Why I don’t attend the games

Once upon a time, I was a Timberwolves season-ticket holder. I was excited to see what Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio could accomplish. The product on the court was entertaining and we had hopes of making the playoffs. I also was single, working full-time and still living with my parents, so I had some extra money to spend. I always dreamed of being a season-ticket holder, so once I was financially able to become one, I didn’t hesitate.

I knew that part of having season tickets was that you could resell some for profits. I quickly realized that the only profitable games were against teams that Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant on them. There were games were it was hard to even give away the tickets. But reselling some of the games helped alleviate the costs of having season tickets.

Being a season-ticket member has its perks. You get cool stuff for free. They throw in extra tickets every once in a while. They have nice events for season-ticket holders to attend. All in all, you feel important. I loved the experience. I would love to be a season-ticket holder again.

But the issue lay in the Wolves being a losing team. The most losing team actually. The Wolves have the longest playoff-drought in the NBA and the worst overall winning percentage of any other franchise. Attending the games can be fun. It loses excitement though when you see more losses than wins in the 41 games you have access to.

Since my departure of being a season ticket holder, I typically attend games if I get lower-level tickets for free. I will tap into my ‘consumer mind’ later, but that is my tipping point. From the Timberwolves’ perspective, this is the absolute worst state a consumer can be in. I am unwilling to pay for their middle-tier product. For me, I enjoy watching the game from the convenience of my home. I can multi-task. I don’t have to worry about parking. I can save money. I can also tweet live during the game. I ultimately don’t need to work my schedule around attending the game, I can fit it in.

This brings me to the importance of the consumer dollar for entertainment. The golden rule is, a consumer will only pay for a product they are willing to fit their schedule around. Entertainment dollars are different than your regular dollars. Consumers spend their regular dollars on things they absolutely need. These are things like food, rent, etc. After the consumer has factored in all of these expenses, they can choose to spend their money on entertainment. This is if they wouldn’t rather save it. That means, it has to be better than other entertainment options and saving it.

Minnesota is not an easy place to sell entertainment because there are a ton of options. First off, we are one of the few cities to have all major sporting teams along with a major college in the same area. Then factor in all of the other things to do for entertainment like the movies or the mall or the many arcade-like restaurants in Minneapolis. Add to that the fact that the team is losing and essentially not playing for anything.

For the four seasons I haven’t been a season ticket holder, I have had Timberwolves sales reps reach out to me constantly to push tickets down my throat when I don’t have an appetite. Reps that are not genuinely interested in my needs and wants as a consumer call me. They read a script about a package or season ticket price that is essentially at face value. They mask it by putting a limited time on the offer and throwing in another pair of tickets “for free.”

The approach I am absolutely in love with is what the Bucks are doing. They are selling a $150 dollar package that is good until the Bucks win 10 games. So that means, you are guaranteed a minimum of 10 wins for $150 dollars. That is amazing! The Wolves are selling a 5-game package for the same price, in the upper level.

It baffles me that the Wolves continue to use old marketing tactics to try to attract a crowd that is over attending games that mean nothing. The in-game experience has not changed in years. The games are often empty as well. You stick out like a sore-thumb if you are cheering loudly.

I have commented before on the lack of attendance at Wolves games. Things need to get better. The problem is, the approach the organization is taking hasn’t changed. Here are some suggestions:

  • Offer something similar to what the Bucks are offering. It is exciting. It is new.
  • Update marketing tactics used to attract fans. A great one is ‘gift giving’. Give fans that have a high-factor of converting to a package or season-ticket member free tickets. It will increase the odds that they actually convert.
  • Upgrade the in-game experience. The same sounds have been used in the Target Center for as long as I can remember. Please, fix it.
  • Get creative with offerings. All of the packages seem the same. Give me something that is interesting.
  • Rebuild the fan base along with the team. Start attracting kids to the games. They will be the ones that will be the next generation of season ticket holders.
  • Change the brand of the organization to be one that is innovative and willing to take risks. This is one thing the Milwaukee Bucks do great. See my review of their in-game experience when I attended here. 

What are your thoughts? This is a blog post that is mainly reactionary and because a twitter rant wasn’t enough.

The Timber Rebuilder.

