Home sweet home?

 

How loud does Joe Johnson have to holler before someone shows up to see the Hawks rock the house at Philips Arena?

How loud does Joe Johnson have to holler before someone shows up to see the Hawks rock the house at Philips Arena?

HAWKSVILLE -  Ask Joe Johnson the difference between the Hawks at Philips Arena and elsewhere and he’ll give you a simple answer.

“This is home for us and we have to act like it,” he said. “So we’re feeding off our fans like anybody would in this situation. Our crowd is where we get our energy. That’s what’s fueling us right now. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

A 25-7 home record can be improved to 26 tonight with a win over Sacramento. That would push the Hawks’ record on their current seven-game home stand to 6-0, one win away from matching the seven they piled up (with just one loss) during a December home stand they used to vault to a 21-10 start to this season.

Still, it’s hard for me to imagine Johnson bragging about the home crowd when there have been so many empty seats lately. So this is what home sweet home looks like?

It’s strange, for all the bellyaching that’s gone on (here and elsewhere) about wanting a legitimate NBA team to root for in this town, it seems few people are actually willing to venture out to Philips Arena to see it in person.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking anyone that roots from afar. In these economic times, watching the Hawks in HD from the crib is every bit as righteous as showing up for games. If the choice is making your car payment or buying those Hawks tickets, there’s really no choice. And unlike Polow Da Don, Jeezy, Dream, Ciara and all the other A-listers that show up most every night, funds for things like Hawks games are limited these days.

It’s just that there have been sellouts for certain teams and then crickets for others. Again, nothing out of the ordinary when the Hawks were a laughingstock. I just thought it would change now, with them being a legitimate playoff team.

Polow and Jeezy are down with the Hawks ...

Polow and Jeezy are down with the Hawks ...

The Hawks have had just nine sellouts this season. They are averaging 16,494 fans, which is impressive when some of the league’s stalwarts (Detroit and Sacramento) are struggling to put fannies in the seats. I guess I just expected more with all the chatter about wanting a big time team to fit a city that felt it was so deserving.

I’m sure this conversation will be useless next week, when the Celtics and Lakers are in town. But that has as much and more to do with the opponents than it does the Hawks, who are still chasing that 50-win pipe dream like it’s a possibility – even if cats like me abandoned the mere mention of such foolishness weeks ago.

The worst part for local fans who have suffered through years of frustration is that you haven’t had a chance to see your team play lights out basketball the past week. However fantastic it looks on the screen, it looks even better in person. As the Portland game ended Sunday I turned and chatted up some of the regulars who sit behind me every game and they said as much.

 

... Cici is too!

... Cici is too!

Once the playoffs start there’s no doubt in my mind the city of Atlanta will represent. That’s never going to be a problem. But on nights like tonight, when the lowly Kings stroll into town, you can count the people in the stands for the national anthem on two hands (this is Atlanta and unless it’s Kobe or LeBron, the crowd will arrive fashionably late as always).

 

Then again, it’s taken the Hawks the better part of a decade to crawl out of obscurity and back into the realm of the relevant in the NBA. Maybe we should allow the same for the crowds at the building formerly known as the Highlight Factory.

306 comments Add your comment

BA

March 17th, 2009
3:35 pm

If filling the seats were a priority for Hawks ownership, they would cut ticket, parking and concession prices. The cheap seats look full on most nights.

Willie Coyote

March 17th, 2009
3:38 pm

I come when I can (about 9-10 games this year). I don’t like to get season tickets to NBA games since you never know when you might play Cleveland and have three of LeBron’s biggest fans ref the game…don’t want to spend my money on a league that thinks a dress code is more important than things like that.

That being said, I will likely attend one or two more games and some of the playoffs because I love this team regardless of what the Association does.

Sekou K. Smith

March 17th, 2009
3:43 pm

Your flat screen must really be the lick BA, because those “cheap seats” aren’t full most nights. And I’m with you Willie C. Go when you can and enjoy it to the fullest. Like I said, I’m not knocking anyone that doesn’t show up. I just think it’s interesting, given all the consternation about this team and their performance over the past few years. Now that they’re finally a quality NBA team, it seems like no one is around to enjoy it in person.

ValdostaMike

March 17th, 2009
3:51 pm

Nice article, Sekou. I am one of those FSN/FSS HD fans… But I have to give it to the fans who are showing up. They are very loud and supportive of the HOME team. On TV it looks as if the announced attendance is a joke, with many disguised as empty seats. But those that are there have passion.

Ryno

March 17th, 2009
3:56 pm

I’m saving up for playoff tickets. I know the team plays better when the crowd is going crazy – but i’d rather pay a little more for playoff tickets when the game matters most.

Go Hawks!

