Thursday, February 4, 2010

Cavs Season Ticket Holders Have to Bet on LeBron's Free Agent Decision By March

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2010 at 2:10 PM

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As Tony Rizzo discussed with Brian Windhorst on ESPN 850 WKNR this morning, the Cavs are asking season ticket holders to renew or get off the pot by March — well before July, when we'll find out for sure whether LeBron is staying or fleeing. Windhorst said this isn't anything new; it's regular practice by the Cavs to do so at this time. The Cavs also know supply and demand is on their side. Plenty of optimistic fans will buy season tickets if the pessimistic fans pull out of their seats.

For fans, however, it's not an enviable situation to be in. If you're holding on to a prime seat location, you're gladly going to plunk down your cash if it involves watching the best player on the planet ply his trade for the next three or more years. If the future is Jawad Williams and JJ Hickson, probably not so much.

Renewal rate by March might be a good barometer of how many fans in Cleveland think the King is going to re-up with the Wine and Gold, but it's a gamble even if you think locking up your seat is a no-brainer if you get LeBron for the foreseeable future.

I'm not going to get into the Will He or Won't He game. Listing reasons why LeBron might resign with the Cavs or why he's destined to play somewhere else is one of the silliest pageview grabbing exercises out there, especially when even the most plugged-in guys around the NBA have no definitive answer on what LeBron will do or what he's factoring into his decision. For the record, however, I think he'll stay in Cleveland. Windhorst also said he thinks LeBron will stay, though also said he wouldn't bet his house on it — a safe move by Windy, I think.

We all know LeBron's decision is going to have a fairly significant impact on the fair Forest City. The famous "Our economy's based off LeBron James" line from the Cleveland tourism videos isn't that far off from the truth. From the roster to the front office, from the restaurants around the Q to those that make their living selling tickets in secondary markets, whatever LeBron decides to do in June is going to effect a ton of people in and around this city.

It was just about a month ago when the Cavs were recognized by the league as one of the most successful teams in season ticket sales. For the first time since the league started tracking the numbers, the Cavs had more than 10,000 season tickets sold for the season — they were one of eight teams to do so. A new benchmark was also set by the league this year: 2,000 new season ticket sales for the season, and the Cavs were one of the few teams to accomplish that goal as well. In addition to those rare successful numbers during a year for the league that has seen multitudes of teams suffer from lagging attendance and continuing economic woes, the Cavs were also one of three teams to have a 90% retention rate for season ticket holders.

They're currently second in the league in average home attendance with 20,562 (they're second in the league in average road attendance as well, with 19,023).

It goes without saying that a future sans LeBron would be devastating to the Cavs attendance. Cleveland was 29th out of 29 teams the year before the King's arrival. While that team was a season-tanking catastrophe, a LeBron-less Cavs is closer to a lottery team than a legitimate playoff team. Add in the crushing emotional blow of losing yet another superstar from the shores of the Cuyahoga and the Cavs might set a new record for non-renewal of season tickets in a few years.

Follow me on Twitter: @vincethepolack.

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