José Luis Villegas /

Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger photographs fans who came to watch the NBA draft at the Firestone Public House last month.

Editorial: Don’t price out loyal fans in new Sacramento Kings arena

Published: Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014 - 8:17 am

It’s quality over quantity when it comes to NBA arenas these days. So the Sacramento Kings aren’t adding lots more seats in their planned new home downtown. Instead, the team plans many more premium seats – at premium prices – to pump up profits.

But in building the state-of-the art arena, the Kings must not close the door on loyal fans who can’t afford VIP treatment. It’s all taxpayers footing more than half the bill for the $477 million arena, not just well-heeled ones.

While the Kings say they have made no final decisions on ticket prices, team President Chris Granger pledges that some inexpensive tickets will be available and that fans shouldn’t fear a “massive” price hike. Team executives say they’re committed to making tickets accessible to a broad range of fans – and say it’s not only the right thing to do, but in the team’s long-term self-interest.

The Kings need to keep that commitment – and city leaders must do what they can to hold them to it.

Ideally, there would be a similar price range at the new arena as at Sleep Train Arena. Last season, the team offered more than 25,000 single-game “value-priced” tickets starting at just $10. Season tickets for 2014-15 start at about $730 for nosebleed seats and $2,100 for lower-level spots. They reach as much as $28,000 for prime courtside seats.

It’s worth noting that as the regional economy tanked – and the team’s on-court performance was mediocre at best – the average Kings ticket price actually declined, from about $60 in 2008-09 to $43 last season.

The average price is certain to increase in the new arena, scheduled to open in October 2016. There will be more seats closer to the court, plus twice as many luxury suites, semi-private mini-suites and other premium seats. These more expensive seats will make up as many as 15 percent of the 17,500 seats in the new arena, compared with about 6 percent at Sleep Train.

The team says that the amenities that come with the premium seats will be worth the price, and that the new arena’s features will enhance the experience for all fans, regardless of where they sit.

In total capacity, the new arena would be the second-smallest in the league, just like Sleep Train. That’s intentional, following the current sports economics. Cozier arenas produce more consistent sellouts, driving fans to buy season tickets that are the financial foundation of franchises, as The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler and Ryan Lillis reported.

That season ticket base, however, isn’t made up just of corporations and fat cats. Fans in the cheap seats have supported the team during some rather lean times. Their loyalty shouldn’t be cast aside now.

Read more articles by the Editorial Board

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