 

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11th NBA Arena: Sleep Train Arena. Pelicans v. Kings

A quick stop in Sacramento during a road trip with my wife merited an 11th NBA arena visit to the Sleep Train Arena, better known as Arco Arena, home of the always-disappointing Sacramento Kings. The Kings took on the New Orleans Pelicans in a matchup that didn’t mean much this late in the season between two teams who won’t make the playoffs.

This is more than likely my final arena visit for the 2015-2016 season. I’ve gotten to see two other arenas this season in Milwaukee and Washington DC. You can also check out the rest of my visits here.

Arena 11: Sleep Train Arena, Pelicans vs Kings, 2016, Sacramento, CA ✔️


It was a late arriving crowd. Wednesday games are always hard for NBA teams to get good attendance for a game that didn’t mean much. The only exciting part in this one was getting to see Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis, the two centers who are better than Karl-Anthony Towns right now, go up against each other. Going into the game the Pelicans were 24-42 and the Kings 26-40. The game would end with the Pelicans killing the Kings 123-108.

A few game observations. Anthony Davis is impressive, that is obvious. I never paid attention to James Anderson of the Kings but he had a nice stroke from three. Speaking of nice strokes from three, baby Dirk aka Ryan Anderson couldn’t be stopped. He was splashing from every corner of Sacramento. It was also interesting to see Seth Curry get meaningful minutes with RajOn Rondo hurt for the Kings. I was trying to imagine him as a consistent NBA player and I couldn’t. He just didn’t seem to add much, but I am sure he will find his way around the league. He had 11 points off the bench for the Kings.

In terms of arena, Sleep Train Arena is in its final season of operation. The Kings are building a new stadium that prevented them from moving them to Seattle a few years back. The Kings have played 28 years here, a year longer than the Wolves have played in Target Center. There is a good amount of history between the Wolves and Kings in this building as they had epic playoff battles in the early 2000’s. One moment that sticks out is when Anthony Peeler elbowed KG in the face here. It was the definition of a traitor move.

As I walked around the arena, there was still remnants of those early 2000 Kings teams. There were tons of Bibby, Jackson, Webber, and Divac Jerseys. The older players even made appearances via video in the stadium. The old Kings were fun to watch, but for whatever reason it seemed like Kings fans were holding onto that glory. I even saw a lot of Tyreke Evans jerseys. Remember, he won Rookie of the Year and looked like he would be a super star at one point.

It was Latino Night at the stadium and it was done great, compared to what was displayed for Latino Night in Minnesota. The Kings displayed the diversity the Latino culture has and had lots of in game entertainment from a Salsa and Beso cam to mariachi bands. How the Timberwolves approached this night was laughable and likely would’ve been offensive had the Wolves had a larger Latino fandom.

Outside of that, the arena looked old. It had wood flooring around the stadium. The chairs were worse than the seats at the Metrodome. But you can’t be mad because it was their final season there. The fans were incredibly passionate once they arrived to the game. Lots of boos once it was half time and the Pelicans scored 74 points. Many fans stuck out the entire game regardless as the casual fans exited the building with 7 minutes left.

As I visit these, I think eventually I will start ranking my experiences. This will definitely be amongst the lowest. But I will develop a scoring system that will make it less subjective.

P.S. I posted this before finishing since I am on the road still. But I hope you enjoy!

 

The Timber Rebuilder.

10th NBA Arena: Bradley Center. Bucks v. Wolves

In a continuous journey to pay a visit to every NBA arena, there is the occasional low hanging fruit. Milwaukee isn’t far. I’ve also only been to Milwaukee a handful of times. But I finally got a chance to visit the Bradley center.

There are also the special occasions in which I can be the annoying fan cheering on my favorite team on the road. You cheer when no one else is cheering and you remain quiet when the crowd goes wild. You also get the pleasure of acknowledging your fellow wolves fans scattered around the arena with a head nod that translates to, “respect”.

