Jonathan Marcoulides was sitting in front of his computer Saturday morning, ready to go when NBA Finals single-game tickets went on sale.
By 9:45, 15 minutes before the sale began, the Tulsa man had the ticket site brought up and his credit-card information entered.
He wanted to take his 15-year-old daughter Paige, who lives in Blanchard, to Thursday's Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
“I hit ‘any seat available' and the computer clock hadn't even hit 10:01 and there were no seats left,” Marcoulides said. “I wanted to take her but wasn't going to pay $600 to do it. We'll have a nice dinner and appetizers and watch it on TV.”
The fact that the available tickets were gone in 60 seconds Saturday morning is just the latest measure of the passion sweeping across the state — and the insatiable ticket demand for the Oklahoma City Thunder's debut in the NBA Finals.
Game 1 against the Miami Heat, set for 8 p.m. Tuesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, will mark the Thunder's 64th consecutive sellout. If you don't already have a ticket, you're going to need good fortune — or a small one.
Prices are soaring on the so-called secondary ticket market. At OklahomaTickets.com on Sunday afternoon, prices for Game 1 ranged from around $377 for a single seat high in Loud City to more than $5,000 for a front-row seat in the lower bowl — not on the floor — where multiple seats were available together.
“The demand is huge and the supply is very limited,” Scooter Proctor of OklahomaTickets.com said. “Normally during the regular season, people will sell off half their seats or partner up with someone and they'll get rid of 1/3 of them.
“Nobody's releasing anything for this series.”
StubHub.com, which connects ticket sellers with buyers, has seen a similar dynamic. As of Sunday afternoon, the site offered around 800 tickets for Games 1 and 2. For the games in Miami, there were more than 2,000 available.
The result has been higher prices for the games here.
StubHub.com's Joellen Ferrer said the average ticket price for Game 1 was more than $700, with a low price of $250. For Game 2, the average is $827.
StubHub's highest demand game in Oklahoma City during the regular season came March 25 when Miami visited. Tickets for that game averaged $202.
Average prices for Game 4 in Miami are “just” $472.
Absent that kind of cash, it will take good fortune to get inside the Peake. As it has since arriving in Oklahoma City, the Thunder will give away or sell the final 200 tickets in the Thunder Rewards Zone before each home game of the Finals.
Fans can register beginning four hours before tipoff. Ninety minutes before tipoff, the drawing begins. The first 25 winners will receive a free set of tickets with the next 75 having the chance to purchase a pair of tickets for $30 each
Approximately 1,000 people entered the last drawing, held before Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
Thunder season-ticket holders account for more than 14,000 of the Peake's seating capacity of 18,203, which will be reduced some to make room for additional media seating — mostly for international media.
As a result, approximately 350 season-ticket holders had to be relocated. Affected fans were given complimentary tickets, according to one ticket holder who had to be moved. The team called fans individually to tell them of the switch.
“It does disrupt some of our fans,” said Dan Mahoney, Thunder vice president for communications and community relations. “But it's something that comes with the Finals. It's all for the exposure of Oklahoma City and the team.”
Ferrer said prices for last year's NBA Finals between Dallas and Miami were a bit less than this year's because there were more tickets available on the secondary market in each city.
“It's just supply and demand,” Ferrer said. “There's quite a bit of excitement in Oklahoma City right now since the team hasn't been here since they moved.”
The Thunder recommends fans looking for tickets use the Thunder TicketExchange, where the team facilitates fan-to-fan transactions.
“We think it's the safest way for fans to get tickets,” Mahoney said. “We know who the person selling the ticket is and it's been verified. They're totally taking their chances if they go another route.”
The program has been helped by an April ordinance passed by the Oklahoma City Council that removed caps on how much could be charged for tickets above face value and created a buffer zone around Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Mahoney said counterfeit tickets haven't been a huge issue. However, they have had a few instances of fake tickets being sold or of a print-from-home ticket being copied and the same ticket being sold to multiple people.
“It's the largest event ever,” Proctor said. “Everybody talks about the '71 Nebraska-OU game. That was probably $75 a ticket. There's never been anything like this year.
“We're seeing families of four that are paring $18,000 to get into a game. I remember in 1982, I sold a pair of tickets for OU-Texas for $1,000 and I though that was crazy.”