The Houston Rockets rank No. 6 among the 30 NBA teams in “fan cost index” (FCI), according to a new study of the 2021-22 regular season by business intelligence firm Team Marketing Report (TMR).
The FCI measures costs such as tickets and concessions for a family of four to attend a regular-season NBA game. At Toyota Center, that came out to an average of $565.52, according to TMR’s research.
The five teams pricier than Houston are the Chicago Bulls ($570.50), Boston Celtics ($596.11), Los Angeles Lakers ($711.76), Golden State Warriors ($740.08), and New York Knicks ($936.72).
Understandably, as shown by the presence of the Knicks and Lakers in the top three, these rankings are more correlated with market size than on-court play. On the other end of the spectrum, the Memphis Grizzlies ($258.24) and Minnesota Timberwolves ($298.80) were two of the three cheapest teams, even though both made the 2022 NBA playoffs.
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States. Thus, even in a year where the Rockets had the league’s worst record (20-62), that largely accounts for the club’s top-10 placement in the cost index.
Even so, Houston’s average costs at Toyota Center rose by only 0.9% year on year, which is among the NBA’s lowest annual bumps. That can likely be attributed to the current on-court performance.
Per ESPN’s attendance tracker, the Rockets averaged 15,584 fans for each home game and filled an average of 86.3% of arena capacity. That ranks No. 21 in the NBA down from 100.1% and a No. 7 ranking in the most recent season with full-capacity crowds allowed (2019-20).
Back then, of course, the Rockets were still a perceived title contender and had the presence of perennial MVP candidate James Harden to draw fans. In 2022, that is no longer the case. While that may not be enough for ticket prices to outright drop, given the market size, it does seem to be putting prices in a holding pattern for the time being.