May 19, 1994

The overriding reason behind a team’s decision to raise ticket prices is simple:

It’s because it can.

No team with even a mildly involved owner will raise ticket prices unless there is ample evidence that the market will accept it. Fans never greet the higher prices with glee, but if season ticket holders bear it with a growl of resignation, the team will cash in.

Celtics fans likely growled, but few walked away.

Celtics owner Paul Gaston, one year after taking control of the team upon the death of his father, Don Gaston, had reportedly prompted discussions over pricing. The first increase would accompany the Celtics through their final season at the old Boston Garden, the second would come during their first season at the new Shawmut Center.

(Before long, the arena would be called the FleetCenter, then TD Banknorth Garden and, finally, TD Garden.)

The stated reason for mulling over a price hike to attend the games of a team coming off a 32-50 season was fairly straightforward. The highest ticket price was $45, the lowest in the NBA. The average ticket price was $31, higher than 22 teams. A case could be made that the Celtics were justified in considering the higher prices.

Still, when your team sinks from championship contender to 18 games under .500, it takes a good deal of bravado to raise prices, with a warning that another hike is coming next year.