B-ball fans get fined

Q: What can soar higher than a young power

forward about to slam dunk a basketball?

A: The price a fan must pay to see it happen.

Since the 1991-92 season, NBA ticket prices have gone up an incredible 100 percent, nearly three times the rate of inflation for consumer goods and services. And now for the first time, basketball has the highest ticket prices among the four major spectator sports. This escalation (along with player salaries) has reached ridiculous proportions and threatens to make the sport out-of-bounds for most working people.

We recently went to a Sacramento Kings game and can understand the long lines at the ATM. Before one gets into the ARCO center, the Kings charge $7 for one parking spot (it was $6 last year), $6.50 for a cup of beer and $15 for a hat.

Of course the real killer was the price of admission. The ticket to see some men in shorts run up and down the court cost an astronomical $99.50. We noticed that there were few children nearby.

Fortunately, the cost of our ticket was picked up by a company, and that is increasingly where the money comes from because middle-class families can’t afford the luxury of attending a game.

A “fan cost index” compiled by Team Marketing Report said a family of four in Sacramento will shell out a whopping $243 for one evening of basketball. They get average-priced tickets, parking, food, beverages, two programs and two caps. The report calculates that the cost of an NBA game for the family is about 30 percent of the average household’s weekly earnings.

Fans can only conclude that they can either take the family to a game or send their offspring to college. The middle-income and lower-income fans are being priced out of the game. And that’s really too bad, because working families used to go to a game to see the stars in the flesh and be encouraged to follow the team. Now they can only watch on TV, and only a limited amount of that unless they shell out for specially priced cable packages. This will, eventually, further erode interest among working families and hurt the success of the team in the long run.

We’d prefer to see the Kings follow the Warriors. Golden State announced this year that the team would reduce the price of tickets by 10 percent on average. Some lower-level tickets came down by eight dollars so their fans can avoid nose bleeds.

But I guess we shouldn’t grouse too much about the cost. After all, the Atlantic Richfield Company had to pay $10 million to get their name on the arena.