The Curious Case of the Sixers' Upper Deck

The Curious Case of the Sixers' Upper Deck

As Enrico and Roob Frank pointed out earlier this morning, the Sixers are still having trouble getting people physically in the building. Although the TV numbers are up, an encouraging sign about the wider interest level across the Delaware Valley, the increase in viewership might only be sending the the Sixers even further down attendance rankings. Even the promise of an improved "in-game experience" might not be enough to convince fans to part with the extra cash necessary to take in a game when they could watch the game for far cheaper at home.

With all these factors in play, consider the following question: If no one is coming, and attendance is really hurting, why couldn't I score three seats in the upper bowl today?

I ended up heading down to the game this afternoon with two buddies, looking to cash in on the team's deeply discounted ticket prices throughout the month of January. Much to my surprise, I was informed by a ticket representative at the box office that the entire upper bowl had been sold out, and the cheapest available tickets could be purchased for $49.95 each.

This...was rather perplexing, but not totally unthinkable. After all, $15 tickets for a winning basketball team are a steal, especially in this economy. And with hot dogs on sale for a buck, again, it was totally possible that they really had sold out the upper bowl.

And I suppose it is still possible that that's actually what happened; but if they did sell out upstairs, then a lot of people just failed to show. There were multiple rows in the mezzanine that sat completely vacant throughout the game. There were anywhere from 15-20 consecutive rows without patrons across almost every section downstairs.

Unable to focus on the exploits of Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino, I started wondering what was actually going on with the sales department.

The announced attendance for today's game came out to 17,281. There were, maybe, if we're ball-parking it, 13,000 in the building. But like I said, I couldn't get three together in the mez without finding a well-meaning gentleman in the parking lot who charged other than the face value.

There are plenty of tickets in that building that are bought and paid for. There would have to be to announce a number like 17,281. But the Sixers are now encountering a problem beyond a lack of interest.

Even if the team still has plenty of cheap seats available for those who buy in advance -- or purchase from the ticket brokers, scalpers and others who have bought up seats in bulk -- the lower bowl might just be pricing fans out of the building. After all, whether the fans are coming or not, the upper bowl has been taken care of and will continue to sell out, in way or another, each night. But the lower level, the one you see when you watch the game at home, that might be the real problem moving forward.

We asked you earlier, "What's keeping you away?" Now we're asking, "What happened to all those allegedly sold tickets?"

Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 78, Providence 68

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Instant Replay: No. 1 Villanova 78, Providence 68

BOX SCORE

Seniors Josh Hart and Kris Jenkins combined for 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and No. 1 Villanova held off Providence, 78-68, in a Big East game at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
 
Villanova extended a four-point halftime lead to as much as 20 points before hot-shooting Providence closed to within nine with five minutes left. Villanova then went on a 13-3 run to put the game out of reach.
 
Hart had 25 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Wildcats, and Jenkins added 19 points, four boards and four assists. Both shot over 50 percent.
 
Sophomore Mikal Bridges scored 15 points, matching his Big East career high, and also had three rebounds and three assists, and Jalen Brunson contributed 13 points to go with three rebounds and four assists.
 
Providence stayed in the game by shooting 13 for 26 from three against the No. 3 three-point shooting defense in Division 1.
 
What it means
Villanova improved to 19-1 overall and 7-1 and in first place in the Big East. The Wildcats have won five in a row since losing at Butler on Jan. 4.
 
Providence fell to 13-8 and 3-5 in the conference and 1-6 on the road. The Friars have lost six of eight since an 11-2 start.
 
Villanova is now 47-34 all-time at the Wells Fargo Center but 14-2 in its last 16 games at the South Philly arena.
 
Stat of the day
Providence shot better from three (50 percent) than two (44 percent). The Friars made 13 threes and just nine two-pointers.

Turning point
Providence trailed by just four at halftime at 35-31, but Bridges opened the second half with a steal and fast-break reverse layup and a jumper from the top of the key to start an 8-0 run that gave Villanova a 12-point lead. The Friars never got any close than eight points the rest of the game.
 
By the numbers
• Providence’s 50 percent shooting from three is the highest against ‘Nova since North Carolina shot 65 percent in the national championship game on April 4 in Houston.

• Villanova’s bench scored just two points.

• Providence’s 13 threes are the most by a Big East team against Villanova since Doug McDermott and Creighton had 21 in a 28-point win three years ago this week.

• Rodney Bullock led Providence with 17 points (3 for 5 from three), Jalen Lindsey added 14 (4 for 7 from three) and Isaiah Jackson came off the bench to score 12 (3 for 3 from three).

• Darryl Reynolds' last two double-digit rebound games have both been against Providence.
 
What's next
Villanova travels to Milwaukee for a Tuesday night game against Marquette. The Golden Eagles are 12-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big East with a game later Saturday at Creighton.
 
Villanova has won nine straight games against Marquette, since the Golden Eagles — then ranked No. 17 — came back from 18 points down to win 82-78 at the Wells Fargo Center in January 2012.