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NBA should give back

Posted by Eric Fisher On July 8

Fisher column logo2The premise of this column is ridiculous.

My suggestion has no chance of happening.

It is pure fantasy.

But I’m going to write this column anyway.

NBA teams have offered more than $3 billion in new contracts this month. That’s three billion dollars.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, who has never been an All-Star, will receive more than $30 million a year for five years to remain with Memphis. The Raptors retained the services of guard DeMar DeRozan for five years for $139 million.

That’s lottery money, folks. Actually, it’s more per year than the winner of tonight’s Mega Millions lottery winner would receive, and that jackpot is currently estimated at $540 million.

Where is all the money coming from? Primarily from broadcast fees. With the money from new television contracts kicking in, the salary cap increased from $70 million last season to $94 million for the upcoming season. The salary cap is expected to rise another $8 million next season, according to the latest projections. That’s less than the original projection of an additional $13 million increase.

NBA teams have been spending that money as if it has an expiration date. Former Sixer Evan Turner, who has had a fairly mediocre career, received a four-year offer for $70 million from the Trail Blazers. The Lakers offered backup center Timofey Mozgov $64 million for four years. The Wizards made a nearly identical offer to center Ian Mahinmi.

Some of you may be asking, “Who in the world is Ian Mahinmi?” He averaged 9.3 points last season for the Pacers. His career average after eight seasons is 5.1 points. So Mahinmi is going to receive more than $3 million for each point of his career average.

If NBA teams have nothing better to do with their new cash than distribute humungous piles of it to mediocre players as if it’s Monopoly money, I have a better idea.

Give it to the fans.

I’m serious.

The average NBA attendance this past season was approximately 18,000. (I’m rounding off the numbers to make the math easier for me.) Keep in mind that the Sixers’ average attendance is listed at 14,881, but I’m going to use the NBA’s official figures rather than speculate about the actual number of fans attending these games. This means that the average attendance per team is approximately 740,000 per season.

My proposal is for the NBA to share its bounty with the fans.

Here’s how it would work. If each NBA team reduced its tickets by $10 per ticket, it would cost each team $7.3 million in revenue this season. That’s only $1.3 million more than the Pistons will be paying Ish Smith next season. Remember, increased revenue is pushing the salary cap up by $24 million. Instead of spending all of that money on the players, why not give less than one-third of that money back to the fans?

It could be argued that the reduction in ticket prices could lead to more people buying tickets, so, unless a team already sells out all of its games, the revenue loss would be less than $7.3 million. But, for simplicity sake, let’s leave the figure at $7.3 million.

This isn’t a request for charity. Who do you think is watching all these games, which allows the stations to charge more for advertising? The fans are responsible for the increased television rights fees, so they should share in the benefits.

Reducing ticket prices across the board by $10 would also be a public relations coup for the NBA.

But it will never happen.

The NBA teams wouldn’t agree to it, and neither would the players union, which is thrilled to see its members being paid outrageous salaries.

Reducing ticket prices across the board is a pie-in-the-sky idea.

It’s pure fantasy.

It has no chance of happening. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

But that doesn’t mean giving back to the fans isn’t an idea worth considering.

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