Who’d be crazy enough to charge boutique prices for a minor league sporting event? Besides Jeff Wilpon, I mean. After a brief brush with insolvency, the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam have presented a questionable new business plan writes the Californian’s Zach Ewing, to reintroduce the franchise as “entertainment for the elite” (link swiped from Ridiculous Upside)
The Jam announced last month that, upon returning this fall, it would vacate spacious Rabobank Arena and instead play in its cozy practice facility on Norris Road.
Jam owners Stan Ellis and David Higdon (above) further unveiled Friday their revamped business model for the franchise, and it includes $40,000-a-year suites for 12, a cigar room, an open bar and dinner served to all 550 guests at the Jam Center.
That’s right, only 550, and if you can’t pay for a 21-game season ticket — the cheapest season seats range from $3,000-$4,000 — you’ll have a hard time getting in.
Ellis estimates that low attendance figures and high overhead cost at Rabobank in the team’s first three years cost him roughly $1 million a year. With that in mind, he’s not concerned with pricing out the average fan.
“You get tired of it, frankly,” he said. “… You get tired of going out there to the community and killing yourself … and at the end of the day, you’ve got nothing. So if anybody wants to give us any (trouble) for just being a private business, I’ll say, ‘Well, where were you supporting us when I was spending a million bucks a year?'”
It’s a pretty ambitious scheme, and one I hope the owners of the Austin Toros are willing to consider in partnership with, well, me. If Bakersfield can fill $40,000 suites to watch the D-League, I’m pretty sure I could pick up some lawn chairs from Loews and peddle some ultra-exclusive courtside tix to see the new-look Toros take on the development circuit’s leading lights on my driveway. And I’ve already got the halftime entertainment picked out.