It's an economic truth as old as time itself: When the demand for something with a limited availability goes up, the price of getting it will go up too.
Knicks tickets are just such a commodity and they are hotter than Hades right now. The team has sold out all but two games this season, they are selling for two or three times face value on the secondary market and interest is only increasing since the arrival of Carmelo Anthony. So it was no surprise that the team announced Friday that they would be jacking up season ticket prices for the first time in six years.
There's sure to be some grumbling about the timing, especially among those who have held onto their tickets through all the lean years only to see the prices skyrocket with the first taste of success. Zach Lowe of SI.com had a splendid idea, giving a price break to those people who lived through the Isiah years, but the truth is that this is one of those times where everyone is going to have to swallow hard and grit their teeth.
The Knicks have only raised prices once in the last 10 years because James Dolan said he wouldn't charge more to watch a team that didn't make the playoffs. For all his faults, that's been a commendable part of Dolan's stewardship since modest price hikes wouldn't have done much to erode a fan base that remained amazingly loyal despite the rubbish placed in front of them. While it's true that Knicks tickets were already quite fully priced, it is hard to get too upset about what the team's doing here.
That's not because they're capitalizing on being winning and popular again, either. There's a long overdue renovation of the Garden underway to explain why prices are rising by an average of 49 percent (Rangers prices are heading up as well and MSG officials are adamant that this, not the basketball success, is why the prices are rising) before the 2011-2012 season. That's a big number, but it is buoyed by huge increases on the most expensive seats in the arena. Prices for nearly half of the seats in the arena will rise by 15 percent or less and there will be some seats that don't change in price at all.
There won't be PSLs, however, and that's something else that represents the Knicks well. Yes, they're spending less money than the Jets and Giants did for their new stadium, but they also made the choice to renovate a perfectly good building instead of erecting a new pleasure dome designed only to line the team's coffers. The football teams could have done the same and not forced out loyal fans, so let's be thankful that the Garden didn't go totally for broke right here.
At the end, we're left to shrug our shoulders. It costs more to be a winner than a loser, but it feels a lot better too.