This year, the World’s Most Famous Arena began massive renovations that will transform The Garden into a more up-to-date arena to watch a game, be it basketball or hockey. The renovations are already underway, and have made using the bathroom in the 400s a 25 minute excursion. With the renovations costing MSG its entire summer revenue (MSG will not host any events from May through August), and the renovation funding coming directly from the Dolans’ pockets, the money had to be made up somewhere.
The Dolans will be recouping their money with a ticket price hike for both the Rangers and the Knicks in the upcoming season. While not unsurprising to see a ticket price increase, the news and severity of the increase still shook some fans. The average increase in price for season tickets went up a whopping 23%, but that number is slightly misleading. The largest price differences (5-hole has a great layout of the new prices) come in the 100 and 200 level seats, or those just above the purple seats. Those of us who sit in the 400s, be it for the price or for the atmosphere, see only a $2 (5%) increase in the ticket price.
While the immediate price increases may not affect us in the 400s, they will create a Yankee Stadium-esque desertion of the lower bowl. We all saw what happened with the overpriced Yankee Stadium lower bowl, no one sat there because no one could afford to. And this is with baseball being slightly more popular than hockey these days. The average price of a purple seat (not including the VIP seats) in the lower bowl will be roughly $275 per game. If you thought those seats were empty this year, just wait until next year when no one can afford to sit there.
What does surprise me is that the ticket price increases are being announced mid-season. The Dolans are known for not increasing ticket prices when their teams do not make the playoffs. This is actually one of James Dolan’s biggest policies. However, regardless of the Rangers playoff situation (the Knicks are likely in), there will be a significant price hike. That is the price of not using tax-payer dollars to fund the renovations. The money had to come from somewhere, now we know where.
What scares me is when (not if) the ticket price increases hit the 400s, who will be able to afford to go to games?