Gearing up to attend an NBA game but not quite sure what to expect? This guide aims to help with providing the average total cost to attend any game, advice on getting the most affordable tickets out there, what to expect from the concession stands, and finally the best and worst seats for the money and the atmosphere.
Average Cost to Attend an NBA Game
If you're looking to take the family out to an NBA game, it's good to know what the overall cost will be. Here's what to expect for tickets, parking, concessions and souvenirs. Of course this guide will be just as helpful if you are going with a date, a group of friends or even solo.
For the NBA, it depends heavily on where you live and what team you want to see. If you live in Charlotte, you're in luck. Average tickets will only run you $31. Though to be a New York Knick fan isn't cheap, with the highest average cost of $129 per ticket.
That's the range: approx. $30-$130. Large variance. Though sites like ValuePenguin and Statista do a really good job of showing you the average ticket price for all NBA teams. Safe to budget $70 a ticket here.
Parking costs general coincide with ticket costs. The more expensive the ticket, typically the more parking will be. Prices range from $5 (again Charlotte Hornets) to $35 (Miami Heat). Smart to budget $20-25 here.
Most people opt to eat and buy drinks at the game. This is a good idea for NBA games as the costs are actually fairly affordable, right in line with what you would expect buying food and drinks to go see a movie. Average drinks run $3-5.50 (sodas and water that is). And if you are wanting alcohol, the average beer costs $5-11.
To give you an idea of food costs, the average hot dog will be $6-10. So smart to budget $15 per person for food and drinks.
This is the most optional budget consideration. But if you only go to games every so often, worth budgeting for. If you are looking for a jersey, the NBA store online has them for $49-109. Expect similar prices, if not slightly inflated, at the arena. Other options are foam fingers, team logo towels, t-shirts and hoodies. Best advice here, the more popular your team, the more expensive all of these will be.
Total Cost for a Family of Four
Adding everything up, the average total cost for a family of four to attend an NBA regular season game will be... $365. For a single person, expect to spend $50-$180 (not including alcohol and souvenirs). Here's a more complete breakdown of cost ranges:
Family of 4 (low end) - $185 + souvenirs and alcohol
Family of 4 (average) - $365 + souvenirs and alcohol
Family of 4 (high end) - $655 + souvenirs and alcohol
Single person - $50-$180 + souvenirs and alcohol
A date or two friends - $100 - $260 + souvenirs and alcohol
Advice on Getting Cheap Tickets
Last Minute Deals
Always the best advice for getting cheap tickets. Be on the lookout for last minute deals. Arenas really want to sell out and pack in the crowds. Take advantage of this and you can see your budget go way down from the $300+ for the family night out.
Just be prepared to either go last minute, or if you fail, to watch the game at home. It's a gamble, but can be worthwhile. Tickets can go for a healthy 50%-75% discount if you wait until the last few hours to buy.
Less Desirable Seats, on the Cheap.
Combine this strategy with getting last minute deals on tickets and you could get entry to the game for next to nothing. But of course it's all about the experience once you are there as well. Budget isn't everything, and not everyone likes the nose bleed section. But for those that just want to be in the arena for the action regardless, typically the higher up you are the cheaper the ticket becomes.
Standing Room Only
These kind of tickets are only going to available for the most popular games and the biggest, more professional venues, and they certainly aren't for everyone. These tickets are available for venues expecting to sell out of all seats, to allow fans to stand and watch the game in certain areas. Standing for 3-4 hours can certainly be taxing, but also worth it considering the heavy discount you get. While an average price isn't available for this option, expect 50-75% savings off an average seat ticket.
Concession Stand Guide
The Typical and Not-So-Typical Menus at the Game.
Expect concession stand costs to be in the neighborhood of movie theater or state fair costs, with similar menu options. Hot dogs, pretzels, pizza, hamburgers and nachos are typical staple foods for most arenas. Though some venues get much more creative.
A good idea would be to do a quick google search for what your venue serves to see if you want to eat beforehand or not. Plus to eating out or at home vs at the game is you will likely get higher quality food and save a little bit of money.
If the plan is to drink alcohol at the game, beer is a staple almost everywhere. And you can even get wine or liquor at most venues as well. As every arena varies, best to do a quick internet search for your arena's alcohol selection.
Best/Worst Seats Rundown
Is Half Court, Front Row really the Best Option?
Luckily with NBA games, there is no need to worry about the weather. All games are played indoors with closed stadium ceilings. So choosing the best seat really just comes down to the view and your atmosphere of choice.
If you want the crowd noise and a great view, the safest bet (and most desirable location) would be as close to the half court line as you can get. While everyone loves to be in the first row, consider that those tickets are really marked up and your view can be seriously obstructed throughout the game. Actually the best view comes from the raised vantage of the second section, near half court.
Though being at half court does have its disadvantages. That's the beauty of picking seats. No seats are terrible, they just have pros/cons. The con to half court seating is while you are able to see all the action, you don't have a close view of the scoring plays at either end. Picking a seat around the free throw line gives you an excellent view of ... half of the action.
The Private Suite Route
For those wanting a more laid back and quiet experience, opt for a private suite. No doubt the prices are more expensive. But you can expect your own TVs displaying the action (as if you were in a bar of sorts while at the game) along with a fairly good view, easy access to restrooms that most fans don't get, and usually access to better food. The price raises with these perks, but if money is less a concern, go for it.