Anyways, I always made it a point to only visit the Bradley Center if the Wolves were playing. And if finally happened. My wife and I drove out for 5 hours straight just to get crushed by the Bucks. If you’ve been following the blog, you may have seen this bucket list post about the NBA arenas that I have been. I also had the chance to visit the Verizon Center. As I visit more, I will categorize these together as ‘NBA Arena Visits’

Arena 10: BMO Harris Bradley Center, Timberwolves vs Bucks, 2016, Milwaukee, WI ✔️

The theme was 90’s night which was part of the Bucks’ flashback Friday campaign. I thought it was brilliant. It would’ve helped if the Bucks wore throwbacks to go with it, but everything else was nostalgic for any late 80’s baby. Kel was the in-arena host, they played double dare at half time, every player was associated with a 90s movie, and even Warren G performed a couple times. From a sports marketing perspective, it was lively and fun. The crowd was into it. I also got to wear my Wolves throwback jacket which was fitting for the theme.


Apart from the in-game experience, the fans were much different than what I encountered when cheering on the Wolves in Boston. Most people were really nice. A couple fans would ask me questions about the wolves. When the wolves got within 7 points in the 4th, I was being annoying. So when the Bucks pulled back away with the lead, one guy said something that I didn’t make out. It seemed like he was angry. But then he came and talked to me after the game and hoped I would enjoy Milwaukee.

Then to the game. It was crazy to see Towns score the first 11 points for the Wolves. But it was typical Towns fashion I thought, score a bunch right away and then spread it out the rest of the game. And if you looked at the box score you’d think that’s what happened. But the game was a waste of a 5 hour drive (not really, I loved the experience). Towns, Wiggins, and Rubio were benched early in the third quarter for the remainder of the game as a ‘message’ from Sam Mitchell.

Now, I get it. The Wolves defense was horrid. Hands would go up only after the shooter had completed his follow-through. There were times it was clear Middleton or Parker were going to shoot and Wiggins or Towns would just watch it happen. I get that. Sit them early in the third and send a message. But you have to eventually get them back in the game. It wasn’t over. The bench got the team into the game again but get your starters in at that point. Your bench is tired and can’t continue to compete at a high level.

Wiggins, Rubio, and Towns never got back into the game after they were taken out in the early 3rd. The funny thing was that LaVine would’ve been a casuality of this had he started the second half. LaVine got benched to start the second half but helped lead the charge back late in the 4th quarter.

I do not recall the Bucks’ biggest lead in the second half but it was well over 20. The Wolves got back within 7 after a three by Rudez. The bench showed good energy led by Shabazz and Zach but it wasn’t enough. Khris Middleton had his way with the Wolves. Greek Freak also was very impressive. It was crazy to see him run the point and be guarded by Rubio (lord help him) and then come back and guard Dieng or Towns in the first quarter. He is as versatile as they come. He nearly had another triple double after having one earlier this week. Jabari Parker and Plumlee were nice too.

As I mentioned on Twitter, this seemed like the beginning of the end for Sam Mitchell. I can’t imagine the starters playing their hardest for him anymore or vouching for him to be the coach next season.

Overall, a wonderful experience even though it was a loss. The Bucks have an exciting team once they figure it out. And I am 1/3 of the way to visiting every NBA arena. Visiting another next week. Which will it be?


The Timber Rebuilder.

9th NBA Arena: Verizon Center ✔️

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ve probably seen our bucket list to visit all NBA arenas in which we had previously visited 8 arenas. The 8 arenas were the Target Center, Madison Square Garden, the Rose Garden, Staples Center, TD Garden, Phillips Arena, the Amway Center,  and the United Center. Today, we got to visit the Verizon Center in DC.

Arena 9: Verizon Center, Wizards vs Kings, 2015, Washington D.C.

The venue was definitely lit and exciting. Fans were really engaged and supportive of the Wizards. We sat around a good amount of season ticket holders and they were cheering like the team was still good. They seem quite knowledgable about the game. They were excited to see some DC-products in Rudy Gay and Caron ‘Tuff Juice’ Butler come home and play, both went to UCONN. The chairs in the stadium were roomy and the stadium crew was constantly playing great background music. It also helped that there was a Dunkin Donuts in the stadium as my wife and I were fairly tired heading to the arena.

The NBA-wide marketing scheme of giving out something free in the fourth quarter if an opposing team player misses two consecutive free is pure genius. Just admiring it from a business-perspective. Fans definitely go crazy for some free Chic-Fil-A.

