Over the past few seasons, the Houston Rockets have laid out a blueprint for how to transform from rebuilding to legitimate championship contender in a very short period of time. General manager Daryl Morey deserves a lot credit, signing Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik as restricted free agents, while trading for James Harden, drafting Chandler Parsons and signing Dwight Howard. The results don’t just show up in the win column, they also show in demand for tickets on the secondary market. Since the 2011-12 season to now, the average price for Houston Rockets tickets at the Toyota Center have risen 49 percent.
In the 2011-12 season, the Rockets finished with a 34-32 season during the lockout-shortened season. In that 66-game season, the team had no standout star with Kevin Martin leading the team in points and Kyle Lowry tops in PER. The average price for a home ticket on the secondary market was just $76.15.
The following offseason Morey got to work, signing Lin and Asik and trading for Harden from Oklahoma City. When the trade was made, Harden wasn’t the star he is today. That’s happened in part because the Rockets set up a system in which Harden could thrive, which is exactly what he’s done. Morey and head coach Rick Adelman built a system that stressed efficient shots and three pointers. The new system made the Rockets first in the League in pace, possessions per 48 minutes and scoring. Despite all that progress, they lost in the first round of the Playoffs to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but getting to the Playoffs, even as an 8-seed, was a step in the right direction. Amidst that success, the average ticket price jumped to $87.04, up 14 percent over the previous season.
This past offseason, the Rockets filled the superstar void and signed Dwight Howard as a free agent. The prospect of joining Howard with Harden on top of the previous season’s playoff appearance shot the average price of Rockets tickets up to $113.41, a 39 percent increase from 2012-13 and up 49 percent from 2011-12. Based on the increase in prices on the secondary market, and Toyota’s center’s capacity of 18,000+, Howard has generated over $20 million in secondary market value. Coincidentally, that number is right in line with the annual value of his contract, at $22 million.
With the boom in average price on the secondary market, primary market Rockets tickets have become a good deal when the games aren’t sold out. In particular, the primary market for the March 4 game against the Heat offers a better deal in the lower corner sections 124 and 111 at $160 per ticket. On March 7, Upper Sideline tickets can be had for just $60 against the Indiana Pacers. Two days later, the get-in price against the Portland Trail Blazers is below the secondary market at just $20 for upper level tickets. The Rockets also have two big games in April against the Thunder on the 4th, featuring lower corner tickets below secondary prices at $275, and against the San Antonio Spurs on the 14th with upper sideline tickets available for just $79.