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OPINION: The Utah Jazz ticket price hike will price out the real fans

Utah Jazz fans react as the Jazz play the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the NBA playoffs at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on May 4, 2018. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

DISCLAIMER: The following is an opinion piece, and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

When I saw Utah Jazz season tickets prices are going up, my heart started racing.

I got nervous. I had a real, palm-sweating kind of panic, because I know this is more than just a price hike. This is something that could genuinely change the whole experience of watching a Jazz game.

A 150% price increase

Utah Jazz season ticket prices

The prices for season tickets for this year’s season and next year’s in upper bowl, where prices have seen the most dramatic changes. (Image: KSL Newsradio)

These tickets haven’t just gone up a little. It’s a huge price hike – monstrous.

Before, if you could handle the nosebleed section, you could get a season pass for $264 a person. Now, those same tickets are going to cost you $660 – more than twice as much as last year.

Normal people can’t afford that. Anyone who doesn’t want to watch a game alone is going to have to shell out $1,320 just to get a pair of the worst seats in the house, and for someone like me – a father who wants to encourage a love of the game in all four of his kids – the price just gets astronomical.

That makes me nervous. Every time I see tickets go up to prices that no normal family can afford, it makes me really nervous.

When ticket prices get this high, it prices out the younger crowd. It makes it so that the only people who can afford to go see the Jazz are the corporations and businesses that buy out whole rows of tickets and hand them out to clients who really just want to go home, or give them out as prizes for the employees who can name the most core principles in the corporate mission statement.

They don’t go to fans. And that changes the whole game.

Expensive tickets price out real fans

Utah Jazz Meet The Team Day

Jazz fans beg for autographs during a Meet The Team Day in September, 2018. (Photo: Deseret News)

I am a lifelong Jazz fan. The game is a huge part of my life, and I want it to be a part of my kids’ lives, too.

If it wasn’t for the Jazz, I wouldn’t be in news radio. As a 15-year-old kid, all I wanted to do with my life was find a way to get someone to pay me to sit around watching basketball games all day. That’s how I got into this business – because I figured out that KSL does that for Sports News producers.

Basketball became an obsession for me because, as a kid, my dad would take me to Jazz games every chance he got. We didn’t catch every game, but we went to 10 or 15 a year together, and every single one was amazing.

They were the best times of life, standing on my feet next to my dad, my face just turning beet-red cheering on our favorite team together.

It’s an experience I’ve always wanted to share with my kids.

But I haven’t. It just isn’t an option anymore

Under the new season ticket prices, I would have to pay $13,200 a year to get my family season tickets for seats where you can actually see what’s going on. So I just take my kids when I can, but I have to buy those tickets individually, when you can only buy them from secondary market companies like Ticket Master and StubHub. And once the tickets get into their hands, those seats you could buy for $6 with a season pass skyrocket up to $60 or more a seat.

I wish I could say that my kids are as big of Jazz fans as I was at their age, but I can’t.

I just wasn’t able to do for them what my dad did for me.

The fans are part of the experience

Jazz ticket prices

Utah Jazz fans cheer during Game 6 of the NBA playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on April 27, 2018. (Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

When normal people can’t afford tickets to sporting events, it changes the whole game. It turns the whole arena into a place full of bored businessmen trying to impress rich clients. Basketball becomes the backdrop to a business transaction, and that changes everything.

It’s already happened to the Super Bowl.

If you want to see where live sports are headed, go to the Super Bowl. I’ve been to two, and I can tell you that the atmosphere there is just so, incredibly boring.

You can’t find real fans at the Super Bowl, because they just can’t afford to go. You have to pay $3,000 a ticket to get in, and you have buys those tickets so far in advance that, by the time anyone knows who’s going to be playing, all the tickets are sold out.

The people there bought their tickets with no idea who was going to be playing. They aren’t there to cheer on a team that they’ve dedicated years of their lives to supporting. They’re just there because they want the Super Bowl experience.

So when Tom Brady throws the touchdown that wins the game, the place doesn’t shake with the roar of applause like it does at the Vivint Arena. You don’t hear the people scream with a joy that could deafen you.

You aren’t surrounded by people who eat, drink and breathe their team.

Because that’s what we do, here in Utah. That’s what the Jazz have been in our community for so long. We eat, drink, and breathe the Jazz.

That’s the kind of fan you want. That’s the kind of people you want filling your stadium.

Those are the people who fill the Vivint Arena right now. And those are the people we want to keep there.

Another side to the story

I feel strongly about this, but the Utah Jazz have the right to get their side in. That’s why we invited Frank Zang, Senior Vice President of Communications of the Utah Jazz to come on the Dave & Dujanovic show and share his side of the issue.

You can hear what he had to say about price hike on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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