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Should You Buy Season Tickets to See LeBron James?

Now that the Cleveland Cavaliers have made a much sooner-than-expected exit from the NBA playoffs, the big question for sports fans is this: Is LeBron James coming to an arena near you? And should you "invest" in a season ticket just in case he does? Already, the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls, two of the favorites to land LeBron, are reporting sharp increases in sales of season tickets for next year.

Aside from the Knicks and the Bulls, the Miami Heat and LeBron's current team, the Cavs, are also in the running to retain the services of King James. And it's not just the teams -- it's the cities that want a piece of LeBron, who's exciting on the court, popular with fans, and appealing to advertisers, too. President Obama even weighed in, through his top advisor (and former Bulls season ticket holder) David Axelrod: "He doesn't want to tamper, but as a Chicago fan, the president thinks LeBron would look great in a Bulls uniform," Axelrod said.

Before dropping some cash on the chance that LeBron will be playing near you next season, here are a few points to consider:

  • Check out the odds. The oddsmakers are betting that James stays put with in Cleveland. Here are recent odds quoted by Cleveland, 2 to 3 (meaning you'll need to bet $3 to win $2); Chicago, 2 to 1; New York, 5 to 2; and Miami, New Jersey, and San Antonio, all 15 to 1. Long shots include Sacramento, 20 to 1; Dallas, 25 to 1; Houston, 30 to 1; and Detroit, 40 to 1.
  • Read the tea leaves. LeBron grew up in Ohio and some say his heart is still there. But, hey -- James reportedly called Bulls guard Derrick Rose to say he would welcome the opportunity to play together. And hey, New Yorkers, there's something for you, too -- LeBron is a lifelong Yankees fan! And a friend of Knicks superfan Jay Z! (Of course, Jay Z is a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets, so there's that to consider, too). It's probably a good idea to keep up on the latest NBA news and rumors over the next few weeks.
  • Weigh the ticket prices. You can buy season tickets for the LA Clippers for about $9 a game, or $396 -- that may not seem like such a big gamble, but of course, the chances of the Clippers landing LeBron are pretty slim. By contrast, it will cost you more than six times that amount, or $2,464, to get the lowest-priced season tickets for the New York Knicks next year. Season ticket prices for other favorites in the LeBron Derby are as follows: Cleveland Cavaliers $1,276 ($29 a game); Chicago Bulls, $1,575 ($34 a game); and the Miami Heat $1,075 ($25 a game).
  • Think about how much fun you'll have. The bottom line, of course, is whether or not you really like to go out and watch basketball. There's a lot of new research behind the idea that experiences and events result in more lasting happiness than stuff that you buy. So sure, if you enjoy the game, pick up a season ticket now, while they're available. And if LeBron shows up to play, consider it your own personal signing bonus. Just try not to blow your profits on beer and brats.
Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr.
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