BOSTON (CBS) – To renew or not renew, that is the question thousands of Boston Celtics’ season ticket holders are asking themselves this week after the team sent out renewal forms for next season.
For many fans, it’s tough to decipher what this team will look like in the future. The team has only played 36 games in a lockout shortened year, and the 2012-2013 season does not start for another seven months.
The team is asking season ticket holders to make a decision by March 12, three days before the trading deadline.
After four great years with the new big three, big changes are likely in the works with many expiring contracts on the team.
This year, it is like playing the lottery and a tougher decision for some ticket holders because of the economy. With gas prices closing in on five dollars per gallon, the average family might not have extra expendable money available. Even though ticket prices are staying the same, these added expenses might make a person or family think twice about renewing. At minimum, two tickets could cost up to five thousand dollars when food, parking and merchandise are included.
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Besides a basketball game, the Celtics try to sell a ticket as an experience with music, dancers, contests and video to attract fans, but the most important thing is something that cannot be artificially manufactured – winning.
On Sunday, after their win over the New York Knicks, the team held a “Chalk Talk” featuring Celtics legends Tommy Heinsohn and Satch Sanders, Co-owner Steve Pagliuca and Assistant General Manager Mike Zarren.
The event was used as an enticement to let ticket holders know more about the organization and where it is headed. This was an added bonus to the season ticket package, with some of the topics including old Celtics stories, player evaluations, statistical analysis and game preparations.
Some fans were pleased with the presentation, but many were left in displeasure. Case in point: when the talk started, sections 9 through 11 were filled to capacity; before it ended, half of the ticket holders had left.
One season ticket holder, Darren (who declined to give his last name) was unimpressed with the presentation. Wearing a replica Dennis Johnson jersey, he said “this sucks and was very boring. What a waste of time.” He remains uncommitted to whether he and his partner will renew their tickets.
What ticket holders like Darren and I want to know is how the Celtics plan to put a competitive team on the court next year, instead of talking about the current team which has no chance of winning a championship as currently constructed?
Stats: Celtics Team Stats
The good news is the team only has Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson and Paul Pierce under contract next year (Brandon Bass also has a player option that he will likely decline to hit the open market). This will give them enough money for up to two maximum contracts.
Though, it seems the team has never attracted a major free-agent and all of their major moves have either been draft picks or trades.
One thing the team has going for it, as former Celtic Cedric Maxwell said on Michael Felger’s CSN Sports Sunday show, is the “Doc Factor.” During his time as the Orlando Magic head coach, Doc Rivers managed to lure Tracy McGrady, Grant Hill and he nearly got Tim Duncan to go there. At the time Orlando wasn’t considered an NBA destination.
Is Doc Rivers another Bill Belichick to fans in whom they trust and lure that first major free agent?
Todd Hunter, who is a Celtics diehard season ticket holder since 1979, is confident the Celtics can make one last run this year if they stay together. Though, he acknowledges next year will be different. “I am encouraged that the front office can make the right decisions. We went 21 years between championships and if we have to wait another year it won’t be that bad.”
The team cannot afford another long drought without a competitive championship-caliber team if it hopes to retain season ticket holders and maintain its 229-plus sellout streak.
Sean “The Captain” McElroy is a Producer at the Sports Hub. He has covered all sports in Boston and traveled the world, but his true passion is the NBA and the Boston Celtics. The Captain has been a C’s season ticket holder for the last 9 years. Email him questions to answer each week at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seanmcelroy33