Friday, March 11, 2011

Renovation Madness

Today, Madison Square Garden announced price increases for Knicks and Rangers tickets due to the Renovation. As expected, it's going to cost fans of both teams a pretty penny just to continue supporting each club.

If you're a basketball fan, I feel sorry for you because a Knicks ticket will cost nearly double, which comes as no shock with the team competitive again thanks to star trio Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups. Considering that they have increased only one year in a decade due to some of the most unwatchable basketball in NBA history, you knew billionaire crook Jim Dolan couldn't wait for this day. So, Knick fans will pay through the roof for the new state of the art Garden, which from the look of things, sounds great if you have financial security.

As for our beloved Blueshirts who've seen hikes in four of the past five years due to the postseason run ('06-09), we're looking at a modest 23 percent increase just to cheer on 85 years of mediocrity. Well, hey. At least our Cup came less than 20 years ago. Knick fans have suffered far longer. Considering the current state of the club which is fragile thanks to a 5-2 drubbing in Anaheim the other night, it's awfully difficult to be enthused about this development. Sure. We knew Jazzy Jim had to raise the cost due to the nature of what's going to be an entirely different building from the one we know. If you've gone to games lately, take a look downstairs at what's now a construction site where hardly anything is recognizable. There was a lot of confusion at our last game from others as to where to find restrooms. They even closed the middle concession between the 300's and 400's.

It doesn't promise to get any better as this 85th Year Anniversary season concludes. Hopefully, there will be playoffs. And if you can afford the first round, which figures to be be steep, Dolan has indicated that if your playoff invoice is in by my Dad's birthday March 24 (how convenient), you'll get a 10 percent rebate. Well, laughty freaking dah! That's the least they can do for a decade of mediocrity that's seen our team make the second round twice. That's it for the Knicks and Rangers completely! What a great job by our owner. Take a bow for turning a once great arena into a joke. Bravo! Here's a little slogan that feels somewhat appropriate for today.

Mediocrity be thy name. Drive the customers insane. That's Jazzy Jim's game.
We kid. The good news is there won't be any self-serving PSL's (personal seat licenses). Apparently, there was enough need and greed already at the World's Most Shameless Arena to borrow a phrase from Devil fans. Ah. At the end of the day, it is what it is. So, they'll make the Garden look more modern with seat upgrades, better sight lines, actual concourse room, real bathrooms, improved food services, etc. It all sounds exciting. Give them credit for not doing the PSL's because that's just wrong on so many levels. Granted. It's not like we're talking about a brand spankin' new arena like the Devils got or the Giants/Jets, Mets and Yankees. There's no doubt they needed to get with the times. I get all that. But in a struggling economy with gas prices up the wazoo (can $5/gallon be coming by summer), the cost just for a family of four was already bad. Now, it will be astronomical.

Thanks to favorite Montreal Tweep @vivianmtl, here's the official press release with a few highlights:

As a result of the Transformation, the seating configuration in the lower bowl of the Arena will completely change beginning next season, the upper bowl is expected to follow in the 2012-13 season. Season ticket holders will be relocated to new seats accordingly.

"The seating configuration and layout of The Garden will change with the Transformation, and we have been planning for several years with our customers in mind," said O'Neil. "We have the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in the world and it's our intent and plan to manage a transparent and smooth seat relocation process – maintaining similar sightlines and upgrading experiences. We have a process in place and dedicated staff to work directly with our customers to ensure that everything is seamless and meets their expectations."

In addition to not having PSLs in the transformed Arena, Knicks and Rangers season ticket options and benefits for next season include:

- Season tickets will be offered at a variety of price points, including 17 price points for Rangers fans starting as low as $39 per game and 20 price points for Knicks fans starting at $10 per game;

- Select premium seats will now have access to several new all-inclusive clubs – the Delta SKY360° Club and 1879 Club presented by J.P. Morgan. Both clubs will offer exclusive dining options and an intimate setting within the arena;

- New wider Madison Concourse (6th Floor) nearly double in size with views of the city featuring several new first-class food and entertainment options;

- Exclusive season ticket holder benefits, including access to special events with current players and alumni, such as meet and greets, storyteller forums, skating with the Rangers and shooting hoops with the Knicks; unique gifts and experiences based on tenure; savings vs. individual game tickets; first consideration to buy playoff tickets and for seat relocation and upgrades; online ticketing services; and a personal relationship manager to provide assistance for all account needs;

- A number of flexible payment plan options are available for all subscribers, new this season is an extended 10 month interest-free payment plan.

