NBA Opening Week: Best & Worst Games for Traveling Fans
As the NBA's return at the end of the October edges closer, basketball enthusiasts from across the world are looking forward to seeing their team in action. And for fans in the U.S. lucky enough to be able to see them play in person, the excitement is unparalleled.
But what about the loyal traveling fans who are willing to go to every corner of the country to support their team? These committed disciples are the heartbeat of the league, turning ordinary away games into lifetime memories, especially if their team can claim the coveted W! And as the NBA's return approaches, we've undertaken a mission of our own, to discover and celebrate the Best & Worst NBA Week 1 Games for Traveling Fans.
By The Numbers
Gambling.com has meticulously measured the costs of game tickets, accommodation, and food and drink at the arena for each team’s first away game -- while also considering the distances these dedicated travelers must cover. The result? A definitive ranking that reveals the most and least fan-friendly away games in the regular season’s opening week, showing which cities and arenas are the best for NBA fanatics to follow their teams to, as the curtain rises on the new season.
New Orleans Pelicans fans have the most favorable opening away game of the season, with their trip to Memphis to face the Grizzlies topping the ranking with a Final Score of 87.2 out of 100. Followers of the Louisiana team can avail of some of the cheapest tickets, accommodation, and arena food & drink across the study, while still having one of the shorter distances to travel (393 miles). All they need is a good performance and positive result from their team for the perfect away day!
Not far behind in #2 are the traveling Atlanta Hawks fans. Their game against the Charlotte Hornets in North Carolina has an overall 86.3 rating. Hawks fans must travel the third shortest distance to watch their team (244 miles), while also having among the cheapest tickets, accommodation, and sustenance in their destination city and arena.
Traveling supporters from the U.S. Capital’s NBA franchise rank #3 when it comes to their first away game of the regular season. The Wizard’s game against the Pacers in Indianapolis has some of the most budget-friendly tickets, hotels and arena food and drink costs among the opening games -- but their 579 mile trek brings down their average/final score, which is still a strong 85.4 out of a possible 100.
Dallas Mavericks traveling fans going to see their game against the San Antonio Spurs are #4 (72.5), while Houston Rockets fans going to Florida to watch their team square off against the Orlando Magic are #5 (68.2).
At the other end of the fan-friendliness scale, the Miami Heat’s trip to face the Celtics in Boston is the worst game for their traveling support. On top of a 1,000+ mile journey for any fans who want to attend the repeat of last season’s Conference Semi-Final -- they will also have to pay some of the highest accommodation, food and drink, and ticket prices across the opening NBA games. All these analyzed factors culminate in a Final Score of only 7.8 out of a possible 100. Would it be worth it if their team emerged victorious just like last year?
The Los Angeles Lakers October 24th game against reigning NBA champions the Denver Nuggets is the #2 most difficult for away fans to attend. Although accommodation costs for the night of the game receive a pass mark, the ticket cost, arena food and drink prices, and distance supporters would have to travel result in a final rating of 22.5.
Boston Celtics fans are next in #3, with their game against the New York Knicks receiving a Final Score of 25.9. Their ticket and hotel costs are the most expensive in all the games analyzed, with the arena’s food and drink prices not far behind -- with the only saving grace for Celtics fans being the relatively short distance they’ll have to travel to see the action.
Spurs fans traveling to the West coast to watch their team face the Los Angeles Clippers is #4 (31.1), while Cleveland Cavaliers supporters going from Ohio to the Big Apple to see their game against the Brooklyn Nets, is #5 (32.8) in the fan difficulty stakes.
One of the main considerations for fans when it comes to attending games -- if not the main consideration -- is the financial cost. So, taking distance out of the equation, Gambling.com also investigated the standalone prices for traveling fans attending their team’s first away game of the season.
The results largely correlate with the tables shown above -- Pelicans fans are still the best off even when it comes purely to finances. Wizards away fan costs are second lowest, while Hornet supporters going to see their team in Houston will see the third smallest hit to their wallets -- when travel isn’t considered.
This part of the study could be useful to fans living in other locations, particularly those closer to their team’s first away NBA game of the regular season, as opposed to its home city or state.
- Gambling.com ranked the most fan-friendly away games for each team in the NBA’s opening week by measuring these four data points:
- Distance to travel: Driving distance on the shortest route, taken from Google Maps.
- Cost of accommodation: A two-person double room at a 3* hotel, on the night of the game - taken from Booking.com.
- Cost of stadium food & drink: The combined cost of a 16 oz beer, 20 oz soda & hot dog -- taken from a Bookies.com study.
- Cost of ticket: Cheapest resale ticket available - taken from Vivid Seats.
- All four data points were measured out of 100 using the PERCENTRANK formula, and an average was found to create a ‘Final Score’. The fixtures were ranked from highest to lowest final score -- with higher better for fans.
- Inverted calculations were used for all four data points, so that a lower cost/distance equaled a better score.
- All data was collected and correct on 09/11/2023.
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