Marcus

March 17th, 2009
4:00 pm

Great as always Sekou.
I do lament the few HOME come-from-ahead losses that got away, like CLE (by 1) and BOS (by 1 or 2) and PHX. Like Terrence Moore said in his recent piece, we are working towards building something and we are not completely there yet, but we had a few HOME and AWAY “L’s” over the course of the season that could have put us in position to be breathing down ORL’s neck for the No. 3 spot.
Ow well, I am just glad not to be in contention for the draft lottery. LOL.
Go Hawks.

Lori

March 17th, 2009
4:03 pm

I’m a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE Hawks fan and let me tell you if I lived in Atlanta I would be at every single home game and playoff game. I love my team and I will go out on a limb and say this: Hawks in the finals? You heard it here first. I have so much love and confidence in my team that I can sit here and say we have a quality team with a bunch of heart. Perhaps the most heart out of all of the other NBA teams. Maybe just maybe that heart will lead us to the big dance. I think it is possible. Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Josh Smith, Zaza Pachulia, Flip Murray, Marvin Williams, Acie Law, Al Horford, Mario West, Thomas Gardner, Solomon Jones, and the rest of the crew, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for a great season and most importantly a great week. No matter what happens now just know that you have my support. I will be watching tonight with a happy smile on my face. Don’t disappoint me against those Kings!!!

Marcus

March 17th, 2009
4:06 pm

Sekou,
Sidenote: if you were a Hawks scout, which prospects would be on the radar as a potential 1st round selection based on our needs after 3/4 of the season having been played?

Kyle

March 17th, 2009
4:14 pm

I love the Hawks too, but Hawks in the Finals? No way Lori!! It is feasible but I think Cleveland is too powerful. We need a true center. Move Al to PF, Josh at SF.

Mash

March 17th, 2009
4:28 pm

I hear ya about the lacking crowds Sekou. But I think the streaming in late comment has more to do with the early 7:00 start times, especially in the springtime here. The weather’s just too nice here in the spring to tart games at 7:00. They may need to consider going back to a 7:30 start time once daylight savings time hits.

Go Hawks!

ant banks

March 17th, 2009
4:35 pm

i am a season tix holder!! i am goin’ to the game whether they play a big team or not!! i am a die hard ATL fan. i wish more fan would come out but i do understand why they don’t, with the economy in the shape that it is in.

it would be nice if ASG would have $10 uppers and 25 lowers for the rooty-poot games. they would make money on concessions, parkin’ etc.

ValdostaMike

March 17th, 2009
4:36 pm

Kyle,

“Josh to SF”. huh? Our problems begin when he thinks he is a SF. He is too good a rebounder and not a good enough shooter. I believe we need more depth at 4 and 5.
JMHO

ant banks

March 17th, 2009
4:37 pm

BRAVESFAN79… you are on the wrong blog! rush limbaugh’s or sean hannity site wasn’t up today?

doc

March 17th, 2009
4:41 pm

sekou, i have encouraged folks in the past few posts to come out. with that said and even though the crowds have been thin and ba it is even thin where the thin air is, the hawks’ fans have been rallying behind this team with some noise. it hasnt been close to the noise level of the playoffs but it has been raucous for a crowd as small as they have been on some nights. so i agree with joe that there have been folks there that do more than sit on their hands and speak in a whisper.

Gilley

March 17th, 2009
4:42 pm

Personally, I would be at every Hawks game if I had tickets but I have become somewhat comfortable watching it on television and surfing the net and flipping the channels simultaneously. I agree home court is important but its that diffusion of responsibility where we expect those who get the free tickets from their jobs to uilize them or give them out to people when they are not going.

Melvin

March 17th, 2009
4:44 pm

Sekou, I have made that 3hr trip to the ATL several times this season and I will be back for the Lakers, Celtics and Magic games before the regular season is over. And I will be down for the weekend playoffs games as well. Hopefully, we can go deep into the playoffs b/c I dont mind spending more $$$ to support my favorite team. Especially we they are winning….

Go Hawks

Gilley

March 17th, 2009
4:49 pm

If all goes as planned and we see the Dwayne Wade and the Heat in the first-round then it’s going to be a serious need for crowd support. Well that goes for any team but Wade is a superstar and has proven he can carry a team and beat a team by himself. So I can still kind of concerned about the Hawks and the Heat in that matchup but hope the front court duo of Josh and Al continue to thrive and Joe Johnson keeps up his great play and we play defense.

But how do we win on the road? Like what were the common factors in our 14 or so road wins. I would like to say defense but what else because we need to go over these things when we play on the road

Lacsho

March 17th, 2009
5:02 pm

I was just thinking about this the other day. However, I was going in the other direction. I was going to say the season ticket holders are really getting their money’s worth this season. Hopefully I’ll be able to purchase season tickets for the 09/10 season.

