Sunday, March 13, 2011
The World's Most Expensive Arena
It's funny how the olfactory memory works. You know, the way certain smells trigger memories in your brain. For me, the smell of elephants is an unlikely source of particularly fond childhood recollections. That's because, as anyone who's attended spring events at Madison Square Garden can tell you, the stairwells reek of circus elephants. You can't escape it. And for 21 years I've smelled it, sat in section 207 row A, seat 10 and seen the Knicks play. In the 90's, it was great, Ewing and the rest of them playing deep into the playoffs every year. In recent years, the product on the court stunk worse than all the elephant dung in the world, but this season at least there's been a little hope injected into the Garden again. Except now I (or anyone else who's not exceedingly wealthy) can't afford to sit there anymore. How's that for some elephant shit?
On Friday, just three weeks into the Melo/Amare era, the Garden announced ticket price hikes on most of the seats in the World's most Famous Arena. While not out rightly saying that the trade (and increased interest) is behind the rising ticket prices, there is a mention of "team expectations" being a factor as well as the upcoming renovations that will enhance the viewing experience. They acknowledge that the team's moderate success as of late (tonight's no-show against the Pacers not withstanding) plays a part in price hikes, but that these plans were always in the works. Weather or not Dolan and the rest of Garden management is simply taking advantage of the renewed interest in the Knicks or the prices are a by product of rebuilding MSG to match the rest of the NBA's new arenas is besides the point though. What's most important here is NOBODY CAN AFFORD THESE PRICES.
Don't let the memo's claim of 49% raises fool you, either. That's just the average. My aforementioned seat in section 207 has for the past 8 years or so cost $95.00. The two seats that my family have had combined with food, parking, etc. has always been a fairly expensive night out but not outrageous. Next season, a ticket in those same seats will cost $230.00. It's one thing to bump up Spike Lee's seat from 3 grand to $3600, but the price for my seat (the last row before waiter service even) is more than doubled! For that price, screw a waiter, I want a Knicks city dancer to give me a lap dance during timeouts. In a real New York gentrification type move, the Garden is actually making section 207 a 100 section and renaming the section "Upper Club". Sort of like how Real Estate agents refer to parts of Sunset Park as "South Slope" to entice hipsters.
And for all those kids who want to see Carmelo and the new look Knicks, one game for a father and his 2 kids who drive from outside the city (after the beer with the pretzel stick and the cotton candy and dinner) will cost close to a thousand bucks for one measly game. This is for a team that hasn't won a playoff game in 10 years.
Now this might just sound like bellyaching from a bitter old fan, but maybe the Garden should listen to some of the bitter old timers. We've sat through Keith Van Horn, Jerome James, Vin Baker, Jared Jeffries, Moochie Norris, Isiah, Jared Jeffries again, and the list goes on and on. But we kept coming back like an abused spouse. Except now the Garden has priced out the rest of the real fans that they hadn't priced out already. I'm not going to be sitting in section 207 next season to see what Carmelo and Amare can do, for the first time in a very long time.
Smells like shit.