The Wizards were without Gary Neal and Bradley Beal in this one, so they needed someone to step up. Those guys were Martin Gortat and Garrett Temple. Gortat was huge in the first quarter. Temple provided much needed three-point shooting and defense. Kris Humphries has definitely developed a three-point shot as well. As much as I dislike the former Minnesota Gopher, he has found a way to extend his career in the NBA. The rookie Kelly Oubre Jr filled in well for the struggling Otto Porter. John Wall was definitely impressive posting a career-high 19 assists in the game.

Former Timberwolves included: Gary Neal, Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, Kosta Koufos, and head coach Randy Wittman. Did Martell Webster get released after his season ending injury? If not, add him to the list. All reminders of days that should be forgotten.

While at this game, the Wolves lost to the Celtics. Kevin Garnett did not play but received a standing ovation from the Boston fandom. Andrew Wiggins seemed to struggle early but had 26 points. The young Dream, Karl-Anthony Towns had a monster line: 25 points, 16 rebounds, & 3 blocks.

Reporting live from DC. The Timber Rebuilder.

A Life Bucket List: Visit Every NBA Arena (the Progress Thus Far)


As the preseason comes to a conclusion, many of us are predicting how our favorite teams are going to perform over the season. We are excited for sports channels to no longer be dominated by baseball highlights and football stories about Tim Tebow, Johnny Manziel, and Tom Brady. While I share these sentiments, something I started a few years ago always clouds my NBA preseason brain: what NBA Arenas can I attend this year?

I wanted to step aside from the Timberwolves analysis and give readers a look at myself personally, since well, this is a blog. Being a diehard basketball junkie, I decided at some point in college I wanted to experience a game in every NBA arena in the country. I started this thought when I was broke and the only means of travel was by car and throughout the Midwest. I would get a job after college with a technology consulting firm that would toss me on a plane every week to go to client sites. I spent about two years traveling around the country. As you could imagine, I was geeked to visit any city in the US that had an NBA team, in the winter. There was nothing more devastating than visiting a city that has an NBA team just to realize they don’t have a home game during your visit.

Disclaimer: I am not that far along through this bucket list. But I wanted to share the excitement and the stories of the journey thus far. Each have unique settings and each has grown my appreciation for the game in a different way. I will also share my thoughts on where I plan to go this season. Lastly, photos are from my Instagram so please don’t mind them.

Arena 1: Target Center, Timberwolves vs Knicks, circa 2000, Minneapolis, MN


As a Timberwolves fan, you never really forget your first game. I don’t remember exactly what year to be honest, but I remember the Wolves were playing my second favorite team, the New York Knicks. I got to see one of my all time favorite players Latrell Sprewell. I also got to see one of my favorite point guards in Charlie Ward and favorite centers in Marcus Camby. It was one of the most surreal feelings for a 5th grader. The one thing that sticks out the most of this experience was to not hear the TV announcers during the game. It was the most bizarre thing.

I would end up going to many more Timberwolves games over the next 15 years at the Target Center. I got to attend playoff games in the 2003-04 season, watch KG return to the Target Center, have season tickets one year, and then watch many sequences of rebuilding. Nonetheless, the Target Center would be the first arena I would ever attend and always hold a place in my basketball heart.

Arena 2: Madison Square Garden, Knicks vs Pacers, 2012, New York, NY


During a Alumni retreat with my Fraternity, I happened to be in New York in early April. I couldn’t convince anyone to attend the game with me and instead had a one of my Fraternity Brothers to go alone and enjoy the experience. So I downloaded the StubHub app and bought a ticket for $100 in the front row of the second level. I thought that was quite ridiculous, as to why I remember. But I got to speak to a season ticket holder of over 15 years and couldn’t believe how authentic the Knicks fans were. I had to ask the Knicks fans why they were so mean to players and their response was the most important thing they want out of their players is that they try hard. For whatever reason this statement stuck out to me and I am always reminded of it when I see the Knicks play.

Arena 3: The Rose Garden, Blazers vs Suns, 2013, Portland, OR


I scored some tickets for a game from my client at work and could not pass up it up. I went with a co-worker and we had pretty good seats. It was right when the Blazers decided to surprise everyone and become a good team. The stadium was beautiful and the crowd was really loud. The fans also seemed to be very excited to be there, something I am not used to seeing in Minnesota.

