Does non-sellout for Wizards’ Game 6 make Washington a bad sports town?


(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The announced attendance for the Wizards’ 93-80 loss to the Pacers in Game 6 was 19,502, well short of the Verizon Center’s capacity of 20,356. Based on attendance figures listed in box scores from Washington’s previous trips to the postseason, it appears to be the franchise’s first non-sellout for a home playoff game since 1988, when 10,513 fans watched the Bullets defeat the Pistons in Game 4 of their first-round series.

Without smartphones and Twitter back then, we were denied photos and comments lamenting the large number of empty seats like the ones below. Some of these were featured in Dan’s Best & Worst.

Do the empty seats signify that Washington is a terrible sports town? I don’t think so, though I am surprised Game 6 wasn’t a sellout. NBA playoff tickets are expensive to begin with and I imagine the tickets available on the second-hand market for last night’s game were the most expensive of the playoffs. I can’t fault fans for choosing to watch from the comfort of their own home instead of dropping upwards of $100 on 400-level seats. Can any readers speak from experience?

This isn’t a new phenomenon in Washington, either. The 1978 NBA champion Bullets didn’t sell out a home game until Game 6 of their second-round series.

From Paul Attner’s game story after the Bullets closed out the Spurs:

The Washington Bullets had their first sellout crowd of the series standing and singing ‘Amen’ at Capital Centre last night after they pulled away from the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth period and advanced to the semifinals of the NBA playoffs.

The announced crowd for Game 6 in 1978 was 19,305. Games 3 and 4 drew 17,417 and 13,459 fans, respectively. I’d love to see photos of the upper level at the Capital Centre from those games.

Scott Allen writes about all things DC sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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