Pistons spice up ticket promotions in effort to boost attendance
Detroit — For most of the first two seasons at Little Caesars Arena, the Pistons got as much attention for the bright red seats in the lower bowl than their play on the court.
On television, the empty seats were a tangible reminder of the Red Wings’ design flaw, but also of the Pistons fans’ malaise with the team making just two playoff appearances in the past decade.
Most of the lower bowl at Little Caesars Arena consists of premium club seats, which can cost around $180 each and include food and drinks. That’s only a small portion of the typical game attendance of about 17,000 tickets sold, which the Pistons are looking to boost with this season’s ticket promotions and packages.
In addition to the premium price point of the club seats, the Pistons are augmenting their offerings with more affordable promotions and offers ahead of the Oct. 24 home opener against the Atlanta Hawks. The opener is part of a “Wallside Windows BOGO” two-for-one ticket package with some $18 seats in the upper level averaging $9 each.
That package is available for four additional games: Oct. 28 against the Indiana Pacers, Nov. 6 versus the New York Knicks, Nov. 11 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nov. 22 versus the Hawks.
“We’re excited about the upcoming season and the range of ticket options we have available to fans this year,” said Brad Lott, senior vice president of ticket sales. “Whether you are looking to entertain clients with club seats, spend time with family and friends or visit Little Caesars Arena for the first time, we offer a wide variety of ticket options, pricing and entertainment that makes a Pistons game a great night out.”
Another new package is the Motor City Pass, which has seating in the gondola for up to eight games in a calendar month for $89. It’s the first subscription service the Pistons have offered, allowing fans to select games around their monthly schedule or budget and cancel at any time.
With the Motor City Pass, there are only about 200 seats available for each game and the only game excluded is for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on March 22. Lott says the flexibility of being able to pick specific months is a big benefit, including an eight-game home slate in December that features the San Antonio Spurs, Milwaukee Bucks, defending-champion Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers.
The third package is the Sprite Family Four Pack, which provides four tickets, four hot dogs and four soft drinks starting at $99. It's available for all games.
Along with offering options for affordable tickets, the Pistons also are looking to provide value in concessions, with two options to feed a family of four for less than $50. The first is a whole pizza, two bottles of water, two soft drinks and a popcorn for $43.50. The second option is four hot dogs, two bottles of water, two soft drinks and a popcorn for $49.75.
Though the Pistons made the playoffs last season and had their best record (41-41) since 2016, the ticket sales didn’t reflect that improvement. They ranked 24th in the NBA in home attendance and averaged 16,486 tickets sold in 41 games at Little Caesars Arena, marking a drop of about 5.6 percent over 2017-18.
It did, however, reflect an increase over their final year at The Palace of Auburn Hills, when they averaged 15,979, ranking 25th in the league. The addition of Blake Griffin provided some boost to ticket sales, but they aren’t just based on the Pistons; it also has some potential buyers selecting games for specific opponents.
That’s where the Pistons’ new targeted ticket packages provide some individual-game options and those who might be considering partial-season purchases.
“I’ll probably do the 10-game package because I’m still looking to see a particular opponent as well and I want to be selective of the games I come to,” said Clifton Clarke III, a former season-ticket holder. “It’s a price issue for me. I started my payment plan and I’m only two payments from a 10-game plan (versus choosing some other packages).”
The team also has some unique giveaway nights, including a Pistons Hat Series, which features custom-designed hats by students from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. The Poster Series will have 10 games with posters designed by the CCS students featured in the game programs for the first 10,000 fans.
Red to black
The red seats at Little Caesars Arena are gone, replaced by darker-colored seats that blend with the other levels — and don’t show up prominently on TV.
Lott says season-ticket renewals are at about 90 percent of last season and the club membership is up, including the Players Club, which is sold out.
For all games, pricing often is the consideration for fans purchasing tickets, but with a dynamic pricing model it’s sometimes difficult to get tickets for games with the highest demand. The price fluctuations in the four tiers are dictated by day of the week, opponent and the time of year.
Top-tier opponents, such as the Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Raptors, are in the “Elite” ticket level — where tickets range from about $375 in the club levels, to about $180 for “Select” level, which includes 15 home games.
Tiered tickets for “Select” level begin at $18 for the upper level and start at $41 for lower-bowl tickets for seats in the “end zones” behind the baskets.
More information about ticket packages, promotional nights and giveaways is available at Pistons.com/tickets.