As a revamped team playing in a renovated Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks were poised to take over the city this season.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
The New York Giants’ improbable playoff run and Super Bowl title has made them the undisputed kings of the Big Apple. After the NBA lockout led to a two-month delay to the start of the season, injuries and poor play have left the Knicks under the radar and still struggling.
Following a stretch in which they lost 9 out of 10 games, a recent three-game winning streak has New York at 11-15 and just barely in the playoff hunt in the lockout-shortened, 66-game regular season.
Last season, bolstered by the signing of forward Amaré Stoudemire and the mid-season trade that brought in guard Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets, the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Taking advantage of that success and facing an $850 million renovation of “the world’s most famous arena,” Madison Square Garden Inc., owners of the Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers, announced an average Knicks season ticket price hike of 49 percent last spring.
This season, the Knicks have the highest average ticket price in the NBA at $117.47, according to Team Marketing Report’s annual survey, which does not include the premium seats. That’s more than double the league average of $48.48 and represents a 32 percent increase over the Knicks’ average last season.
TMR’s Fan Cost Index, which computes the cost of going to a game for a family of four, has the Knicks at an NBA-leading $608.78, which once again is more than twice the league average of $301.46.
The poor start had led to a drop in ticket prices on the resale market. “It’s been so-so,” New York-area broker Tom Patania, owner of Select-A-Ticket, told TicketNews, “kind of like the team. Coming off last year, I thought sales would be a lot better.”
On the secondary market, the average Knicks ticket price has dropped more than 28 percent, from a high of $332.13 before the Christmas Day opener against the rival Boston Celtics at MSG, down to its current $236.93, according to ticket search site TiqIQ.com. Still, that secondary market average remains TiqIQ’s second-highest in the NBA, with the highest average belonging to the Los Angeles Lakers ($273.53).
On the court, with Anthony out for up to two weeks with an injury and Stoudemire missing games due to the death of his brother, the Knicks have found an unexpected spark in point guard Jeremy Lin, an undrafted free agent from Harvard who was picked up after being cut by two NBA teams in December.
Lin, the first American-born NBA player of Chinese or Taiwanese decent, has averaged 25.3 points in the three-game winning streak, including a 28-point, eight-assist effort in his first start, a 99-88 victory over the Utah Jazz on February 6 at MSG.
Lin’s breakout play, dubbed “Lin-sanity” by the New York tabloids, has at least temporarily hiked up both ticket prices and demand. Today’s Friday night, February 10, 2012, match-up with the Lakers, already one of the most sought-after games on the Knicks schedule, saw four times the normal transaction volume on the secondary market, according to ticket search site SeatGeek.com.
Prices have also gotten a boost from the fact that it’s Kobe Bryant and the Lakers’ only MSG visit of the season — unless the teams meet again in the NBA Finals. The game is among the most expensive in the league this season, with an average ticket price of $412.92 and “get-in” prices starting at $125, according to TiqIQ.
Even resale prices for the Knicks’ February 15 game against the lowly Sacramento Kings at MSG were up 36 percent, to $121, according to SeatGeek’s New York Daily News blog, “Ticket Geek,” which cited Lin’s sudden heroics as a factor. There are still bargains to be had, though. TiqIQ.com lists plenty of tickets to the Kings’ game at $36–$40 and starting prices for the February 17 game vs. the New Orleans Hornets at $34.
For a real steal, NBA fans should look across the Hudson River at New Jersey Nets games. The Nets, in their final season in New Jersey before they move to Brooklyn, NY, next season, have had tickets listed on the secondary market for just a penny twice this season. Tickets to the Nets’ February 11, 2012, game at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ, against the San Antonio Spurs start at $2 on TiqIQ.com.