Not Hot-lanta for the Hawks

With an average paid (but perhaps not actual) home attendance of
just more than 15,000 fans per game, the Atlanta Hawks fill about
81 percent of Philips Arena on a nightly basis but are actually
among the top 10 teams in NBA attendance — though you
wouldn’t know it from most pictures:

But one would like to think that drawing people in to watch the
hometown team compete in the playoffs wouldn’t be a problem.
The Hawks have, after all, reached the postseason in each of the
last six seasons, and gotten out of the first round three times in
that span, coming within two wins of the conference finals in
2011.

However, a deal featured on the coupon site LivingSocial for the
Hawks’ two playoff games against the Indiana Pacers this
weekend calls that into question.

With the deal, fans can purchase a ticket in section 307 or 314
for $16, instead of $32. Prospective spectators can also spend $51
on a seat in sections 108-11 or 119-122 — lower-bowl seats
behind the basket that are usually sold at a face value of $68. The
deal applies to both Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday, and
as of 11 a.m. ET, more than 1,300 seats had been purchased.

Generally, these kinds of deals are a bad sign for teams who
have plenty of seats available in their own hometown. The Miami
Marlins, for example, sold half-price tickets to their home opener
— in their year-old park built with more than $500 million in
public funds — on Groupon. And you’d never see teams
like the Heat, Knicks and Thunder selling their tickets at a
discount just to get butts in the seats.

But Atlanta is historically considered a “bad” sports town
— which lost its NHL team last offseason — and in
February 2012,
Forbes
ranked
the Georgia capital city as the “most miserable
sports city in America.” Even the Braves are struggling to
draw, filling 65 percent of Turner Field over their first eight
home games despite having one of the best teams in the league.

Earlier this season, Hawks forward and Atlanta native Josh Smith
told the
New
York Daily News
that it’s “a little
difficult” playing in a town like Atlanta. If the current
LivingSocial special is any indication, Saturday’s crowd
won’t do much to change the soon-to-be free agent’s
mind.