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Shek
01 Aug 10,, 03:15
Miami Heat fires sales team after season tickets sell out - Business - MiamiHerald.com (http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/30/1754732/lebron-james-was-great-for-the.html)


Miami Heat fires sales team after season tickets sell out

The Miami Heat easily sold out its season tickets after LeBron James announced he was joining the team. That turned out to be bad news for the ticket-sales staff, which the Heat fired Friday.

``Now that the supply for [season tickets] has been exhausted we no longer require a season ticket sales team,'' the Heat said in a brief statement Friday afternoon.

A team spokeswoman, Lorrie-Ann Diaz, declined to comment or answer questions about the firings, which one staffer said cost roughly 30 people their jobs.

The news marks the first departure from the easy-street air that's surrounded the Heat since James announced July 8 he would play for Miami. During an e-mail interview Wednesday on the star player's impact on the team, Diaz noted how busy the sales staff was in the hours after James signed.

``Our sales reps were manning the phones around the clock,'' Diaz wrote.

``We couldn't get them to go home! There was very little inventory remaining once LeBron officially made his decision. And we sold out of that, as well, in record time.''

In its statement, the Heat said it tries to match its sales staff to the number of tickets they have to sell each season.
``Historically, our sales force has ebbed and flowed based on the supply and demand of our season ticket inventory,'' the statement read.

Since 2006, when the Heat won the NBA championship, the sales staff has had an uphill job as the injuries, losses and player trades turned off fans. In 2007, the Heat found itself the worst team in basketball, and seats were hard to fill.

That changed once word leaked that James might come to the Heat. As the rumor gained steam, the team saw a rush on season-ticket purchases. Once James made it official during a live ESPN interview, it was hours before all the season tickets were gone.

Ayeh Ashong, partner at the Tickets of America brokerage in Miami, said demand for Heat tickets is sky-high, with opening game seats selling for about $250 a piece.

Heat season tickets typically sell for as little as $30 per game for seats high in the AmericanAirlines Arena or as much as $2,300 for courtside seats, Ashong said.

``They're probably the hottest tickets in the country,'' he said.

In its six-sentence statement, the Heat did not release details of the staff dismissals.

``While the decision to release part of our sales force was a difficult one, we greatly appreciate their contributions to the company,'' the statement read. ``We have also hired a placement service to assist those individuals find new employment.

``Should any season tickets become available, they will be handled through our season ticket deposit program. We thank those employees for their time with the company and wish them success in their future endeavors.''