and his Heat teammates received their championship rings from last season and defeated the Boston Celtics.
The TV ratings are not in yet, but with millions of people in the northeast unable to watch even if they’d wanted to, it’s a good bet that the numbers were dim for the two nationally televised games on TNT. (Then again, a good many people were still essentially housebound, some of those with power.)
The storm may also put a damper on two marquee events this week in New York. Thursday night, the Nets were due to open the regular season in their new home at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against their now crosstown rivals, the New York Knicks. The NBA announced late Tuesday night that Thursday’s game would not be postponed despite the city’s disabled subway system and the cancellation of a Journey concert on Tuesday and a Smashing Pumpkins show tonight at Barclays. (Those two may be the very bottom of the Sandy impact list.) But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Thursday night’s Nets opener had been postponed at his request. “I’m sorry about the game. I was personally looking forward to it,” he told reporters.
On Friday, the Knicks are scheduled to host the defending champ Heat at the Garden. “It’s on,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank wrote in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon.
On the bright side for fans, ticket prices for the two games are dropping. SeatGeek, an online service that tracks the secondary market for sporting events and concerts, says it hasn’t seen “fire sales” yet for either game, but prices are down 25 percent to 30 percent for both the 6,100 tickets listed for the Heat vs. Knicks and 2,100 for Knicks vs. Nets. “In the case of tomorrow’s Knicks-Nets game, we’ve seen the average sale price of a ticket fall from last week’s average of around $430 per seat to around $320 within the past 48 hours since the storm hit,” writes Will Flaherty, SeatGeek’s director of communications. The pattern is the same for the Knicks and Heat on Friday, with the average price dropping from $310 to $256.
“It’s natural for NBA ticket prices to fall about 20 percent as we get into the final 24-48 hours before tipoff,” Flaherty cautions, “Sandy may have added some tailwinds to those falling prices, but the market is still quite robust considering the extreme circumstances and hardship in terms of getting around NYC.”