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+3I am a 24 year old student that has been a Toronto Raptors fan since the year 2000. I was so excited this season to finally see a Raptors team that played with a team-first mentality, who never stopped fighting, and who put themselves in a position to claim the Atlantic division title, despite rumours that the team was destined for tanking after trading away one of our better known players. I was hoping this year would be the year that I could attend a home playoff game as I have been waiting for this opportunity for some time, and because I wanted to experience what I am sure will be an electric atmosphere at the Air Canada Centre. Unfortunately, as all Raptors fans know, and as reported by Forbes.com, the average price of tickets for a Toronto Raptors home playoff game are the highest in the NBA, with a 242% increase compared to regular season ticket prices. The extraordinary cost of a playoff ticket at the ACC is impractical for many individuals, and in turn, dreams of experiencing such an event remain just that for a large proportion of the fan base. The company responsible for setting these ticket prices is known as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Limited, or MLSE. On their website, MLSE states that they are “Canada’s preeminent leader in delivering top quality sport and entertainment experiences to our fans”. Toronto sports fans know this organization quite well, as they are also the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs. This organization has demonstrated time and time again that their major concern is putting money into their pockets. Charging the highest price in the league for tickets is not a new tactic for MLSE, as Forbes reported that the average ticket price to see a Toronto Maple Leafs game was the most expensive in the NHL ($368.60) in 2013. In my opinion, and I feel many Raptors fans would agree with me, the ticket prices to watch a playoff game at the ACC are a slap in the face and a blatant display of disrespect towards Toronto Raptors fans. The solution to the problem of course is for fans to refuse to buy tickets; if no one bought tickets then MLSE would be forced to drop the prices. However, this scenario will never happen. The reason for this is that Toronto sports fans are one if not the most dedicated and loyal fan bases in North America, and despite high ticket prices, fans will do whatever they can to get into the ACC to support their beloved teams. For instance, despite not having won a Stanley Cup since 1967, Leafs fans still flock to games and fill up the Air Canada Centre, or watch it at home on TV, as the commitment to our teams never waiver. This commitment has caused many to question the sanity of Toronto sports fans, but we take this as a sign of respect, because despite the troubles our teams may undergo, we are still there at every step of the journey. Although Toronto is thought to be a hockey town, support for the Toronto Raptors has continued to grow over the years. With the 10th highest attendance in the NBA in 2014, Raptors fans have shown that basketball is in Toronto to stay. Now this love for our sports franchises should be rewarded; however, MLSE chooses to punish us and take advantage of our loyalty by setting unrealistic ticket prices. It is understandable that MLSE wants to make money, in the end sports teams are a business, but this business should not come at the cost of disrespecting your fans. Like the athletes playing the game, fans live for the playoffs and the chance to win a championship, and ticket prices should not prevent these fans from experiencing such an event. I believe it is time for MLSE to review their claim that they are responsible for the delivering top quality sports and entertainment experiences to their fans, and really ask if they are in fact succeeding in this endeavour when most of their fans cannot afford to attend one of their events live. With many generations of Toronto sports fans to come, I feel that it is time for MLSE to review their strategies and to improve the accessibility to their sporting events as a sign of respect and appreciation to those who have displayed their unwavering support year after year. I hope that this letter will inspire others to join me in voicing their opinions in order to get the attention of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment so that attending sporting events in Toronto can become a more realistic option for the dedicated fans of the Toronto Raptors and all the other teams owned by MLSE.
67%Agree33%Disagree
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