THE EAGLES COULD GO 3-13 for three straight seasons and still fill their place. The Phils have one of baseball's most fan-friendly parks as a lure. The Flyers possess a solid core audience that hasn't shown visible signs of cracking.

The Sixers? They have their hands full coming off a 35-win season; it's a team that has

participated in one playoff series in the last 4 years. Understandably, average attendance in 2006-07 hit an all-time low at the Center (15,011), down more 9 percent from last season and 27 percent from its peak in 2001-02.

Clearly, no team has more work to do to put butts in the seats. Not all of that, says Sixers vice president of business operations Lara Price, is dependent on winning. "I would honestly say it's 50-50," she says. "I think it's a big part of it, but it's not the only thing."

Price says season-ticketholders, in general, told the team they "were very happy with the way the team played at the end."

Team officials won't have to wait long to gauge the honestly of those comments. Ticketholders had to re-up by April 30, they were told in a

letter, to avoid any price increase. While that sounds awful quick - a couple weeks after the season and almost 2 months before the team drafts its future - it's a renewal deadline that Dan Reed, the NBA's senior director of team business development, calls "one of the most consumer-friendly payment plans in the league for season-ticketholders." Sixers fans can pay over nine installments. It also helps establish what's available for ticketholders who want to upgrade; those selection dates are set for June 5-7.

Reed calls the earlier renewal deadline "a trend we have seen over the past few seasons." In addition to being tied into these multi-payment installment plans, it gives teams a chance to peddle tickets during a period when the basketball buzz is at its zenith: the playoffs. *

- Paul Vigna

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