Big game, big business – the 2016 NBA all-star extravaganza

Toronto carries its sports business momentum into 2016 as it hosts the NBA All-Star game – the first ever held outside of the U.S. While it’s definitely a huge game, with a roster of marquee players both East and West, it’s also big business, and is shaping up to be a hot, and very high dollar ticket.

Big game, big money

In fact, the game tickets are the most expensive on record (admittedly, that’s a reseller’s record of ticket prices that only stretches back six years.) The website TiqIQ, for example, lists scattered reseller tickets ranging from $818 to $7838 apiece, including a service fee that tops a thousand dollars in the case of the most expensive ticket. The Sys-Con News Feed says the “average” ticket price is “173% above last year’s… ($1588 to $4340 US.)


Why so big?

There are a number of reasons for the big bump. This is the first time the NBA All-Star Game has been played outside of the U.S., and Canadian fans are stoked, especially since two of the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan are on the East squad. The rest of the roster is a factor as well – As Forbes notes, LeBron James will lead the Eastern Conference team, which also features Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade, among others. Kobe Bryant is playing for the Western Conference in his last All-Star Game ever, alongside teammates like Kevin Durant and Stephan Curry.


More than just one game

Fans in Toronto will have events to pick from all weekend, as Forbes points out. Tickets for the opening event, the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, average more than $400 “…and the get-in price (the lowest possible price for a seat – probably not a good one) starts from $168.” Forbes says those average prices in 2015 at Madison Square Garden were about half that. There are other events on Friday and Saturday night as well. Using the average prices quoted in the Forbes article, someone could easily spend over $5,000 for tickets alone, before figuring in air and hotel. If even a percentage of that stays in the local economy, it’s a big shot in the arm.


Big game, big name

And then there’s the halftime show – and the choice here was not without controversy. It’s not because of who was hired – former Police frontman and Grammy Award winner Sting – his list of credits is nearly endless. The controversy stems from who was not hired – a Canadian (Sting was born in the north of England.) Critics of the choice have mentioned as preferable Justin Bieber and Drake, who is coaching one of the Celebrity teams.


One game, two markets

One other factor that sets this game apart somewhat is the fact that Toronto is so close to the U.S. It’s expected that a lot of the ticket sales will come from south of the border, where the economy is stronger right now than it is in Canada, supporting those high ticket prices and boosting buzz.


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