If You Live In LA, It’s Cheaper To Fly To Atlanta For An NBA Game Than To Watch A Lakers Game In Los Angeles

Photo Credit: Atlanta Hawks

If You Live In LA, It’s Cheaper To Fly To Atlanta For An NBA Game Than To Watch A Lakers Game In Los Angeles


Before the start of this season, the Atlanta Hawks announced that they will start having fan-friendly concession prices for the 2018-2019 NBA season.

Food and beverage prices were dropped by 50%. The new prices include $5 beers, $1 chips, candy, pretzels and bottled water for $2, $3 Fries, hot dogs and nachos as well as $4 pizza, bottomless popcorn and bottomless soda.

Sure, the Hawks definitely won’t have a chance of reaching the playoffs this season, but they have an interesting mix of players. Rookie phenom Trae Young and the greatest dunker of all-time, Vince Carter, both are playing for the Hawks, which is worth visiting games by itself.

Hawks CEO Steve Koonin said:


“The undeniable success of Fan First pricing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the incredible experience of The Masters set terrific precedents and built demand from our fans to add value menu pricing that complements the wide assortment of premium food options introduced by our Executive Chef Joe Schafer. We are thrilled to respond to our fans in this way and will continue listening to the fans to enhance their experience.”



Back when this was made public, NBA reddit made one of the best observations and calculations I’ve ever seen: If you’re living in Los Angeles, it would indeed be cheaper to fly to Atlanta to go to a game than to attend a Lakers game in Los Angeles.

Redditor LarryLevis calculated it carefully:


Average Flight prices from Kayak, we will assume tickets are bought reasonably in advanced, not on holiday weekend, etc, so they hit those costs.

Game Tickets

Average ticket prices are going to be hard to estimate. But here we go…

Earliest data I have for the Lakers and Hawks is 16-17 season. Lakers were terrible and didn’t have Lebron and it cost $139/ticket on average. Hawks were ok and came off a relatively good season so likely were boosted a bit by season ticket holders buying in the previous year. Average cost was $57/ticket. Economy has been great so we will assume the economy has held up the tickets from dropping a ton, let’s assume Hawks tickets go for $50 on average the 18-19 season.2013-14 Cavs tickets cost $47/ticket. 14-15 tickets cost $195 on average, which resulted in a +$148 increase and 314% increase YOY. The Lebron bump on the Lakers is actually looking closer to the % increase rather than the dollar increase. Not a great example but opening game tickets are going for $425 to GET IN. In 2017-18, the Lakers’ Oct. 19 opener vs. the Los Angeles Clippers featured StubHub tickets for as low as $60.

Let’s assume ticket costs are on average $139*314% = $436/game

Other Assumptions

  • Travel to and from arenas net out – public transit looks to be pretty convenient @ 30m and cheap @ $2.50 per 3 hour ride on MARTA to get to Philips Arena from the Airport.
  • Parking will be fucked for Lakers games but will also be fucked at LAX. We’ll assume these net out even though LAX is likely cheaper than Laker game parking
  • No concessions included in calc
  • Food you eat in atlanta outside of the game cost the same as what you would eat in LA.
  • Time it takes to get there is not a cost to you

The Calculation

Assuming the flights are the only fluctuations which won’t be true since a team like the Lakers or Warriors for instance will adjust the ticket prices but let’s roll with it:

ATL Game MIN = $210 + $50 ticket + $72 hotel (average) = $332

ATL Game MAX = $299 + $50 ticket + $72 = $421

Average LAL game = $436

LAL is more expensive without including concessions. You save $15 to $104 before concessions so up to 20 beers (or chip @104, candy @52, hot dog@33, Pizza at 26 or any combination) can be basically free

tl;dr there are a lot of variables going on but yes, if properly planned and the Lebron ticket bump holds flying roundtrip from LA to ATL, getting a hotel and watching the game will be cheaper on average. This did not include concessions.


Just think about how ridiculous and funny at the same time that is. You can fly across the whole nation, transfer to the arena and back, watch a game, have food, stay in a hotel and fly back, for less money than it might cost you to watch a game a couple of miles away from your home.

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