Evening, dukes and duchesses.
So I got a voicemail this afternoon from theticket office. The rep hinted at some ticket specials, noting how I had been to "a few games" the past season. Which amused somewhat, since I attended a rather precise 41 Bucks home games in 09-10. That includes the three first-round playoff games. But I only made it one game as a "fan." I actually was a fan at 41 games, but you know what I mean.
That one game? A pretty easy one against the hottest team in the league at the time, an early-April win over the Suns. A.K.A the darkest night of the year. Quiet as can be, it was like everyone in the Bradley Center tumbled onto the floor and lay motionless together when Bogut went down. The rest of the night was reserved for sunken-stomachly booing Amare, because we were so helpless and had to do something.
Then is it worse that I stood witness to that during my one game in the stands, or that of the merely three games I missed on press row one was this one?
So forget timing, I'll just be there this season.
But who else is with me? And does it really matter?
Game Six was a downer. But it wasn't just that; it was the highest high to the lowest low in 48 minutes flat. The Bradley Center danced and shook before tip. Like I had never known possible. Ultimately, there are two atmospheres: playoffs, and not-playoffs. When the Lakers come to town, it's all flashing lights, and when the Heat visit this season, arrive early.
But the thing about most of those five-star regular season tilts?
They pack the BC with Kobe jerseys, with love for LeBron, with Jesus Shuttlesworth ovations. It remains a home court advantage, the Bucks get more cheers in the end, but it's not so dramatic, it's sort of a weird and frustrating feeling for me. Kind of like when (United States of) Americans hope Team USA loses. The playoffs, though, are all "Josh Smith sucks" chants and straight up deer-fearing.
How much of that fanatical playoff enthusiasm will carry over to this regular season? The busy offseason certainly doesn't hurt, the Andrew Bogut questions certainly don't help, but in the end it might come down more to economics than anything else. Naturally, I come out of blogging-summbernation to address of all things, economic factors, because Frank isn't the expert on that by any means whatsoever or anything like that.
But this much is plain to mathematically see: Attendance fell at the Bradley Center fell to 15,108 (sidenote: official attendance and actual attendance are very, very different) last season. That marked the fourth straight year that attendance dipped for Bucks home games. In short, the Bucks were pulling in more than a thousand fans more per game as the Larry Krystkowiak "era" commenced than in last last year's dreamlike six months. The 2009-10 totals were the lowest since 1987-88... and the BC opened in 1988, so.
That follows though. Seems quite odd, but it follows, with one in seven Americans living in poverty, these are, well... not just "tough times." I am not privy to the team's ticket sales goings-on; maybe they are experiencing a real spike after all the on-court success. I hope. But I don't count on that. When Milwaukee is covered in ice and the are in town I will have conversations with you, wherever you might be seated.
That can be okay. While the idea of home-court advantage is hard to understand, it is very real, perhaps even in spite of attendance numbers. The Bobcats are the most confounding recent example; they had the starkest home/away split (.756 winners at home, .317 on the road) last year and also had one of the worst home crowds in the NBA. Charlotte finished just 22nd in attendance (15,824 average). So home-court advantage doesn't necessarily require big attendance numbers.
Squad Six is pretty unquantifiably fantastic. In any event, it's evidently not just about numbers. The Bucks won 28 home games compared to 24 for the comparably-talented Bulls, who led the NBA attendance. And they went 12-4 at the BC to close the regular season after acquiring John Salmons. The , fifth in attendance overall, didn't get too much of a boost in New York, New York (18-23), while the Grizz, 28th in attendance, did just fine in Memphis (23-18).
I would love to see the BC packed each and every home night. But then again, I only made it to one game as a fan, so I kind of get it, and it kind of might not matter: Wins have risen as attendance has fallen the past couple years.