Commissioner David Stern, a confessed optimist, said the NBA, like all businesses, has been forced to make adjustments in a down economy but called the league "relatively recession resistant.”
In his annual preseason "state of the union” teleconference on Friday, Stern said season-ticket renewal rates are at 76 percent, down only three percent compared to last year. New ticket sales are at the same rate as last season. Stern said it’s too early to project overall attendance. Stern, though, said arena capacity, based on number of tickets sold, should only suffer a slight drop-off from 92 percent to around 90 percent. He added group sales have gone well and sponsorships shouldn’t suffer a dramatic decline. "We think we’re going to be OK this year,” Stern said. "But we have to face the reality that joblessness has increased, mortgage foreclosures have increased and various markets are in difficult straits. But I think we will be viewed as relatively recession resistant... "(By freezing or reducing ticket prices in most markets) we expect a season of robust attendance, easily within our top five. But like everybody else we’ll have to fight our way through the season in respect to the economy.” Stern said the upcoming season, which tips off Tuesday night, will feature the best depth of talent during his tenure.