It’s a Tuesday — one of the last home games of the Philadelphia 76ers’ miserable season. A win against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans would push the team into double digits on the year.
About an hour before tipoff, Ronnie Garr shuffles up and down a wide stretch of concrete outside the Wells Fargo Center’s ticket office. On this wind-whipped night, he’s trying to unload some seats for the game.
He’s not having much luck. But he’s gotten pretty used to that this season.
“Nobody wants to come see the loser. Everybody loves a winner,” says Garr in a soft, gravely voice. “Plus [starting center Jahlil] Okafor is out. Half of the stars are out. They’d rather wait for next year.”
Garr would like to do the same, but selling tickets is how he earns a living — for decades.
He sells tickets to the Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, whatever he can get his hands on.
Back when Hall of Fame point guard Allen Iverson was the face of the franchise, Garr had a relatively easy time selling Sixers tickets. It got harder after “The Answer” was traded in 2006 and even harder when StubHub, the online ticket resale platform, came on the scene.
“Their prices are cheap. Sometimes, if it’s sold out, those seats are expensive, but if they’re not, they’re just as cheap as mine,” says Garr, the only street salesman willing to be interviewed.
This season, the Sixers sold out just one home game. The Golden State Warriors, the reigning NBA champs, were in town.
Overall, the Sixers have the third-worst average attendance in the league.
All of it has made this season the worst ever for selling Sixers tickets.
“I’ve never witnessed … it’s been bad,” Garr says. “This tanking stuff is bad for business.”
The Sixers haven’t had a winning season since 2011, a strike-shortened season. Over the past three seasons, they’ve had fewer than 20 wins. This season, the team is destined to end up with the worst record in the NBA — by a few games.
Garr isn’t bitter. Not completely, at least.
“It’ll turn around. You have to take the good with the bad. Hopefully, [Joel] Embiid comes back next year and we’ll be all right,” he says.
The Sixers drafted the 7-foot center in 2014, but a stress fracture in his foot has sidelined him for two seasons.
The Sixers, however, could end up with four first-round draft picks come June.