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,

href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomvanriper/2012/02/28/americas-most-miserable-sports-cities/">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

href="http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/nets/2013/03/josh-smith-discusses-the-nets-free-agency-the-difficulties-of-playing-in-atlanta">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.