In the early stages of a rebuild and with a potential lockout looming, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd. is doing its best to appease its most loyal basketball customers.
In a surprising move for an ownership group that has always been far more likely to raise rather than lower ticket prices, season ticket holders will benefit from renewing in a variety of ways over the next couple of years.
Most notably, prices for the 2010-11 season (if there is one) will be significantly cheaper.
According to MLSEL chief operating officer Tom Anselmi, lower bowl season seats will be dropped anywhere between 5-30% while upper bowl ducats will fall in the 10-almost-40% range, prices not seen since the dismal Rob Babcock era.
In an even bigger surprise: “We are freezing prices for 2012-13 and will pay out interest if there is a work stoppage next season,” Anselmi added.
The team will also be bringing back its draft party and various other “loyalty packages.”
“We’re doing a bunch of things to reward loyalty.” Anselmi said.
It is a wise move. While there is some intriguing young talent on hand, the NBA is as star-driven as ever and the Raptors are still a couple of standout players away from becoming relevant again. It might take a while until that happens, so keeping prices down is a sound decision for a franchise that has one playoff series win to its credit over its first 16 years.
The Raptors have slipped to 17th in average attendance (the team’s lowest mark since the 2005-06 season), are drawing 1,350 less fans per game than a season ago, about 2,200 less than during the 2008-09 campaign and about 3,000 less than in 2007-08.
In an attempt to woo fans that aren’t season seat holders, MLSEL will also be introducing dynamic pricing after experimenting with it in some sections this season.
“There are some trouble sections, we want to renew and grow and get a full building again,” Anselmi explained.
More than just season-ticket holders will benefit though.
Prices for single games will be set at the beginning of the campaign, but they will fluctuate on a monthly — and at times, even weekly — basis depending on calibre of opponent, day of the week and other factors.
Meaning those hoping to catch the Miami Heat’s all-star collection will pay significantly more than those still strangely infatuated with teams like the lowly, LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers.
“There is a floor,” cautioned Anselmi. “(Single-game buyers) never will pay less than season-seat holders.”
Anselmi referred updates on the status of Raptors general manager/president Bryan Colangelo to CEO Richard Peddie, but the belief remains that Colangelo will continue to be the architect of the Raptors as they attempt to turn things around.
At the gate and otherwise.