Arena 4: Staples Center, Lakers vs Spurs, 2013, Los Angeles, CA


Flew out to LA with some friends as I was switching companies. It was a last minute trip but decided to stop in LA on my way home to Minneapolis from Portland. Kobe was out with some injury but got to see the legendary Spurs. This experience was incredible nonetheless. The banners hanging in the Arena were magical. To know so many championships ran through that city and that team was crazy to think. The crowd felt divided between really rich and really into the lakers, not much in between. When the game was going on, it felt like an act or a movie being filmed.

Arena 5: TD Garden, Celtics vs Timberwolves, 2013, Boston, MA


Probably the best experience I ever had in another stadium thus far. Delta had a deal on flights to Boston and the Wolves were playing there during the time the deal was happening. I booked the tickets, stayed with my Fraternity Brother, and I got us some really nice tickets to the game, row 4 if I remember correctly. I packed up all of my Wolves gear and my friend and I cheered like crazy for the Wolves. I was surprised at home many Wolves fans were there honestly. But I was going crazy and lost my voice. The Celtics were terrible that year but the Garden was still packed and everyone really wanted a win. Avery Bradley as usual, torched the Wolves. I got into a few arguments with some Celtics fans, which was awesome. The game went down to the wire and the Wolves missed a shot at the buzzer to lose. There was definitely a foul that should’ve been called that costed the Wolves the game. But I hadn’t cheered on the Wolves that much since the playoffs. So after this trip, I am more interested in going to games when the Wolves are playing on the road.

Arena 6: Phillips Arena, Hawks vs Cavs, 2013, Atlanta, GA


Another alumni retreat and another game. This time, around 15 Fraternity Brothers came. The Hawks were a playoff team at this point and playing way above expectations. And the place was absolutely empty. The Hawks fans lived up to the hype of not supporting their team. The actual game wasn’t too memorable. The only thing I remember that I liked was the amount of restaurants in the Arena. I was a little bitter because this was actually my second attempt at going to Phillips Arena. The first time I bought tickets and the game was cancelled due to a snow storm. Just my luck. Glad I got this one off the bucket list.

Arena 7: The Amway Center, Magic vs Wizards, 2014, Orlando, Fl


On my last day at a client in Orlando, I bought myself a ticket and headed to downtown Orlando to catch a Magic game alone. The seat was alright and reasonably priced. I am a big fan of potential and there aren’t many more exciting teams potential-wise than the Orlando Magic. I got to watch Elfrid Payton, Oladipo, and Aaron Gordon all play. I had John Wall on my fantasy basketball team at the time and he absolutely dominated, which also was fun to watch. The Amway Center is one of the newer Arenas in the league (Opened in 2010) and it didn’t disappoint. It had minimal amounts of traffic but still seemed packed. It had a really cool rooftop in the stadium that I got to check out and see a nice view of downtown Orlando. I genuinely enjoyed the Amway Center.

Arena 8: The United Center, Bulls vs Pelicans, 2014, Chicago, IL


Ah. Saw the Michael Jordan Statue. Enter the historic United Center. The did an amazing job of preserving its history from its logo to the intro music to the announcers. Its a very nostalgic arena, knowing the greatest of all-time played there. I got to see the Chicago fans cheer on the hometown Anthony Davis as well. The fans were all die-hard and the entire stadium was packed. It was an experience that is pretty difficult to put into words. The tickets were ridiculously overpriced with respect to the other places I’ve been. It was pretty mind-blowing actually.

Future Plans: Personally, I am more of an impromptu kind of guy when it comes to travel. I don’t like setting plans too far out for things. I enjoy spur-of-the-moment trips. I have paid a little more attention to the schedule release so that I can make this bucket list happen. That said, I think the lowest hanging fruit at this point is visiting the Bucks, but they don’t play the Wolves until March. There is the possibility to catch the Wizards this year. Hopefully I can catch a couple more games elsewhere. The bucket list may be slowed a little bit simply because I no longer travel for work and am back in school. I will keep people posted on progress of the bucket list, with posts here. So please follow!

The Timber rebuilder.