Whatz good Banks….

jj

March 17th, 2009
5:08 pm

I would like for the Hawks to do some creative thinking like the Braves where they have special ticket packages that allow you to pay 40 dollars and get a 2 for 1 and also there were 2 free tickets in the package.I know basketball season is different from baseball,but what i’m saying is get creative.Man it’s rough out here for some of us true Hawk Fans. We are living in strange times right now and I for one love what The Hawks bring to my day in HD.

fudd21

March 17th, 2009
5:08 pm

Lascho I’ll go half with you and we split the tickets up 21 apiece.

Bob

March 17th, 2009
5:10 pm

I love to go out and support our Hawks! I just cant. Being 14, living about an hours drive from Atlanta, its hard to get to games. I wish I could go to more! I’m going to try and go out to support the Hawks against the Heat in their final home game!!! And then, maybe the playoffs!!! Let’s go Hawks!!!!

The murf

March 17th, 2009
5:11 pm

What the heck is a Polow and a Jeezy?

Anyway, go hawks, hang onto that four seed!

Astro Joe

March 17th, 2009
5:12 pm

I went to more games during the 13 win season (when I had more money) than in this near-glorious season. I’ll be there next week (I think) and I have started wrapping pennies for a playoff visit. But all you need to see is all of the closed up businesses on the way to Philips to understand that it is less about not supporting the home team as they rise from the ashes but more about being responsible to the priorities of life.

MAC-TOWN

March 17th, 2009
5:29 pm

BravesFan79, you dont want the league to go under do you? All those black criminals that are let free then might break into your home and interfere with your family threesomes and nascar watching.

Arts' Jokers

March 17th, 2009
5:52 pm

I’m sorry Sekou but BA’s screen is “the lick”? Very nice. Oh, it’s good to see a Nascar shout on your blog too!

War-N P 82

March 17th, 2009
5:55 pm

I agree with the last part of your quote Sekou. I think since the hawks have been not a factor for the past decade that’s it is going to take a few seasons of playoff competitive basketball for the fanbase to build back up. Atlanta will always be a football first town, but if the hawks keep the progress and and maintain there is a enough NBA fans in this town to have an INTENSE following

Rod from College Park

March 17th, 2009
6:00 pm

The 7:00 start times have a lot to do with the stands being empty at the start of the games. You can’t get anywhere in Atlanta by 7:00. Too much traffic. The other fact is most of the people, especially in the club section go to the games to be fashionable, and they are not really Hawks fans. They just want to people watch, and mingle. Most of the real fans are at home blogging away incorrect information about Marvin Williams, or watching games on the NBA package. Actually, it might be a good thing that the real fans can’t get to the games, because Mike Woodson would probably need extra security.

Arts' Jokers

March 17th, 2009
6:14 pm

Could be worse. We could be hosting a US World Baseball Classic game.

MannyT

March 17th, 2009
6:16 pm

Here’s where I’ll stand up for the season ticket holder. (In a way it is also standing up for the ASG. That part cracks me up, but they haven’t ruined my interest in baskeetball–yet.)

Let’s look at the least expensive lower level seat in a different way.

It’s not an afterthought for most to justify $2,000. But here’s what you get.

Breaking it into its components, it’s just under $50/game for:

http://www.nba.com/hawks/tickets/09_STH_Renewal_2.html

I like the opportunity for tax write off of the sucky games–turn the tickets in early for charity.
And you can spread the payments out over 8 months, so it’s less of a hit to the bank account.
When they roll out managment for exclusive events, it usually includes decent food.

There will not be a ticket to be had (at face value) for Boston or LA next weekend. Some folks will pay for half of a season ticket just to get into those games. Get the season ticket and sell off the 80% you don’t want. You will come out ahead.

All that said, I do a group thing where several single ticket holders sit near each other. We work out swaps among ourselves as needed.

Sure you can spend a lot on concession food, or you can eat before you go in. Much better dining options just outside Philips Arena than the Ga Dome or Turner Field.

BWAF

War-N P 82

March 17th, 2009
6:16 pm

Yeah good point about the fake fans Rod, Atlanta does kind have that Hollywood of the south think going were people show up late and leave early, which does kind of bum me out. One of the best moves Arthur Blanc did upon buying the falcons was to slash ticket prices right away. This got fans in the gates that couldnt go otherwise. Once the ownership dispute gets settled maybe they could try a similar tactic, and get more REAL fans in the building

Mychelfromatl

March 17th, 2009
6:16 pm

BravesFan79, you’re cleary on the wrong blog dude.

Mychelfromatl

March 17th, 2009
6:18 pm

typo^^^^”clearly”.

Jed

March 17th, 2009
6:24 pm

Too bad they aren’t even filling the cheap seats, b/c those seats are NOT BAD! Better than mid-level seats at the OMNI in my opinion.

