“Two dozen,” Fadul guessed.
He gets why people aren’t flocking to 413 to see the Wizards, one of the National Basketball Association’s worst teams, at 4-18 entering Friday’s game in Toronto. “This is a frustrating team to watch,” said Fadul, 29, who works for an intellectual-property law firm in the District. “Very frustrating.”
But there’s a funny thing about the manifest misery of the Washington Wizards: They’re selling more tickets this season than last, when they were bad, but not this bad.
Average attendance for home games — measured by tickets sold, not tickets used — is up, albeit just barely: Exactly 48 more per game, according to the team.
Most of the ultra-premium courtside seats (face value: $850 to $2,500 per ticket per game) have sold out, and overall season ticket sales are up by about 20 pecent, to more than 8,000.
The majority were sold before the lockout-truncated season began. But despite the team’s odious play and the depressed resale market for Wizards tickets (some mezzanine seats have been resold for much less than the $16 Fadul paid for each of his), Fadul not only plans to renew his season tickets, but he wants better, more expensive ones.
“It [stinks] that seats are selling for like $3 and $5, but I like being a season-ticket holder,” he said. “I regretted doing season tickets when we were in that losing streak. But we’ll get better.”
Optimism is the lifeblood of professional sports fandom in the District, where winning is the exception. That’s particularly true among fans of the Wizards — the team has lost nearly three-quarters of its games since it last made the playoffs, in 2008, yet fans are aggressively selling the promise of better days . . . eventually.
The team with the second-fewest wins in the league over the past four seasons is amid a multi-year rebuilding process that majority owner Ted Leonsis insists can do for the Wizards what a major makeover did for his Capitals, who are anything but afterthoughts in the National Hockey League.
But the process will be painful, Leonsis cautioned early and often. The young Wizards opened this season with eight consecutive losses.
After a humiliating defeat in Philadelphia last week, the franchise fired head coach Flip Saunders, giving the 2011-12 Wizards the temporary distinction of having as many head coaches as wins, with two of each.
Still, in Ted they trust. At least for now.
“There could be problems [selling tickets in future seasons] with the way the team is performing, but people are willing to give Leonsis a chance,” said sportsmarketing consultant Bill Sutton, who works with multiple NBA teams, although not the Wizards. “If you like the owner, you’re going to give him more sway. And the Washington market is in love with Ted Leonsis. People have an unbelievable amount of faith in him.”