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NBA avg ticket price falls for 1st time in 8 years

CHICAGO, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The average price for a ticket to a National Basketball Association game fell for the first time in eight years as the weak economy continued to affect U.S. sports leagues.

The average price fell 2.8 percent to $48.90, the biggest drop ever for the league and the first decline since the 2001-2002 season, according to Team Marketing Report, or TMR. It was the second-biggest decline behind the National Hockey League’s 7.5 percent drop for the 2005-2006 season following a season-long lockout.

In 2001-2002, the NBA cut ticket prices by 2.3 percent. That was before TMR started separating tickets into general and premium categories. This year’s decrease is only for general tickets, which do not include amenities.

None of the other three major North American sports leagues showed a decline in 2009 ticket prices. The NHL was up just 0.1 percent, the National Football league was up 3.9 percent and Major League Baseball, thanks to two new parks in New York, posted a 5 percent increase.

In the NBA, 14 teams had price declines, while 13 kept them unchanged, TMR said. The Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Hornets were the only teams with increases.

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers repeated as the team with the highest average at $93.25, TMR said. The Boston Celtics were second at $68.55, while the Memphis Grizzlies had the lowest average at $24.10. All three left prices unchanged from last year.

The biggest declines were at the Indiana Pacers (down 29.5 percent to $30.02) and the New Jersey Nets (down 19 percent to $44.51), TMR said.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s Fan Cost Index (FCI) -- the average cost for a family of four to attend a game, and buy two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, two game programs and two caps, as well as pay for parking -- declined 1.4 percent to $289.87, TMR said. (Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Dave Zimmerman)