March 11, 2011
Time to pay the piper, Knicks fans.
Your team kept ticket prices unchanged for the last six years, and while it was probably right in doing so (New York hasn't made the playoffs since 2004), it was also hemorrhaging money the entire time. New York had the highest payroll in the NBA for years, only dropping to 15th this season after clearing all manner of contracts off the roster last summer in order to sign All-Star Amar'e Stoudemire(notes).
But New York traded for another All-Star in Carmelo Anthony(notes) last month, promptly handing him a three-year, $65 million contract extension along the way. And though they only have nine players under contract for next season, the team will already be on the hook for $60 million in salaries, only to grow larger as the roster fills out. In two years, Anthony and Stoudemire alone might make up about 90 percent of the team's salary cap. And the team, if you wouldn't mind, would like you to pay for it.
Because a press release sent out by Madison Square Garden tells us that Knicks prices will rise next season by an average of 49 percent. That's quite the hike, even if the team is doing away with those ridiculous Personal Seat Licenses that charge you extra for the right to then buy your season tickets. Still, the average ticket for a Knicks game will now fly over the $100 barrier.
Again, there are good reasons for this. The Knicks are paying for a winning team, they haven't raised ticket prices in six years, and MSG is completely revamping the Garden, adding all sorts of extras to make the viewing experience a wee bit better for those who come to watch a Knicks or Rangers game. Including that incredibly creepy bridge, that goes over the top of the stadium.
Also, in New York? The team can afford to. While a good chunk of its fandom will be priced out of seeing live action, the team can get away with still filling the stadium with well-to-do rooters.
The caveat in all of this is the realization that during that ticket price freeze, the Knicks went against all conventional wisdom in paying through the teeth for terrible, terrible teams. Under Isiah Thomas, the squad made bonehead decision after decision, with only the most outrageous of Knick fans thinking that a massive deal for Eddy Curry(notes) or a trade for Zach Randolph(notes) or Steve Francis(notes) was a smart basketball or financial move. The time has clearly come to pay for the sins of the Father of All Terrible Deals in Thomas.
Good thing it coincides with the play of one of the league's most entertaining teams, playing in the world's most famous arena, while making a likely playoff run.