NBA Finals: Oklahomans savor history, Miamians smell money

For once, it’s cheaper to be in Miami than Oklahoma City. Scalped Finals tickets cost less — because everyone is selling theirs online, creating a glut.

06/15/2012 5:00 AM

06/15/2012 7:46 PM

A gallon of gas in Oklahoma City costs a little over three bucks, a steak in the town’s best restaurant runs just $11, and 4,000-square-foot castles go for less than some South Beach efficiencies.

But if you want to catch an NBA Finals game without blowing the budget, the real value is in Miami.

That’s good news for bargain-hunting South Floridians, but you don’t have to be from South Florida to take advantage of the deals.

As the championship series shifts from the heartland to the sea Sunday for Game 3, there will be more than a few splotches of Oklahoma City blue among a blanket of Heat white in the stands. Thunder fans aren’t just here for the mojitos.

They came because it was far easier — and, shockingly, a bit cheaper — to score a ticket at the AmericanAirlines Arena than their hometown gym.

That’s because while Oklahomans see the NBA Finals as a historic opportunity, many South Floridians view the series as a chance to flip their tickets for big bucks like any other commodity.

“It’s pretty much impossible to get into a Finals game in Oklahoma City — we tried,” said Blake Boyd, a 25-year-old sales guy from the Sooner State. “It’s one of those things; you can’t put a price on it.

“So we decided to come show our support in Miami.”

Boyd, his wife Caylee and another couple spent a combined $1,260 for four scalped tickets to Sunday’s game, which sounds like a lot — but not compared to the prices in Oklahoma City. Boyd was willing to pay as much as $600 each for good seats to Game 1, he said, but had no luck. Instead, his group is taking a mini-vacation in Miami, where Finals passes are some 10 percent cheaper on the secondary market and where hotels are offering deep discounts to boost occupancy during the lean summer months.

Like anything else, it’s a matter of supply and demand. Even with the Three Kings, a Finals appearance just doesn’t have the same pop here as it does in Oklahoma City, where the Thunder — the only pro team in town — is making its first championship-round appearance since the franchise moved from Seattle in 2008.

On StubHub.com, fewer than 1,700 secondhand tickets were sold for Miami’s 100-96 Game 2 win in Oklahoma City, with an average price of $667. Compare that to Game 3 in Miami, where nearly 5,000 tickets (for an event held at a 19,600-seat venue) had been either sold or offered up on StubHub as of noon Friday. The average price: $616 — which will likely fall throughout the weekend due to the 2,000 tickets still listed for sale, said StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer.

A more telling gauge: The cheapest ticket to Game 2 was sold for $239; a pass to Game 3 in Miami could be had Friday for $175.

More than 5 percent of the Game 3 tickets sold on StubHub as of Friday afternoon had been snatched by residents of Oklahoma or Texas. For many, the trip will be their first visit to sunny, sultry and downright strange Miami, which couldn’t be more different than home. But for others, it’s as familiar as an old pair of boots.

The Oklahoma Sooners made the Orange Bowl their second home in the 1980s, appearing in the town’s historic bowl games eight times in 11 years. The Sooners last played in Miami in 2009.

Those on the fence about making the trip east might have been swayed by this weekend’s (relatively) cheap lodging. Boyd claims he’s paying less than $100 a night for a room on the beach. Usually pricey spots like the Fontainebleau are asking less than $250, while the downtown Miami Hampton Inn has a deal specifically for ticket-holders: $149 a night, with free drinks at the pre-game party. The biggest expense is airline tickets, which are all $500 and up from Oklahoma City to MIA.

John Kennedy, 58, is staying at the Sagamore on Collins Avenue with three of his five sons. Kennedy — Oklahoma’s former secretary of state — is a Thunder season-ticket holder and attended Games 1 and 2, but wanted more. They are flying in Tuesday afternoon for Game 4 (paying $700 each for prime seats), then staying until Thursday.

“We’ll be tourists for a couple of days,” Kennedy said. “It’s really historic for Oklahoma City. I’ve lived here all my life. I’ve never seen the city this excited.”

Or this expensive.

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