SBD/March 14, 2011/Franchises

Perks Of Renovated MSG Major Reason For Knicks, Rangers Ticket Price Hikes

MSG Sports Friday announced that prices will increase for Knicks and Rangers season-ticket holders at the soon-to-be renovated MSG, and "most of the increase will be borne by ticket holders in the Garden's lower bowl," according to Jeremy Olshan of the N.Y. POST. MSG Sports President Scott O'Neil said that "high-end food, drinks and fancy digs account for the lion's share of the hike." O'Neil: "If you take out the all-inclusive, you are at a 28 percent increase." Olshan noted a "select 100 season-ticket holders will get free food and non-alcoholic drinks at their seats and in the posh 1879 Club, named for the year of MSG's founding." The "next best 800 seats will get a similar all-inclusive amenity, at the just slightly less luxurious Delta Sky360 club." MSG officials also "admitted team performance is a factor in ticket hikes." They noted that prices for Knicks season tickets have "stayed stagnant the last six years in part because of the Knicks' lackluster play" (N.Y. POST, 3/12).

MSG TICKET PRICE INCREASES
49% average increase for Knicks season tickets
23% average increase for Rangers season tickets
$600 per-game increase for courtside seats to $3,600
173% to 198% increase for seats in row directly behind court or rinkside
Best 100 seats get free food and non-alcoholic drinks at seats and in posh 1879 club
Next best 800 seats get free food and drinks at seats and in the Delta Sky360 club
 

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: On Long Island, Neil Best noted while MSG officials "declined to offer a complete breakdown of the new pricing," the figures were "skewed by big increases in the lower bowl." Rangers season-ticket prices went up 23%, compared to 49% for the Knicks. One factor in the lesser increases for the Rangers was that their prices "have risen in four of the past five years" (NEWSDAY, 3/12). ESPN N.Y.'s Ian Begley noted season tickets "will be offered at 20 different price points for Knicks fans, with seats starting at $35 per game," and "at 17 different price points for Rangers fans, with the least expensive seat selling for $39 per game." O'Neil said MSG's renovation is the "dominant reason why prices are where they are." He added there were "several different factors" for the increases, but noted the prices "were made before" the Knicks acquired F Carmelo Anthony (ESPNNY.com, 3/11). O'Neil said of the price hikes for lower-bowl seats, "For the beachfront property, you really have to pay more." In N.Y., Belson & Sandomir noted "one element missing in the Garden's ticket pricing is the sale" of PSLs, "which were used by the Giants and the Jets to the dismay of many of their fans." O'Neil: "A lot of fans told us they didn't want them" (NYTIMES.com, 3/11).

PRICED OUT: In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro wrote Knicks and Rangers Owner James Dolan "imposes the increase for one reason: because he can." The Knicks "will have an average ticket price on the north side of $100 next season," and D'Alessandro wrote, "The thing that sincerely surprises us about all this ... is that there is anyone left who can afford Knicks tickets" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/13). But in N.Y., Christian Red wrote "at least New York basketball and hockey fans won't have to contend with the dreaded" PSLs. There have been "plenty of groans at the World's Most Famous Arena the past decade," but the "buzz is back at 33rd and Seventh" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/12).

LOSING ITS ATMOSPHERE: In N.Y., Larry Brooks writes Rangers games once drew "rabid crowds," but they have become "polite audiences." Brooks: "And it's only going to get worse for the Bluebloods and it's only going to become more alien for the Blueshirts as the transformation of the once intimidating arena moves forward into a future in which only the swells will be able to afford the luxury of going to the games given the absolutely staggering ticket price hikes the Garden will impose on its customers beginning next season." Dolan "isn't doing anything immoral;" he is "doing business." But he "should be prepared for the 'lower bowl' to be comparatively empty, the way the preposterously priced seats on the privileged side of the moat are at Yankee Stadium" (N.Y. POST, 3/14). Also in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes it is "as if the local ballparks and arenas should be viewed and attended as restaurants and hangouts, as if the games played within are mere throw-ins and sideshows, like a pool table in the back." Mushnick: "The Garden, Yanks, Mets, Jets and Giants push the outermost limits of affordability then explain that they're doing it for you, not for them" (N.Y. POST, 3/14).

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