Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Any press is good press

Last week, the Washington Post published a thoughtful and measured story by Mark Giannotto on a local professional team that is quickly becoming irrelevant to the region's mainstream sports fans.  The gist of the piece was a description of a dwindling fan base and a sampling of opinions as to why the Washington Mystics have lost much of the goodwill the franchise has built up over the last fifteen years.

Giannotto's recounting of the Mystics woes is depressing, but not as disheartening as this fun fact he relays about the WNBA:
After leading the WNBA in attendance in six of their first seven years (1998-2004), including an all-time high average of 16,202 in 2002, the Mystics averaged a league-high 10,449 fans per game last season. They rank second in the WNBA through 10 home games this year with 9,207 fans per game, behind only WNBA champion Minnesota (9,272). San Antonio (12-5), the most successful team this season to employ one person as GM-coach, ranked third in attendance at 8,407 fans per game.
For the Mystics to be second in league-wide attendance, things must be horrible for the other eleven teams. 

Giannotto's article is remarkably thorough; the one measure, however, that he doesn't hit on is the resale market for Mystics tickets.  After deciding not to remain as season ticket holders, for the last several years we have not bought tickets from the club, but have instead used brokers.  The secondary market for Mystics tickets is always brutal; this year it is a bloodbath.  For the vast majority of home games this season, full corporate suites (18 tickets) have been on offer for less than $150 -- often $100 ($5.56 a ticket) -- as suite owners try to entice anyone with even a remote interest in women's professional basketball to games.  Yet even with the opportunity to use a suite at Verizon for less than the price of two 100-level seats, there is little evident interest in spending two hours at the stadium for the Mystics.

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