The 76ers launch single-game ticket sales for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday. It is the first time that single-game tickets are available through the team's new partnership with ticket reseller StubHub. It's also the beginning of StubHub's era of selling tickets for an entire venue, not just seats being resold by the original ticketholders.
When you log onto the 76ers' website, you'll see some things that are familiar. That's because StubHub licensed ticket-selling software owned by Spectra, the Comcast-Spectacor subsidiary that runs ticket sales for many other events at the Wells Fargo Center.
As with other ticket sales websites, you'll be able to select one seat or a group of seats, and you'll be able to pick the level of the arena, section, row and individual seats.
But beyond that, the setup has changed dramatically.
Start with this: There isn't a standard single-game ticket price anymore. Variable pricing - charging more for high-profile games and less for others - certainly isn't a new thing anymore for the 76ers or many other pro sports teams. But according to 76ers chief sales and marketing officer Chris Heck, the team isn't setting any kind of baseline price anymore.
"The day and age of ticket sales being one price for 41 games doesn't exist anymore," Heck said. "We are leaving that primitive thinking behind."
Prices won't just vary for each game. They'll vary for a given game over the course of time - right down to hours or minutes.
"It's much more like hotels and airline tickets [that are] based on demand and interest," Heck said. "Our thought process with everything here is to be conscious of what the demand is and price it appropriately, whether it's higher or lower."
Variable pricing isn't entirely new for the 76ers. Last season, fans accused the team of price-gouging when prices went up for the Lakers' game here when Kobe Bryant announced on the day that it would be his last in his home town.
But that was still within a structure of tiered pricing. This season, prices for every single-game ticket will be variable all the time. Heck said the 76ers won't even advertise a baseline price from which tickets will fluctuate.
"No two games are equal - they just aren't," Heck said. "What we try to do is, in advance, do our best to predict what that price point of demand will be. ... It's 41 different price points for 41 different games, potentially."
When you're browsing through available seats on the ticket sales website, you won't know which are up for resale and which are part of the "primary" inventory that's being sold directly by the team.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter to us and it doesn't matter to StubHub what the consumer chooses," Heck said. "Our business relationship [is that] we get the same amount no matter how you cut it."
Not surprisingly, the 76ers and StubHub also will collect lots of data on the tickets you buy. Geoff Lester, StubHub's head of partnership and business development, said that return visitors will get tailored recommendations for purchases based on their past buying history.
On the flip side, if you're selling a ticket, the site will offer real-time data on what prices other sellers are posting.
StubHub will charge ticket buyers a processing fee of 15 percent of the transaction. Sellers will pay a variable percentage fee based on the size of the sale.
What about fans who want to buy tickets at the box office? For now, they'll be able to buy seats only from the "primary" inventory. Seats that are resold won't be available - which means the bargains you can get from resold seats won't be available.
Lester said he expects those seats to be available to walkup purchasers next season.
Heck is convinced that there aren't too many such fans left.
"Tell me somebody that doesn't have a phone and wants to take a chance on a box-office purchase," he quipped. "I bet if you went around, either they [would] or one of their children would buy tickets online for them. ... We're just not catering to people that don't have phones or the internet, and I don't think many businesses are."
Asked if that was really how he wanted to describe the marketplace, Heck stood by the remarks.
"I'm not shy about saying that technology has influenced the way that we sell tickets and interface with the public, to our advantage and to theirs," he said. "Hopefully, this is better and we can help [older fans] adapt. ... If someone wants to still physically come up to our box office and purchase the same ticket that was available in the same scenario as the previous year at the box office, then they can do so."
The prices at the box office will vary in the same way that prices will for those same seats if you buy them online.
Online purchasers will have access to the full range of available seats, and the full range of available prices. And you probably won't notice the difference between individual seats if you're trying to buy a group of four, because you'll be given the average price per seat for the set.
But a fan who wants to buy one ticket will see all the price differences from one seat to the next. Heck said the website will also display benchmark figures that show where similarly located tickets are selling at the moment.
The differences between those figures could be vast.
StubHub and other ticket resale websites have become popular in part because they often offer tickets at far cheaper prices than what teams officially set - sometimes as low as $5 or less.
Because ticket prices and attendance are often used as barometers of how "major league" a team is, cheap tickets can sometimes lead to bad publicity.
The 76ers have some history with this. Back in 2013, early in the team's era of "tanking" - intentionally losing to increase the odds of getting high draft picks - one enterprising fan bought a block of 18 seats for five cents each.
Heck said those swaths of cheap seats were available in part because groups that bought tickets for certain games were forced to buy tickets for other, less desirable games. Those groups sold their unwanted tickets to brokers, who put them on the market for cheap prices.
That practice has been cleaned up, Heck said, but individual ticket-holders aiming to sell unwanted tickets can do so for whatever price they want.
"People who are [full] season-ticket members have the opportunity to sell their tickets in a free enterprise way," he said. "If Joe Q. Public has two season tickets and wants to sell [an individual game] for $5, fine. Knock yourself out."
Heck added that while he thinks that practice is "a waste of time," the team doesn't discourage it.
"That's the whole point of this whole configuration - make it easy for them to resell their tickets if that's what they choose to do," he said. "We have enough confidence to know you're not going to see hundreds or thousands of tickets sold at $5, because that's not who our consumers who purchase season tickets are."
Lester said that as StubHub has worked more closely with various professional teams and leagues, the company has been able to make the case that letting tickets go for low prices isn't such a bad thing.
"We used to view ourselves as a disruptor," he said. "We think we've historically met a need for people to find the tickets they want at the right value. ... Working more closely with rights holders [such as teams and leagues] is in not only our best interest, but the customers' best interest."
Lester equated the situation to when online music sharing services like Napster upended the recording industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The industry eventually realized that it needed to evolve - though by the time it did so, it was almost too late for the industry's own good.
The sports industry, Lester said, did not make that same mistake.