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?"

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

Best of NBA: Rockets crush Pelicans to spoil Cousins' debut

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists (see full recap).

LeBron triple-double powers Cavs past Knicks
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 48th career triple-double and Kyrie Irving scored 23 points, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-104 victory over the New York Knicks, who hung on to superstar Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose at Thursday's trade deadline.

James scored 18 points and had 13 rebounds with 15 assists for his sixth triple-double of the season.

Anthony, the subject of trade rumors because of a strained relationship with Knicks President of Basketball Operations Phil Jackson, scored 20 points, going 9 of 25 from the field.

Kyle Korver scored 20 points for Cleveland, which is 8-1 in February and has beaten New York 10 straight times.

Courtney Lee had 25 points for New York, which has lost six of seven and is 12th in the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Pistons rally from 18 down to beat Hornets in OT
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 33 points, including three 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter during a pulsating Detroit rally, and the Pistons outlasted the Charlotte Hornets 114-108 in overtime Thursday night.

Caldwell-Pope scored Detroit's last 11 points of regulation, and his 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds to play tied the game at 100. Kemba Walker scored Charlotte's final nine points of the fourth, but the Pistons forced him to give up the ball on the last possession, and Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer that could have won it.

Detroit, which was behind by 18 in the third quarter, never trailed in the overtime. Caldwell-Pope's 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining put the Pistons up 110-102.

Charlotte led 85-70 at the start of the fourth but missed 14 of its first 15 shots in the period, enabling Detroit to cut into the lead.

Walker scored 34 points. Tobias Harris had 25 for the Pistons (see full recap).