The San Antonio Spurs’ new era begins in earnest this week with the regular-season debut of rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Wembanyama’s 7-foot, 3.5-inch frame and sleek, guard-like skills have instantly transformed his franchise’s expectations on the court — and triggered a similarly swift reversal of fortune in terms of media exposure and ticket sales.
The team will be on national TV at least 19 times this season, up from just four times last year, thanks in large part to the presence of this year’s top overall draft pick. The Spurs also received 4,000 new season-ticket deposits and generated the largest number of overall season-ticket accounts in franchise history.
And after finishing 25th in NBA attendance last year, a return to the top 10 this year is likely, thanks to their new star.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who previously guided top-overall draft picks David Robinson and Tim Duncan to Hall of Fame careers, said the pressure on Wembanyama is far greater due to social media — but isn’t worried. “He’s got character. He has got a sense of humor. He’s intelligent. He knows how to handle [the pressure].”
The new season also brings the opening of the Spurs’ new $500 million practice center and mixed-use campus, the Rock at La Cantera, as well as the increasing exploration of a new downtown venue when the current lease for Frost Bank Center expires in 2032.
Dealing With the Spotlight
The Spurs are looking to further leverage this pivotal moment in team history by hiring a full-time behavioral economist, Raghavi Nimmala.
“We’ve seen this huge influx of fans, and we now have more new [tickets] accounts than we did old and renewing accounts. And for the first time, more than 50% of the new accounts are Gen Z and millennials. So everything we’ve learned to this point about how to treat a season-ticket holder is out the window,” Jordan Kolosey, Spurs VP of business strategy innovation, told Front Office Sports.