Rollins Tree

March 17th, 2009
6:46 pm

The Kings are 14 and 52? Didn’t we lose to them on the west coast trip recently? Daaang!

Make up for it tonight!!!

Rollins Tree

March 17th, 2009
6:46 pm

Omni? Thats old school!!

Blast

March 17th, 2009
6:55 pm

Reasons that stands are not full every game are numerous. First, the fans will attend games againts the elite teams, but they will not attend every game, which could bring us to the next reason, the economy. Times are really hard, people. I work in a service sector, and I know how bad things are for my customers. Personally, I would love to see 60% of the Hawks games, but I just cannot afford it, and the 7pm start time is kind of early for me.

Also fans will come when the Hawks start winning consistently. When fans come fully expecting the Hawks to dominate every night. I don’t want to spend my money to see my team lose. Hawks are not quite there yet.

Lower level tickets are too high. I paid $85 to sit behind the rim the night Hawks snapped Cleveland’s 11 game winning streak. Hawks do offer some discounts, a rep sent me a nice package deal after the game, but there were good chances I would not make all those games. Again, can’t pay for what you end up not using. Hawks need broader discounts.

About the fans and noise, it’s great to know that they give their all everytime no matter how scanty they are. Philips is a GREAT home base when it’s full. That building is electric, and must count as one of the loudest arenas when full. It was mentioned earlier that opposing teams have more fans attending than home fans. That is simply not true anymore. A bunch of folks were flying the Cavs colors that night, but they soon sat down and shut up the moment Hawks began to roll. Home crowd went berserk!

Won’t lie, it’s fun watching at home, though. You can blog, do other stuff during almost 3 hours of basketball. I am commited to seeing more games this season now, and some playoffs too.

Hawks in the finals? Oh, so nice to dream…

BravesFan, you hate black people? You think we are all scrubs? Your president is a black man. Most athletes in American sports that gives you so much pleasure are black. As bloggers have said, you are on the wrong blog. Time for that kind of nonsense is over, dude.

niremetal

March 17th, 2009
7:00 pm

It’s tough to commute to Phillips Arena from Silver Spring, MD ;-) . But I actually have gone to both of the Hawks’ games in DC this year. Next year, I plan to go to any games they play in Philly (which is where I’ll have my first grown-up job…heh).

Blast

March 17th, 2009
7:10 pm

For those who can, it’s far easier, cheaper, and less stressful to take Martha. I parked my car at a train station nearby and paid 4 bucks to ride the train. The train drops you right inside the arena, but bring a book to read, or an Ipod, web phone, whatever. The benefits? No driving, no paid parking, no traffic. Less pollution. We help out the Hawks and Martha, doing our best to contribute to the economic recovery plan, heh, heh, heh…

Games to watch out for tonight. Magic/Cavs. Pistons/Mavs. Philly/Lakers.

Game Time!

mo

March 17th, 2009
7:12 pm

dang, phillips IS empty, good call sekou

rms

March 17th, 2009
7:12 pm

I’m always broke! Thats my excuse!!!! hehe

Astro Joe

March 17th, 2009
7:17 pm

niremetal, cool. My sister lives off Georgia Ave. in the city limits of DC. I’m hoping to get up to visit her this summer…. I need a cheap place for a family vacation. It’s either hang with my sister or drive around 285 6 times and tell my boys that we’re someplac3e new (Six Flags).

Blast

March 17th, 2009
7:19 pm

Hawks need to watch out for Martin and the Kings tonight. That team has nothing to lose and would love to snap Hawks streak.

Melvin

March 17th, 2009
7:19 pm

Hawks down 10 early. They need to step up the intensity….

mo

March 17th, 2009
7:23 pm

this game looks like its being played in SLOWMOTION

Melvin

March 17th, 2009
7:27 pm

Hawks better think twice if they think Sac is going to lay down and take a beating….

Melvin

March 17th, 2009
7:31 pm

Bibby look like he has the touch tonite…

KevinA

March 17th, 2009
7:39 pm

5 turn overs and JJ just won’t quit shooting.

Melvin

March 17th, 2009
7:41 pm

Al and Josh are killing the Kings in the paint…

kirkinga

March 17th, 2009
7:41 pm

Thanks for the new blog Sekou.

I certainly hope that I am not the only one who took a few seconds to click the “Report this comment” link in order to remove BravesFan 79’s vile comments. This is not the first time, nor the second. It is time to take a stand and report his behind.

He gets away with it on the Braves/MIB blog, they just laugh and he continues with his behavior, but here I would like to think people would like to keep this blog free of such mess.

Ok, off my soapbox.

Go Hawks!!

Blast

March 17th, 2009
7:44 pm

How many dunks Hawks gonna get tonight? Kings playing well, but not much defence. All Hawks have to do is crank up the defence and they take this game. Not much defence by either team so far. Hawks too many turnovers. Go Acie! 3!