The Atlanta Hawks New Perspective

Samantha Dewig
By Samantha Dewig
She is a frequent contributor for Global Basketball and currently works in athletic communication at Georgia Tech. Samantha has work for Indiana University and the Big Ten Network
Twitter @SamanthaDewig

ATLANTA, Ga. – It’s Saturday night in downtown Atlanta and there are a million things going on in the city. The Atlanta Hawks are taking on the worst team in the league, the Philadelphia 76ers, and Phillips Arena is … full.

I moved to Atlanta from Indiana in late September. Growing up in the basketball mecca, I knew I would have to get used to football being king down south. However I still couldn’t believe when the first pre-season game rolled around and I was one of maybe just a couple hundred in the entire arena.

Tickets were dirt cheap. The team had just returned from season where they almost upset the number one team in the East during the playoffs. T.I. was there! Yet hardly anyone else was.

I was told that it was going to be that way all season. That honestly no one in the city of Atlanta really cared much about the Hawks. I was even told that if you ever saw someone in Hawks merchandise walking down the street, there was a 90% chance they worked for the team, because no one really bought that stuff.

I was in attendance at three Hawks games before Christmas break, and yeah, they were right, not a lot of people showed up.

After Christmas, you would have thought Michael Jordan was coming out of retirement for these games.

For a long time sports GMs have been asking themselves, does winning games necessarily translate into more money? On one hand you have to balance out the cost of much higher salaries, not only for players, but for coaches and staff as well. Are people going to purchase that many more tickets than they would have if the team were, say an eight seed in the East?

As on tonight, against a team of zero super-star players no-less, the Atlanta Hawks have now sold-out 10 of their last 12 games. Their win against Oklahoma City on Jan. 23 tied the highest-rated regular season game ever on Fox Sports South.

Viewing on FSSouth has been up 54% this year alone. The NBA’s best team has attendance up by over 2,200 fans per game from last season. The popularity of Hawks games among the millennial television audience is particularly high, as viewership among fans in the 18-34 year-old demographic has increased by 196% from last year.

“What the Hawks continue to accomplish on the court is truly amazing and they deserve the full support of the Atlanta community, whether it’s turning out at Philips Arena or following the team on SportSouth,” said Jeff Genthner, senior vice president and general manager, FOX Sports South. “The historic ratings from the games in prime time on Friday night clearly indicate the Hawks have become appointment viewing.”

I walk around town and I see more Hawks gear than Falcons merchandise. Some people are complaining that everyone is bandwagon-ing this team, but as a girl from Indiana, nothing makes me happier than seeing the SEC capitol of the country turning into a basketball city.

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