Knicks Succeed by Selling an Intangible: Hope

HOWARD BECK

As short-term investments go, a Knicks season-ticket plan might seem
rather ill fated. Fans last summer were asked to send thousands of
dollars to a 32-win team that had added no significant talent and was
trudging toward the second year of a wait-now, rebuild-later plan.

Yet Anthony D’Inverno happily spent $2,500 for a seat in Section 329 at Madison Square Garden. It was a small leap of faith in the present, and a huge leap of hope for the near future.

In July, the Knicks will be flush with salary-cap space and chasing LeBron James. D’Inverno, a 29-year-old investment banker, saw an opportunity, and an urgency.

“It’s the right year to do it,” said D’Inverno, a first-time season-ticket buyer. “It’s, ‘We might not be able to if we don’t grab them now, if they get LeBron.’ ”

D’Inverno said he was also encouraged by the Knicks’ direction under Coach Mike D’Antoni. They are not profoundly talented but they play hard most nights — “It’s been enjoyable to watch,” he said.

Optimism, apparently, is contagious. The Knicks have signed up more than 3,000 new full-season subscribers since last spring, a 10-year high for the franchise and the third-highest total in the league.

Despite a devastating recession and the malaise of eight straight losing seasons, the Knicks are averaging 19,604 people per game, a 3 percent increase over last season and the fifth-best mark in the league. They sold out 15 of their first 22 home games and should easily surpass the 23 sellouts they had last season. The Garden has been filled to 99 percent of capacity, on average.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/sports/basketball/24knicks.html?ref=basketball

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