If new arena is built, will Pensacola voters attend games

Two-thirds of Pensacola voters support Mayor Ashton Hayward’s effort to attract to the city a NBA G League team  affiliated with New Orleans Pelicans. However, they aren’t as enthusiastic about buying tickets to the games, especially if the ticket prices are higher than $39 each.

On August 1 and 2, Inweekly and Political Matrix conducted a study regarding the proposed minor-league NBA basketball team. After surveying 420 likely Pensacola voters, the study found that 67.9 percent said they support the mayor’s bid to host the team. When asked if they support Mayor Hayward and the city working with the private sector to build an arena for the team, 51.4 percent said yes.

In reviewing the websites of the current NBA Developmental League teams, the ticket prices for courtside and other good seating ranged from $30-$85. The “nose bleed” seats and those with less desirable views of the court could be purchased for as little as $8-$12, depending on the size of the arena.

For a team to be successful, the front office must sell most, if not all, of its court side and better seating.

When we asked Pensacola voters  how likely they were to buy tickets to the games if they were priced between $25 and $39, only 39.8 percent said they were extremely or very likely to buy a ticket. Another 16.9 percent said they were somewhat likely, and 43.3 percent said they weren’t likely to buy a ticket.

When asked about the likelihood of buying tickets if there were between $40 and $59, only 26 percent said they were extremely or very likely to purchase a ticket. If the ticket prices were $60 or higher, only 6 percent said they would buy a ticket.

This study was conducted via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology. The numbers used were supplied by the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office. Only households who voted at least three out of the last four elections were called in this survey. The number were randomized upon implementation of the study and 420 completed studies were collected. The study consisted of five questions asked of the respondents. The margin of error of this study was +/- 4.5 percent.

1. First, do you support Mayor Ashton Hayward’s effort to bring a professional basketball team to the City of Pensacola?
Responses: 420 Overall %
1. Yes 285 67.90%
2. No 98 23.30%
3. No sure 37 8.80%
2. Next, do you support Mayor Hayward and the City working with the private sector to build an arena for the team?
Responses: 420 Overall %
1. Yes 216 51.40%
2. No 155 36.90%
3. No sure 49 11.70%
3. Now, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being extremely likely, and 5 being extremely unlikely; please provide your opinion. if you knew the tickets were between $25 and $39, how likely are you to attend?
Responses: 420 Overall %
1. Extremely likely 131 31.20%
2. Very likely 36 8.60%
3. Somewhat likely 71 16.90%
4. Very unlikely 53 12.60%
5. Extremely unlikely 129 30.70%
4. Now, if the tickets were between $40 and $59, how likely are you to attend?
Responses: 420 Overall %
1. Extremely likely 34 8.10%
2. Very likely 75 17.90%
3. Somewhat likely 53 12.60%
4. Very unlikely 86 20.50%
5. Extremely unlikely 172 41.00%
5. Finally, if the tickets were between $60 or higher, how likely are you to attend?
Responses: 420 Overall %
1. Extremely likely 15 3.60%
2. Very likely 10 2.40%
3. Somewhat likely 24 5.70%
4. Very unlikely 66 15.70%
5. Extremely unlikely 305 72.60%


NBA Minor League Teams


Boston Celtics – Maine Red Claws
Toronto Raptors – Raptors 905
New York Knicks – Westchester Knicks
Philadelphia 76ers – Delaware 87ers
Brooklyn Nets – Long Island Nets
Cleveland Cavaliers – Canton Charge
Milwaukee Bucks – Wisconsin Herd
Indiana Pacers – Fort Wayne Mad Ants
Chicago Bulls – Windy City Bulls
Detroit Pistons – Grand Rapids Drive
*Washington Wizards – None
Atlanta Hawks – Erie BayHawks
Miami Heat – Sioux Falls Skyforce
Charlotte Hornets – Greensboro Swarm
Orlando Magic – Lakeland Magic

Utah Jazz – Salt Lake City Stars
Oklahoma City Thunder – Oklahoma City Blue
*Portland Trailblazers – None
*Denver Nuggets – None
Minnesota Timberwolves – Iowa Wolves
Golden State Warriors – Santa Cruz Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers – Agua Caliente Clippers
Sacramento Kings – Reno Bighorns
Los Angeles Lakers – South Bay Lakers
Phoenix Suns – Northern Arizona Suns
San Antonio Spurs – Austin Spurs
Houston Rockets – Rio Grande Valley Vipers
Memphis Grizzlies – Memphis Hustle
*New Orleans Pelicans – None
Dallas Mavericks – Texas Legends

Note: Milwaukee, Atlanta, Orlando, Minnesota and Memphis have teams that will debut next season.


3 thoughts on “If new arena is built, will Pensacola voters attend games

  1. How many downtown businesses bought tickets for their employees do people would go to the games??

  2. The Blue Wahoos offer great family entertainment at a very reasonable price and they sell out regularly. The ticket prices for this NBA development league (minor league) would almost certainly guarantee long term failure. Building a facility with public dollars for such a risky proposition would pretty ignorant.

  3. There’s a good website that discusses how private, for-profit sports teams try to con governments into using taxpayer dollars – http://www.fieldofschemes.com. Putting such an arena in the heart of downtown in a storm surge zone where the situation is only going to get worse with each passing decade is a bad idea. Any such arena as a stand-alone project or adjacent to a replacement for the Pensacola Bay Center should be on dry land readily accessible to I-10. Of all the potential sites I can think of University Mall seems a good place to begin looking at for a new sports/entertainment complex. On the upside, there are already plenty of hotels nearby. Also on the upside, University Mall is in Uptown Pensacola the area’s economic engine not Downtown Pensacola. University Mall is outside of city limits in Unincorporated Escambia County. A smarter plan would be for the Escambia County Commission to begin thinking about what elements should be in such a sports/entertainment complex, how to fund it (presumably using tourism tax revenues – not Local Option Sales Tax dollars that Hayward wants to divert from the city’s neighborhoods) and where to place it. The city has a well-established track record of screwing up large scale projects to include the Community Maritime Park “economic development” project that is mostly vacant and requires more than $3 million a year in taxpayer subsidies. In addition to thinking about sports, concerts and events such a graduations, such a complex should also be used to upgrade the performing arts. Perhaps more than sports facilities, what Pensacola lacks is first-class venues for the performing arts – symphony, opera, ballet, theater, etc. I believe that such facilities would also help attract businesses to want to relocate here. Any such facility would much benefit from a strong partnership with UWF, Pensacola State College and Pensacola Christian College. Hayward’s approach to work in secret, try to grab all the credit for himself and shift all the blame onto others remains a bad long-term approach.

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