The Sixers might be limping to the finish line this season, but anticipation over the return of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to the lineup next year has patient fans hoping the trust they've put into the team over the past four seasons will finally pay off.
Not surprisingly, that anticipation is causing fans to flock to the team's box office. Already, the Sixers have deposits from more than 2,000 new season-ticket holders, more than double the number they had at this time last season. Despite the demand, the Sixers say they've kept their ticket prices flat for next season on all upper-level seats and raised prices modestly (4 to 9 percent) on seats in the lower level, based on their proximity to the court.
The Sixers are also planning to convert about 300 seats in Sections 106 and 108 into a "VIP Experience," featuring more comfortable seats, all-you-can-eat vendor food and free sodas, as well as access to the members-only Cadillac Grille. Fans have been forced onto a waiting list for the past two seasons, waiting patiently for more luxury seats to be added in the Wells Fargo Center.
But a small group of season-ticket holders who say the Sixers promised their prices wouldn't go up by more than 10 percent are angry over the move to upgrade their seats, which in some cases are being accompanied by a hefty price increase.
Season-ticket holders in Sections 106 and 108 have been informed that if they want to keep their existing seats for next year, their prices are going up — in some cases by more than 200 percent.
"This whole thing is crazy," said one fan who purchased season tickets last year, but preferred to remain anonymous. "The Phillies didn't do this in 2008 after they won the World Series."
Despite being told rates for future seasons would lock in when the tickets were purchased last year, the season-ticket holder was recently informed that the prices on the seats are going up 218 percent, from $4,730 for the season to $15,050.
Another fan, who also preferred to remain anonymous, was informed about a similar price increase by a Sixers ticket representative on the seats in Section 106 Row E that were purchased three seasons ago.
"I was led to believe that my loyalty would enable me to renew my seat location based on 'market' price increases but below the new list price," the fan said. "It was never conveyed that my seat location might require that I also purchase VIP premium services."
According to a front-office employee, season-ticket holders affected by the price increase were contacted by their ticket representative a little more than two weeks ago. The ticket holders also have been given the option of choosing new seats in the lower level that the Sixers say are located at a comparable proximity to the court. In some cases, the cost of those new seats is actually lower than what those season-ticket holders have been paying.
But some season-ticket holders complain that the alternative locations they've been offered by the team aren't close to being comparable to the seats they'd be giving up.
"I just feel they owe us something better than what they're offering," one season-ticket holder said, noting the seats offered at close to the same price in Section 109 Row 24 were "sub-optimal."
There are four riser sections in the Wells Fargo Center. While Sections 106 and 108 will be converted to premium seating, seats in Sections 118 and 120 will remain normal seats, meaning season-ticket holders won't experience a similar price increase this season.
The affected fans have until March 23 to make a decision about keeping their seats at the new prices, or choosing comparable seats being offered by the team in the lower level. In April, the Sixers will offer season-ticket holders the option to purchase unrenewed seats as part of their "Select-a-Seat" program.