It is now two weeks since tickets for the Euroleague Final Four in Berlin went on sale. But we’re still waiting for a “sold-out” message. While in 2008, tickets were gone in just 72 hours, currently only the seats in the balcony part of the O2 World are gone. In the medium- to higher-price categories, there are still hundreds of seats to be sold. What are the reasons for this?
First of all, no home team has a serious chance to qualify for the Final Four. In 2008, Real Madrid was a contender for the semifinals and in 2007, Panathinaikos was the main favorite for Athens. Both events were sold out within a few days. A similar situation was last seen in 2006 in Prague, when no home team was even involved in the competition. At that time, the arena was only sold out just one week before the beginning of the event.
The second reason may be the fact that there are no clear-cut Final Four favorites with big fan bases. Neither Maccabi Tel Aviv nor the Greek teams are super confident right now about reaching Berlin. The previous years, you could see massive sales going to Israel or Greece at the moment of the ticket launch. This seems not to be the case this time. And CSKA Moscow fans are probably the only ones currently buying in the premium categories.
In times of financial crisis, price is another factor, of course. With tickets going for €120 to €1200 for floor seats, the Final Four is no bargain. If you go for the €120 ticket, however, four games at a price of €30 is great. But those tickets, as well as the €267 category, are already history. The minimum entrance fee still available is €399, or €100 per game.
Prices have risen sharply in comparison with previous years, too. In 2006, prices ranged between €70 and €1290; in 2007, the cheapest entry fee was €75 with premium tickets going for €500. In 2008, that minimum jumped to €100, with premium tickets selling for €500. So you see that this year, the cheapest category has risen by a further 20%, while premium ticket prices have increased an amazing 76% (from €500 to €883).
I totally appreciate what the Euroleague Final Four stands for, but these price increases seem too important to me. In the end, the O2 World will be sold out, but the Euroleague needs to think on this issue, especially if the Final Four ever goes to London.
Finally, an underestimated reason for low sales may be the date. Berlin inhabitants know what I am talking about but we heard that the Euroleague was not aware what May 1st means for the neighborhood around the O2 World. In previous years, May 1st in Berlin has meant riots. This has calmed down a bit recently, but the day is still used by a multitude of political parties and groups for demonstrations. The problem is that most of these meetings are typically held close to the Arena area and are generally surrounded by a massive police contingent to quell potential clashes between the different groups. We’ll see how this situation will be handled…