The Golden State Warriors are two games from pulling off a complete sweep of the NBA playoffs, something that has never been done. It would be a tremendous accomplishment, but it could also prove costly.
Team executives have said in the past that they’d rather win than think about the money they’re leaving on the table by not taking a series longer. But the money is hardly something to sneeze at.
In fact, a Game 5 in Oakland alone comes close to paying Steph Curry’s salary for the entire 2016-17 season: $12.1 million. All told, sweeping the series in Cleveland and not returning twice to the Bay Area, as the Warriors did last year for Games 5 and 7, would cost the Warriors’ ownership group more than $22 million.
We didn’t get any help from the Warriors in arriving at those figures. But by talking to those in the know, we can show you the math.
Based on prices the team gave season-ticket holders at the beginning of the season and figuring out roughly how many seats there are in each section, we’ve estimated that the average face-value price for an NBA Finals game at Oracle Arena is $600. Multiply that by the 14,500 season tickets sold, and each game is worth $8.7 million in season-ticket holder ticket revenue alone.
Then there’s another roughly 4,000 tickets that the team can sell at a higher price. Industry sources put the estimate of that ticket at an average of $1,200 per seat. That’s another $4.8 million in revenue per game, which brings the face-value total of all the tickets in the arena to an estimated $13.5 million for each game.
The NBA gets a 25 percent cut of the playoff gate revenue, which means a $3,375,000 chunk would be taken out, but the Warriors are still left with an average of $10,125,000 per game.
Then there’s the Warriors’ piece of the resale business, for those fans who choose to sell their tickets. Although the number isn’t public, if the Warriors took a 10 percent commission from the resale market on their official resale site with Ticketmaster, they’d make almost $1.5 million.
Ticket industry sources suggest that the average sale price for a Game 5 ticket would be three times the value ($1,800) the season-ticket holder paid, and a Game 7 would bring in four times the face value ($2,400 per ticket).
With roughly 3,500 tickets per game changing hands on the official site and the Warriors getting a hypothetical 10 percent fee, that would be an additional $630,000 brought in by fees for Game 5 and $840,000 brought in by fees for Game 7.
That brings the Warriors net take of tickets sales (both primary and resale) to $10,755,000 for Game 5 and $10,965,000 for a Game 7.
But we aren’t finished.
We estimate that the Warriors’ per cap (food, beverage, merchandise and parking) will average $35 a person for Game 5 and $40 a person for Game 7. Taking out various fees, including the ones the Warriors have to pay their vendors, it’s a safe assumption that the team will net half its gross total. That’s $17.50 per fan for Game 5 and $20 per fan for Game 7.
That’s an additional $332,500 for Game 5 and $380,000 for Game 7. That brings the totals to $11,087,500 for Game 5 and $11,345,000 for Game 7.
When given the choice to close out a series or extend it for financial gain, every owner sticks with the same answer: Ending it immediately is more important. After all, the Warriors’ owners would surely have taken closing out the series earlier last season. They got the money associated with Game 7, but they lost the chance to call themselves back-to-back champs.
However, ever since the NBA take of the tickets dropped from 45 percent to 25 percent after the 2015 season, the pain associated with a short series has gotten stronger. There’s so much more to make if a series goes all the way.
In the long run, $22 million will be forgotten about, as another title surely will boost the value of the Warriors by at least that much. But that doesn’t mean Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber won’t spend any time thinking about the short-term cash they could have made if their team weren’t so much better.