Suns freeze prices, gimmicks likely ahead

It won't be easy keeping US Airways Center this full.

It won't be easy keeping US Airways Center this full.

The Suns announced over the weekend that they are freezing 2009-10 season ticket prices, a no-brainer move in this economy.

With word of the salary cap and luxury cap going down in the NBA and with many experts expecting small-market baseball teams to be just mauled by the economic crisis at the gates, it will be very interesting to see how pro sports franchises deal with what’s going on in the real world.

“It is not ‘business as usual’ for our season ticket holders in this challenging economy,” Suns president Rick Welts said in a press release.

It’s really ridiculous that Scott Boras and Frank McCourt are arguing over whether Manny Ramirez’s salary will be deferred on a two-year, $45 million deal and that Kurt Warner feels the Cardinals aren’t showing the love by offering $20 million over two years, but ask guys like Bobby Abreu and Orlando Hudson how the economy is affecting player salaries.

Mark Cuban has talked about how the Summer of 2009 will likely be the Year of the Bargain because seemingly the entire league is either hemorrhaging money, waiting for the Summer of 2010, or both, meaning teams willing and able to take advantage will find studs like Shawn Marion at bargain basement prices.

As for the pricing issue, I can’t imagine any team besides the Yankees in any American professional sport not at least freezing ticket prices, if not slashing prices altogether.

Teams, especially in the NBA, are losing money and making pieces like Raef LaFrentz’s Expiring Contract more valuable than quality NBA players owed big money long term. When attendance predictably dwindles, I expect teams to offer more and more gimmicks to get fans in the arenas for cheap, so they can still make a killing on overpriced concessions.

The Suns’ first gimmick involves offering free parking for season-ticket holders who pay in full, and I can’t wait to see what other kind of deals they will offer.

In times when the sports fans who pay athletes’ exorbitant salaries by attending games and buying merchandise see their disposable incomes dwindle, pro sports will be forced to make changes to its business model.

Considering the Suns dealt away a pair of unprotected first-rounders before this economic slowdown just to cut salary and have spent the better part of the decade selling off picks, the Suns’ ability to maintain revenue streams will be vital to how this team decides to rebuild when big money comes off the cap in 2010.

A Swift answer?

Stromile Swift

Stromile Swift

The Arizona Republic reported that the Suns are looking at signing Stromile Swift for the rest of the season, with Joe Smith and Drew Gooden unlikely to come to Phoenix.

Since Swift hasn’t been able to tap the potential that made him the second overall pick in 2000 in Memphis, Houston or New Jersey, I doubt he would here either, but considering Swift would automatically become the third-tallest Sun, such a move would make sense.

The Suns have to sign somebody to fill out their roster, so why not sign a 6-foot-10 athlete who would certainly help in the middle against taller front lines?

Swift also brings the type of athleticism that could thrive in Phoenix’s system, and if nothing else he would do just as good a job as Courtney Sims did carrying Shaq during pregame intros if the Daddy ever goes back to that routine.

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