The Phoenix Suns currently rank 24th in the NBA in home attendance, averaging 15,165 fans per game, which fills up about 82 percent of US Airways Center.
Though the team is the biggest surprise in the NBA with a 30-21 record and primed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010, the support just hasn’t been there through ticket sales.
But team president Jason Rowley says there has been an increase in attendance as the season has gone — especially in walk up sales — which shows how the Valley is warming up to the Suns.
“That gives you the indication of peoples’ immediate intent to buy and to come attend a game,” he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM as part of Newsmakers Week.
Strangely — and maybe disappointingly — the Suns, on average, are drawing fewer fans per game than they did in each of the last three seasons, even though the team failed to make the playoffs. And last year, while the Suns were on their way to winning just 25 games, the team drew an average of 15,436 fans per game, filling up 83.8 percent of the building.
It’s understandable if people were a bit reticent to just buy into what the team is doing now, but more and more it appears fans are jumping on the bandwagon.
Rowley, 42, is in his sixth season with the team but first as president, so he’s been around for some pretty high highs as well as some pretty low lows.
“There really is kind of a tipping point in this business when a team is performing better where all of a sudden all the anecdotal things you’re hearing with people coming up and telling you how exciting the team is and how excited they are for the season and how thrilled they are for how things are going, at a certain point it converts into an actual desire to come out to a game and come out and watch us, and that’s what we’re seeing now.”
Rowley pointed to the team’s last two home games — against the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors — and said those have been the two most-attended games of the season, with a combined 35,773 fans coming for those games. But, he added, the numbers had already been trending up.
But even though things are moving in the right direction, both at the box office and on the court, Rowley said it’s important the organization does not get complacent in any way.
“Even when you’re poised for success and even when you’re having success, the last thing you can do is take your fan base or your community for granted,” he said. “You still need to provide the best fan experience, you still need to give them a reason besides just what’s happening on the court to come out to the games.”