Utah Jazz: Sticker shock for some fans as team raises season-ticket prices

Courtesy of the Salt-Lake Tribune:

The team has yet to reveal any price changes for single-game tickets next season. But season-ticket prices for next season have increased by an average of 5 percent in the upper bowl and 7 percent in most of the lower bowl, according to Jazz officials.

Ticket holders like Desmuke and her husband, Robert, were asked to pony up substantially more than that. The couple said they had to give up their ninth-row seats along the baseline when they learned the cost was going up 38 percent, from $100 per seat per game to $138.

Fans who have owned seats in rows 3 through 12 along the sidelines of the court, meanwhile, have seen even larger increases, as the Jazz renovate the arena and reconfigure their premium ticket packages.

“We have worked closely with the NBA and made some market adjustments in pricing,” Larry H. Miller Group’s vice president of communications Frank Zang said. “As part of the renovation, we have rescaled the pricing in the arena based on demand, retention rates and market comparisons.”

Upper bowl seats start as low as $6 per game. Lower bowl seats can be had starting at $47 per game. With the price increase, the Jazz’s average ticket price for next season will rank 16th among the league’s 30 teams.

The $125-million renovation of Vivint Smart Home Arena is being funded privately on the front end, with up to $22.7 million in tax breaks coming over time. Jazz officials said ticket prices were not being raised to pay for those renovations but said they believed the renovations and recent success of the team justified the increase.

Some seats will be lost as new floor suites are installed. Rows 3 through 12 along the court sidelines will be part of what Jazz officials are calling their “super club” on the second level of the arena. Those ticket packages include parking, hospitality and dining.

They also come at a hefty increase.

Arlene Ellis has been going to games since the Jazz first played at the Salt Palace. She was sitting in her usual seats this season: the first row of green seats across from the team’s bench in Section 18. The pair cost her family $15,000, she says. With new boxes coming in, Ellis is having to move. And she says she’s having to find ways to offset the cost of her $26,000 bill for next season.

“I expected a little bit of a bump,” she said. “They’ve done well the last couple of years and this year, making it to the second round, as short as it was. But I didn’t ever dream it would be like this.”

Ken Ament, a construction business owner who has shared season tickets with a group of friends for years, said his longtime seats were removed to make space for the new suites. Ament was offered tickets eight rows up for about twice the price.

“We just looked at that and went, ‘Nah, that’s not even fair,'” he said. “We just all said no.”

“I can’t raise my rates over 100 percent in one year, that’s for sure,” he added. “I’ll probably go to a few games next year and see where I can get my tickets, but the season tickets are gone.”

Jazz officials, however, say retention and sales have been strong overall despite the price increases.

Ellis said her family did renew their season tickets but planned to sell a chunk of them to deal with the spike in price.

Desmuke gave up her seats but couldn’t give up on the Jazz entirely, instead opting to move farther away from the court.

“Unfortunately I have a Jazz habit that I’m not ready to give up yet,” she said. “So we had no other choice but to move.”