For the first time in more than a decade, the Knicks are generating some late-winter excitement in Madison Square Garden. The arrival of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to go along with the off-season’s big addition, Amar’e Stoudemire, has the team headed in the right direction after years of mediocrity.
Knick fans have suffered through some awful basketball in recent years. They watched loyally and faithfully as former general manager Isaiah Thomas made a mess of things and, in the end, proved to be an embarrassment both on and off the court. During this torture, owner James Dolan did the right thing by fans. He didn’t raise prices for six years as the team failed repeatedly to make the playoffs.
Now, however, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. The new additions have turned the Knicks into a playoff contender that can compete with the NBA’s elite. Knick fans are dreaming of the postseason for the first time in years.
Mr. Dolan, however, has put a damper on all this excitement. Ticket prices are going up–way up, by an average of 49 percent. That’s just the wrong move at the wrong time.
There’s no question that Mr. Dolan has presided over a revival–however late in coming–at the Garden. The team seized the opportunity to improve itself when it added three proven All-Stars, and things figure to be even better next year. Free agents who would have shunned the Garden four or five years ago suddenly will be eager to set up shop in the Garden.
Still, now is not the time to jack up the price of seeing a Knicks game in person. At the moment, the average price of a ticket is $88. That’s relatively cheap compared with the Los Angeles Lakers, who charge an average of $113 a ticket. Then again, the Knicks haven’t won a ring since Walt Frazier was dishing off to Bill Bradley. As for the Lakers, well, they have enough bling to impress even a Yankee fan.
Mr. Dolan is within his rights to charge what the market commands. But he should consider what his team’s fans have been through since the turn of the century. It hasn’t been pretty, but the fans have always shown up.