There are several special incentives for Knicks and Rangers fans to renew their 2011-12 season tickets early or online. The renewal deadline for both teams is May 13. Season ticket holders that renew by April 8 will receive a free one night stay at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Those that renew their 2011-12 season tickets by April 8 and secure their 2011 playoff tickets by March 24, will receive a 10% rebate on their playoff tickets.

Fans are encouraged to renew their season tickets online by using their personalized website which outlines their exclusive subscriber benefits and features a 3D Virtual Venue tool showcasing their seats. Fans that pay online will be entered to win a number of great prizes, including complimentary roundtrip tickets on Delta Air Lines and getaways courtesy of Delta Vacations.

The 17 price points isn't bad. It sounds like the 400's aren't going up more than a couple of bucks, which is the least they can do. Show a little loyalty to some of your best fans, who help make the place what it is. I know for myself, I won't be part of it. It's just too much right now for any of us and the only way I go back is if I'm credentialed next year to finally cover the team. Something that's long been a dream of mine.

I also like the 10 month interest-free plan as it at least acknowledges that not everyone has money growing off trees. We all have bills to pay monthly. The cost of living isn't getting any better. If only it were that easy to have loads of cash like the desired celebrities and higher ups they're catering to, which has always been my biggest issue with how it's run. It hasn't been about the true fans for a while. However, these sentiments can easily be echoed for most of the expensive new stadiums/in-game experience and lifestyle where you basically have to be a rockstar, rapper, movie star, actor/actress to take advantage of the commodities. How many real Yankee fans go to the New Stadium? There just aren't many @krissynyy's or @mellank's. Sure. There are a lot more Yankee fans than Rangers even if we boast one of the most loyal fanbases in sports. This is a baseball town. Hence the point.

At the end of the day, I can't go nuts over today's news. It was coming. You didn't have to be a brain surgeon to figure it out. If only they'd find a cure for cancer or be able to prevent Tsunamis like the terrible tragedy that struck Japan. God bless everyone who's been affected. If you can't afford tickets, it's not the end of the world. As much as we love to root for our teams, it's only sports. We can always support them on TV. I hope the Rangers make it. But if they don't win at San Jose- a daunting task- they're doomed. The Sabres keep winning and are now in seventh due to fewer games played. The Hurricanes are right there as are the Leafs and tonight's Devils-Thrashers tilt looms large. 

Unfortunately, this post isn't about the excitement of a playoff race. It's about the harsh reality of where sports have been headed for a while. Phasing more diehards out. A sad business which is never going away.


Hasan said...

Maybe you weren't surprised but the arrogance of owners like Dolan never cease to amaze me. The 25% increase to the Rangers tickets actually surprised me more than the 50% to the Knicks ones. Admittedly I'd forgotten about the renovation though, since I haven't been to the Garden in a couple years.

I don't really know what's going on with the Devils yet vis-a-vis next year's prices, except that they're slashing sth prices in the ghost town better known as the balcony behind the nets (to $22 and $28 a game). And they might have a full-time Supporters Section in the mezz next year as well somewhere in the $20's per game.

They really do have to slash the upper bowl prices though, it makes little sense to have upper corners cost more than balcony behind the net seats. Everything except the extreme corners was $35/29 this year (the latter being sth price), which is a great value for center ice, not so much so if you're in 209, 215, 226 and 232.

Derek Felix said...

They at least have the common sense to do that and take care of their fans, which is what you do when you're building a fanbase. When it comes to us, we're an Original Six that's been around 85 years. So, MSG doesn't feel the need to go the extra mile to satisfy loyal customers who live and die with this franchise. One Cup in 70 years.

The Puck Stops Here


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