How to buy NBA tickets: A guide for Australians
Australians buy more NBA tickets than anyone outside of the US. Here's the information you need to know so you can buy NBA tickets.
Maybe it should come as no surprise. Especially after the prices people paid just for some international basketball exhibition matches earlier this year.
Over 103,000 filled out Marvel Stadium for exhibition games between the Boomers and Team USA. The issue here was that some people had spent hundreds, even thousands of dollars and couldn't see the court.
There was even 15,000 who attended Qudos Bank Arena, to watch Team USA toy with a Canadian side sporting only one current NBA player.
While buying tickets for an NBA game can be a similar experience, some simple know-how can land you the best value-for-money seats.
Where can you buy NBA tickets?
NBA tickets are sold online through numerous traders. The list goes on forever but the biggest ticketing agencies include Ticketmaster, StubHub, Vivid Seats and Seat Geek.
Out of these companies Ticketmaster is the only official ticketing agency that sells NBA tickets. The rest are licensed ticket exchange companies, which is something Ticketmaster also does with NBA tickets.
What is a ticket exchange company?
To make it clear a ticket exchange company sells tickets that somebody else owned. Usually a season pass/membership holder will sell their tickets to games they choose not to attend.
It's a safe way for both buyer and seller to complete a transaction. As NBA games are on every night of the week obviously ticketed members can't make it to every match. Ticket exchange companies act as a way for them to recuperate some money and ensure there are still bums on seats.
Does the price of NBA tickets vary by city or team?
Unlike a normal club or team game in Australian sport, American leagues' ticketing prices don't work on a fixed pricing system. The methodology is simply supply and demand. Because of that, it really is best if you wait to purchase your tickets.
Just look at the most recent experience when Team USA came out to play Australia. Many got their tickets thinking they'd see the biggest stars, but it's no guarantee. Players get hurt or are rested and the prices of tickets will reflect this.
Tickets for the NBA also differ each night. A prime-time game on the weekend is undoubtedly more popular than a Tuesday-night fixture played while many are commuting home from work.
NBA tickets for games played in tourist hotspots or by the best teams are going to hit your wallet no matter what. You can't do anything about it and you'll just have to accept that.
Buying NBA tickets with StubHub
StubHub is a licensed ticket exchange company that sells tickets for sport, concerts and other live entertainment. If you haven't heard of them before and are a little hesitant, rest assured it's the largest secondary-market ticket marketplace in the world.
As someone who travelled to the US for a holiday just to watch sport I can't recommend StubHub enough. I pretty much exclusively used StubHub when I purchased NBA tickets.
In fact, for some games I was already lining up at the security checkpoint of the venue without yet buying my ticket. Frantically tapping away at my screen.
StubHub's best feature is Virtual View which gives you a 360-degree view from the very seat you're looking at buying. This is awesome as you can literally preview exactly what you'll be seeing in the arena.
NBA tickets on StubHub are also given a value rating. This rating is indicated out of five and lets you know if you're getting a fair deal.
The only disappointment of Stub Hub is the fees that come with the tickets. On face value you'll think you've found a bargain, but once you begin the transaction processes your opinion will change.
There's a setting in the app to change this so you see the total price including the fee. Fees for tickets vary too, but are normally 10–15% of the ticket's face value.
Buying NBA tickets with Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster is a little more traditional than StubHub, in that it sells brand new tickets. This is one of the things that makes Ticketmaster such a popular choice. Buyers get some peace of mind knowing their seats are locked in.
Ticketmaster also has resale tickets, too. If you're dead against a resale ticket there's an option you can select so you only see brand new tickets.
Ticketmaster is a fine option to buy tickets, but the majority of the time I found the tickets and fees combined were still slightly more than StubHub.
You can access Ticketmaster from the Internet or mobile application. Like StubHub, Ticketmaster also now has a virtual tool that gives you a snapshot of your seating choice.
Buying NBA tickets with Vivid Seats
Vivid Seats can also be accessed via the web or an app. Vivid Seats differentiates itself by running a rewards program for customers. Unfortunately though, unless you're spending some serious time overseas and purchasing heaps of tickets you won't end up with much benefit.
Out of all the companies the Vivid app has the fewest features for users. Overall the app is the least user-friendly experience. Vivid Seats will often have the lowest face value price of any ticketing agency.
Its service fees are astronomically high though, which is frustrating. You'll think you're about to land a bargain before getting to the checkout and receiving a rude shock.
Buying NBA tickets with Seat Geek
While Seat Geek has a great application, there's a much lower choice when it comes to seats. Seat Geek's fee for sellers is quite a bit higher, which means there are fewer listings.
Again when purchasing your seat you'll see a sneak peek. This time though it's more of an indication of where you'll be in the arena rather than what your view of the court will look like.
Should you buy NBA tickets before you leave?
Do NBA games sell out? Absolutely. Almost all NBA games sell out, but there are always tickets still for sale and typically at a discounted price. I can't recommend waiting to buy your tickets on the day enough, through StubHub or Ticketmaster.
You'll save a fair bit of money, which will definitely add up. You can grab tickets on the NBA's official Ticketmaster website or still buy with StubHub. You could also use both of these apps to see if your itinerary matches up with any other US sporting events.
Buying NBA tickets while overseas (recommended)
It's worth monitoring news from around the NBA while you're travelling. If a trade were to happen that landed a big player on a new team, for example, it's only then I'd buy my tickets in advance.
Alternatively, if a star was to get hurt a few days or a week before you're attending, play the wait and see card. If the player was to miss the game, prices will drop.
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