NBA

With First Sign of Success, Knicks Ticket Prices Soar

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The price of success is heavy if you’re a New York Knicks fan. With a place in the post-season looking likely for the first time in seven years, the decision to raise season ticket prices does seem reasonable. But a 49% average hike is surely a bit extreme.

That’s what Madison Square Garden Inc, which owns the Knicks and MSG, will be asking fans of the basketball side to fork out, though. Meanwhile, fans of NHL side Rangers will see an average price increase of 23%.

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Knicks ticket prices have only risen once during the past 10 years, while actually remaining unchanged for the last six as the team failed to make the post-season. However, with Brooklyn-born forward Carmelo Anthony and center Amar’e Stoudemire leading the way, that prolonged absence appears likely to end.

But, even with a post-season to look forward to, such a massive increase in ticket prices seems extreme – until you realize that Madison Square Garden is entering the initial stages of a transformation that is expected to cost in the region of $800million over the next three summers.

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The lower bowl’s seating arrangement will be tackled first, with the upper bowl to follow next year and in 2013.

Garden representatives will tell anyone prepared to ask that watching Melo and Amar’e together for a full basketball season will be worth the extra bucks, especially compared to when Isiah Thomas coached the Knicks and Stephon Marbury was his main man during the mid to late-Noughties. But, although some of the play on show was almost unwatchable back then, this hike will hit fans suddenly and hard.

However, at least New York’s hockey and basketball fans won’t be faced with the horrible personal seat licenses that Jets and Giants fans had to fork out for before last year’s opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium.

A play-offs spot is not guaranteed, so announcing these rises already might still backfire if the “most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the world” – as MSG Sports president Scott O’Neill calls Knicks supporters – don’t believe the show on offer is worth the admission price.

There are also tough times ahead for Magic fans in Orlando with season ticket prices already being upped – only a few months after the opening of the Amway Center – with a spokesperson stating that “supply and demand” is behind the decision.

A 4% increase might not seem that large, but many fans have been left disappointed by the news, with one, Tom McMacken, saying that after “the community invested heavily in the arena, I would hope that…season ticket holders would see prices stay level for a while”.

No such luck, Tom. Again, it will be fascinating to see the uptake of tickets next season after the Magic hit an all-time high of over 14,000 last year.

However, not all fans are facing budget cuts elsewhere to pay for tickets, with Toronto Raptors reducing prices for the next two seasons in attempt to fill the Air Canada Centre.

The Raptors, of course, look certain to miss out on post-season games for the third year in succession, so it makes sense to hopefully find the extra 3000-plus fans required to fill the 19,800 capacity arena by reducing the lower bowl prices by anything from five to 30% while also lowering the upper bowl by 10-15%.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Bucks has announced a freeze for season ticket holders for next season if they renew by April 4, while those who renew by March 21 will actually get a 5% discount for the Bradley Center. It’s not all bad news, then.