Fan Loyalty Has A Price

Indiana Pacers v Toronto Raptors

The Raptors look destined to miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season for the first time in franchise history – a real “feat” considering the futility of past eras of Raptors basketball – but you wouldn’t know it by the nine sellouts they’ve had this season or the 18,182 fans they average per game.

That passion, dedication and general loyalty among the Raptors’ rabid fanbase has been well documented over the years despite the team’s lack of success, and now fans will pay for that loyalty, literally, as MLSE will increase Raptors (and Maple Leafs) ticket prices by 2.5 per cent in 2013-14.

To be fair, the organization did slash ticket prices in 2011 after the first post-Bosh season, kept the lower prices in effect for this season and look to floor one of the more costly rosters in franchise history next year, but does MLSE really expect fans to be understanding when Tom Anselmi talks about rising costs?

It’s one thing if the more expensive to operate team was in playoff contention right now, if fans were still watching meaningful games in mid-March or if they looked like a surefire playoff team for next year. Heck, if the Rudy Gay led Raptors are a pleasant surprise in 2013-14 and are a top-eight seed at this time next season, the organization probably could have gotten away with a price increase for 2014-15 even greater than 2.5 per cent.

But to do it now, when there are still as many questions about this team’s future as there are answers, just seems a bit cold. Then again, the only question MLSE needed to ask themselves was will the fans still come out at the new price level? And the answer will most likely remain a resounding yes.

Having said that, as tiny as 2.5 per cent is, if you thought there were unrealistic fan expectations this season, just wait until October, because no one’s going to listen to excuses for an under-achieving team they’re paying more to see.


If you’re interested, here’s the message to season seat holders that accompanies the notice to renew. Note the “franchise player” statement…

The addition of new franchise player Rudy Gay, as well as acquisitions Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields, and rookies Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross, have us all very excited about the future. Our President & General Manager Bryan Colangelo and Head Coach Dwane Casey are committed to bringing championship basketball to Toronto.”

In addition, the Raptors included “Jonas’ 17 reasons why you have to see the Raptors as a season seat holder live at Air Canada Centre,” of which very few have to do with winning basketball games.

Comments (13)

  1. I’ve been to five games this year and they were all either freebies from friends companies, the lower-bowl giveaway for TFC season ticket holders, or I’ve paid below face on places like StubbHub.

    I do have a few friends who are season ticket holders but in this day and age not sure why people still bother. Generally they end up giving away a good portion of them.

    Better to cherry-pick IMO and then you don’t have to worry too much about the increase.

    I could be wrong but I think 2.5% is higher than inflation and thus…a gouge.

  2. Went to my first Raptors game on Sunday against the Cavs.

    Been all about hockey of my 22 years in life, (from playing, coaching, reffing and everything else) but still have followed the raptors to some extent. I kind of got sick and tired of the whole lockout thing, and love the fact there’s only 1 canadian team in the NBA as it adds that “1 vs the world” mentality whenever i watch games or hear about the raps in the news.

    Raps won and we got our pizza the next day, but for someone who enjoys buds over suds, $10 for a beer just isint worth it. (all IMO obviously) As much as i love the atmosphere of games, for some reason i just HATEEE not having commentary.

    I went once and saw what i thought it was going to be, a fan base that DESERVES the world, yet cant even get playoffs. Wont be going again for a long time, but will never miss a game on t.v.

  3. What’s more frustrating to me, is that I’m pretty sure Tom and his team will achieve bonuses related to that 2.5% revenue increase. Even more likely, if we are a pleasant surprise next year, we’ll be hit with that bigger cost increase anyway. The MLSE group never shies away from a chance to raise the prices for their products.

  4. Looks like those new luxury tax bills, courtesy of Bryan Colangelo, are going to be paid for by us fans.

    Guess who won’t be going to a game any time soon, THIS GUY!

  5. Raptors as current are a .500 team at 21-21 for their last 42 games, a pretty large sampling, after the first 22 get to know games with 7/8 new players including 3 rookies and heavy road schedule @ 4-18 which effectively killed this years chances.
    With a solid core in place and the addition of 2/3 vetern players who can contribute on a regular basis, a better than 50/50 team should emerge.
    A 2.5% increase would be a not unreasonable cost to incur, especialy considering the reductions in 2011 in responce to the early rebulding effort

  6. MLSE should retire the Raptor and the Leafs Polar Bear and have a guy in a giant middle finger suit as the new teams’ mascot.

    • Great idea. It would surely cut costs and boost efficiency to have only one mascot for both teams.

  7. Ah MLSE. The Acronym that just keeps on giving.

    -Mediocrity Loving Senior Executives

    or, for the more highbrow, Milquetoast Loving Senior Executives

    -Marketers (of) Losing Sports Enterprise
    -Manufacturing Losers Since Establishment

    and the old standby:

    -Making Losing Seem Easy

    The price increase is pretty unjustifiable, but then again with many gate receipts lost due to the NHL lockout maybe MLSE love trying to spread the price increase love to all franchises in order to decrease the financial hit of lost Leafs revenue.

    • * should read ‘maybe MLSE is trying to spread to spread the price increase love …’

  8. They say j.v and ross have them excited ? Wouldnt they have to play j.v in the 4th quarter . Id be pretty pissed off if i pajd for a higher ticket and got to watch aron gray in the 4th and allen anderson put up a million awful 3′s . Mlse is just as dumb as Bc .

  9. I don’t go to Raptors games; but as a fan who has watched this disaster of a franchise, I’m pissed off for the people who do.

  10. They haven’t had to raise prices these past few years because of the currency change helping them out so much.

    What are their prices relative to the rest of the NBA?

  11. DR, SeƱor Google is your friend.

    Here is a link to an article a month old from Business Insider:

    The Raptors come in at 16th highest average ticket price. Doing a very qucik scan, in terms of value for dollar, in that buying a ticket actually supports a franchise in which the GM has a functional brain stem, an average Memphis ticket at 29.49, an average Indiana ticket at 31.62, and an average Golden State ticket at 35.70 are downright steals when you compare what the average Toronto ticket at 46.13 supports (Colangelo’s Master Plan To Monopolize NBA Mediocrity).

    I’m not an economist, but there must be some supply and demand arguments to explain some of the differences. I’d like to think that if Toronto had Memphis’ record Toronto’s average ticket price would probably near the bottom of the top third in ticket prices and not near the middle where it is now.

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