Following the July 1 free agency of several superstar players, the NBA offseason has already been filled with enormous speculation as to which teams will likely land LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love and Chris Bosh. In the latest addition to the melting pot, several outlets have free agency’s biggest star, LeBron James, returning to the team that drafted him more than a decade ago in the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, if the stars aligned amidst all of the free agent rumors and LeBron did in fact make his way back to Cleveland, where might Cavaliers tickets rank among the league’s secondary market next season?
Let’s start with an in-depth look at how Cavs tickets have fluctuated since LeBron’s final year in Cleveland. The 2009-10 season, which was the last season that saw James wear wine and gold, had an average price of $195.70. Following Lebron’s departure, tickets for the 2010-11 season plummeted to $51.87, more than 73% lower than the previous season’s average. The 2011-2012 had the average price of tickets rise slightly to $64.29 after rookie sensation Kyrie Irving was drafted by Cleveland, but still served as one of the lowest season averages in the league. Despite another losing season, 2012-2013 continued to see prices rise at $82.07 even with a last place finish in the Central division. Last season, the Cavs finished 16 games under .500, dropping any playoff hopes and season as well as season average, which was just $68.17.
LeBron’s first visit back to Cleveland during the 2010-11 season was one of the most anticipated moments of the year, with fans eager to express their general disgust with his new team. He made his first appearance back at Quicken Loans Arena on December 2, 2010, wherein Cavs tickets sold for $251.95 on the secondary market. This marked a 385% increase in secondary ticket price for the inaugural visit. The following year the Heat traveled to Cleveland just once, with average price for the February 2, 2012 game $153.43, 138% above that season’s average price. During the 2012-2013 season, LeBron’s only game in Cleveland had an average price of $126.24, 53.8% above the season average of $82.07. Last season’s two Cleveland matchups saw an average price of $202.74 and $187.48, 197% and 175% above the season average of $68.17, respectively.
If James were to announce his second coming to Cleveland in the coming days, the city would certainly benefit immensely from a monetary standpoint. Following a signing with the Cavs James could singlehandedly dominate the secondary market, producing an average price right at the top of the league alongside New York, Miami and Oklahoma City. The 2013-14 season saw the Knicks tickets at Madison Square Garden hold a league leading secondary market average of $236.78, another team who will see a drastic drop in price if Carmelo Anthony walks during the offseason, while Heat tickets had an average price of $234.36 that same year. OKC Thunder tickets trailed Miami last season with an average price of $193.11 for the third most expensive average in the league. If Cavs tickets average around $200-225 for the upcoming 2014-15 season, an entirely plausible number pending LeBron’s decision, Miami’s Big Three era would run its course which in-turn would also drop the team’s secondary ticket price and allow the Cavs to sit among the league’s top grossing teams on the secondary market.
After ditching Cleveland for the Heat just four years ago, angered Cavs fans burnt James’ jersey in the streets and team owner Dan Gilbert even went so far as to pen a spiteful public letter to James, which has since been removed from the team’s website. Tensions appear to have subsided in Cleveland with King James weighing his options, however, and there is no doubt both the franchise and fans would welcome basketball’s best athlete back with open arms.