Knicks tickets to see 'significant' hike

NEW YORK -- If you want to purchase season tickets to watch Carmelo Anthony and the new-look New York Knicks play next season, you're going to have to pony up.

Madison Square Garden announced Friday that the price of Knicks season tickets will increase by an average of 49 percent for the 2011-2012 season.

The price for New York Rangers season tickets will increase by an average of 23 percent next season.

But the Garden will not sell personal seat licenses in the arena.

The New York Jets and New York Giants sold the controversial PSL -- a one-time fee to purchase a license for a seat in the stadium -- for seats in the New Meadowlands Stadium, which opened in 2010.

The Garden is undergoing a three-year planned reconstruction. The first phase of the reconstruction -- reconfigured seating in the arena's lower bowl, an expanded lower concourse and the addition of suites -- is planned to debut next season.

Scott O'Neil, president of MSG Sports, said the resulting amenities associated with the arena's ongoing remodeling were a main factor for the "significant" price increase.

O'Neil said the Knicks' recent acquisition of Anthony did not play a role in the increase, but "anticipated team performance" was a factor.

The Knicks acquired All-Star Amare Stoudemire during the summer, signing him to a five-year, $100 million contract. They completed a trade with the Denver Nuggets for Anthony on Feb. 22.

The Knicks, who haven't qualified for the postseason since 2004, are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, with 20 games left in the regular season.

O'Neil said that team performance or anticipated team performance is a factor that is "highly weighted" in the decision to set ticket prices.

"The [arena's three-year] transformation is the dominant reason why prices are where they are. There are several different factors," O'Neil said. "But these prices were made before Carmelo came."

Season tickets will be offered at 20 different price points for Knicks fans, with seats starting at $35 per game. The most expensive seat in the house -- which currently sells for $3,000 -- will increase to $3,600 next season, according to O'Neil. The team did not release any other ticket prices. They have not stated prices for individual seats.

The steepest increase in prices will be applied to the best seats in the house.

Prices for nearly one-fourth of the seats in the Garden will increase by at least 50 percent.

The biggest increase for Knicks tickets -- 173 percent -- will be applied to 40 seats in sections closest to the floor. And prices for 1,238 seats in premier sections will increase by 100 percent.

Prices for nearly half of the arena's season tickets will increase by 15 percent or less; 10 percent of seats will increase by less than 5 percent; and 1,088 seats will not change prices for next season. They actually may decrease, the team said.

Tickets will be offered at 17 different price points for Rangers fans, with the least expensive seat selling for $39 per game.

The biggest increase for Rangers tickets -- a 198 percent addition -- will be applied to 32 seats in the sections closest to the ice.

Rates for 11 percent of seats in the closest sections to the ice will be raised 50 percent or more. The remaining 11,789 seats in the building will increase 10 percent or less.

Certain seating packages will include amenities such as all-inclusive dining and views of athletes entering and exiting the arena. Pricing for seats without such amenities will increase by an average of 28 percent for Knicks tickets and 13 percent for Rangers tickets.

O'Neil said that Madison Square Garden studied and consulted with other teams who have recently opened new complexes. Garden staffers also polled fans for their input on ticket policies and seating preferences in the new arena.

There was significant public backlash over the New York Yankees' initial ticket prices in 2009, the year the team opened its new ballpark.

Twelve days after the Yankees opened the park, they slashed prices to some of the most expensive seats in half. Many of the seats -- priced around $2,500 -- went unsold.

The Knicks have the second-highest average ticket price in the NBA this season at $88.66, according to Reuters. The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers have the highest average ticket price at $99.25.

As part of the first phase of the reconstruction, sections up to the 200 level will be combined into a cohesive lower bowl of seating, eliminating the walkway between sections. There will be fewer seats in the new lower level than are currently available in the arena (670 for Knicks games, 530 for Rangers games).

But O'Neil said that all fans holding season tickets in the lower level will be able to purchase seats in the lower level in the new arena because the seats lost were not sold as season tickets.

"We're doing everything we can to make this a smooth transition," O'Neil said.

No fans will have the exact same vantage point if they choose to purchase the same seat they have in the current arena, with each seat shifting slightly.

Seats will be sold on an "early-bird special" beginning April 4.

"I hope there's not sticker shock here," O'Neil said. "We believe that it's a fair value here -- with the increased amenities that you're going to get in the new building."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.