SBD/January 31, 2013/Franchises

Suns See Downturn In Attendance With Losing Record Following Nash Departure

Sarver said Phoenix media view Suns' situation more harshly than ticket holders
The Suns’ 16-30 record and a "starless ensemble have put a hurt on” the team’s gate, according to Paul Coro of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The Suns’ attendance average of 14,826 as of Tuesday “ranks 25th and the 80.5 percent arena capacity is 22nd.” Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver said, "It's a struggle. We'd love to have fans try to grow with us. The reality is it's tougher to sell tickets when the team is losing more games than we're winning. We work at it every day.” Sarver said that there has been “little brushback from season-ticket holders during the Suns' worst half-season in a quarter-century, and after Lindsey Hunter replaced Alvin Gentry as coach.” Sarver: "There's a disconnect between the criticism from local media and our fan base and national media. Fans are disappointed. I'm not saying they're not. I'm disappointed. ... But as specifically related to the changes, the degree that the local media portrayed that transition was a little harsher than what we've heard from our ticket holders” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 1/30). AZCENTRAL.com Sports Dir Mark Faller in a video said “there have been a lot of empty seats” this season for Suns games. The Arizona Republic's Coro said the “main reason attendance is down this year is because of the team.” The Suns “lack star power” now that G Steve Nash is with the Lakers. Faller said, “The Suns know they have their work cut out for them, both for the rest of this season and for the immediate future thereafter. They aren’t going to make the playoffs for a third consecutive season and they’re probably not going to get an impact player in the draft come this June so they have to stay the course and hope the fans go along with them for the ride, no matter how bumpy it is” (AZCENTRAL.com, 1/29).

STARTING AT THE TOP: ESPN’s Bill Simmons said there is a case to be made that Sarver is "the worst owner in the league." The Suns were in the Western Conference Finals in ‘10, but in three years, "they’ve dismantled this team." Simmons: "They don’t have a single major asset that you would point to and be like, ‘Well, at least they have that guy.’ It’s a mess and I don’t think it’s getting better. ... The Suns have great fans, 40 years of great history and I think they deserve a better owner.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said Phoenix is “one of the few cities with all four major league sports franchises where basketball is No. 1." Wilbon: "They care about basketball” (“Kia NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 1/30).
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