SBJ/September 30 - October 6, 2002/This Weeks Issue

Wizards double price of seats at courtside

The Washington Wizards, trying to leverage the anticipated return of Michael Jordan, more than doubled the price of their most expensive tickets while adding new top-priced luxury suites in the MCI Center.

Last season, courtside seats at the MCI Center were $325, but this season the Wizards raised the price of the same seats to $750 each. The team also raised choice main floor ticket prices to $110 a game from $100 a game and added four new luxury suites priced at $325,000 each to give the MCI Center a total of 114 suites ranging in price from $125,000 to $325,000. So far, the team has sold two of the four new suites.

"We hadn't raised the price of season tickets for the last four years," said team spokesman Matt Williams. "This year, we've raised the price for less than 30 percent of all our seats."

The Wizards dropped the ticket price for about 1,000 seats in the upper reaches of the MCI Center to $15 from $45.

This season, the Wizards also are filling some of the retail space that has proved to be a tough sell since the arena opened in 1997. A McDonald's restaurant is under construction, and a McDonald's-owned Chipotle restaurant will open in the MCI Center as part of a new sponsorship deal with the fast-food chain.

As press time, Jordan had yet to tell the Wizards whether he'll play next season, but league and team sources said they expect to see Jordan on the Wizards' roster.

Jordan's return last season sparked a 33 percent increase in average paid attendance, pushing the number to 20,764 from 15,577 during the 2000-01 season. Last year, the Wizards had 38 sellouts, the most in team history.

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