Home Must See NBA All-Star weekend is a celebration tailored to an exclusive club

NBA All-Star weekend is a celebration tailored to an exclusive club

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If the average fan cant afford to attend the All-Star weekend then who are the players playing for?

This weekend Toronto will host the 65th annual NBA All-Star game, which should have every basketball fan frothing at the mouth. If you live in Toronto heres the good news: hometown gods Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are playing. Heres the bad news: unless youve stashed away a small fortune, you will be watching the four-day basketball festival from your couch.

According to StubHub, to attend the four marquee events the Celebrity Game, Rising Star Challenge, Dunk Contest and All-Star match and do it on the cheap, sitting in the nosebleeds, it would cost an estimated $978 per person. Floor seating will set you back upwards of $7,300. For the All-Star game alone, one seat could cost you $6,000 on the floor. Elsewhere, on Kijiji, one ticket for Saturday nights festivities is going for $1250 and TiqIQ are saying the average get-in price is around $785. And who knows how much the corporate packages are over at the NBA website. Whereever you look, its not cheap.

With Toronto fast becoming a basketball town, jacking up the prices is a smart by the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, if the goal is to increase the leagues revenue. But for a weekend that aims to give back to the fans it fails miserably. If the average fan cant get a hold of a ticket to watch Zach LaVine jump through the roof of the Air Canada Centre in the dunk contest, then Silver may as well cancel next years All-Star weekend because whats the point?

That astronomical ticket prices are not feasible for the average fan is not shocking to learn, and it is perhaps understandable why Silver is determined to make the All-Star weekend a corporate backslapping soiree. Last year it was reported that the Knicks and Nets claimed the All-Star event injected $200m into the local economy. Those are some delicious numbers but the worrying indication that the NBA cares more about its bank account than fan satisfaction is that this years ticket prices are up more than 150% when compared to the event in New York last year.

The NBA decided it would be best if they held onto 80% of the tickets and kept 1,000 seats for media, past and present players and their families, stakeholders and entertainment groups. The Raptors get to allocate 3,000 tickets among the diehards. Then, after all that, the general public get what is left.

Many who have been to an NBA All-Star weekend will say its the best time theyve ever had. The weekend is Comic-Con for basketball nerds. Fans will remember players trash talking each other, or when Allen Iverson shaved off his cornrows in the locker room. Fans may also recall the conversation between Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady that felt like standup schtick. But those are the memories created by those who can get in and the way Silver is treating his followers, its becoming a celebration tailored to an exclusive club.

In 2012, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and team president Michael Reinsdorf said they did not want the game to return to Chicago and that the cons outweighed the pros. Theyd have to force me to take the All-Star Game, Jerry Reinsdorf told ESPN . They take over the building, your season-ticket holders have to be in a lottery to see if they get tickets and then they dont get a good ticket. Really, no good can come out of it and all it can do is upset your fans.

Ed Snider, the former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, cited lack of tickets for season ticket holders as an issue and said he would never apply to host the event again after staging it in 2002. Its not worth the public relations nightmare, he said. Snider revealed that the NBA kept 18,000 available tickets out of a possible 20,444 seated First Union Center. The unreasonably high ticket prices for the All-Star weekend isnt just a Toronto thing, its an NBA thing: the host city benefits from hosting it, the NBA cashes in, but the local team and their fans, it seems, are the big losers.

If Silver wants to keep pushing the NBA All-Star weekend as a cash cow, then the event is not fulfilling its need in putting the fans first. If he wants to make amends he should drop the prices so the basketball community can attend; the same ones who buy seasonal digital passes, club merchandise and watch games in stadiums. The sad part about this weekend is that many Raptors fans will watch the All-Star game at bars or at home, instead of watching their heroes Lowry and DeRozan in the flesh. If the core NBA fans cant go, then who are the players playing for at the All-Star game?

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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