Sports

In-person NYC sports back amid COVID

They’re the hottest — and only — tickets in town!

Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center are welcoming fans back this week for the first time in nearly a year, since the COVID-19 pandemic turned pro sports upside down.

Both venues are offering a limited inventory of tickets, already commanding prices as high as as $5,000.

But while fans of the New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers will see their ducats average around $467 and $367 respectively on the secondary market, according to price tracker Ticket IQ — those who want to watch the Brooklyn Nets live and in person better have the deepest of pockets.

The once-beleaguered franchise, which is finally seeing renewed success with their “Big Three” — power forward Kevin Durant and point guards James Harden and Kyrie Irving — is offering a luxe, exclusive experience for a select number of fans at a steep price: roughly $600 to $5,000 courtside, sources told The Post.

Nets fans can pay a steep price to watch James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving courtside.
Nets fans can pay a steep price to watch James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving courtside.
Getty Images (2); AP

Rather than open its doors to the full 10 percent capacity as permitted by state pandemic rules, the 19,000-seat Brooklyn arena plans to fill just 300 seats for the Nets next three home games beginning Feb. 23 against the Sacramento Kings, and none were listed for sale on secondary market sites Friday.

Many of the socially distanced seats come with free food and non-alcoholic beverages to be served by staffers wearing protective gear. This includes new group-seating areas positioned on platforms featuring couches, tables and other accessories set up to resemble a luxury living room — all while surrounded with plexiglass, arena officials said.

Barclays Center is the first major North American sports venue to package COVID-19 testing as part of its ticket price. Fans will be offered the chance to take a test mailed to them far enough in advance to get a green light to attend games, and then given a rapid test to confirm their negative COVID status before entering the building, with results coming in six minutes.

Following the All-Star break early next month, the Nets plan to reopen the arena’s upper bowl and put significantly more tickets on sale — including some to the general public — starting at $150, officials said. 

The lucky few who can afford the fancy new set-up are also being asked to buy the opening trio of games as part of a larger package of 20 contests, with the additional perk of being able to buy postseason tickets for a team slated by many to reach the NBA Finals.

Immanuel Quickley of Knicks shoots a foul shot against the Bulls.
Immanuel Quickley of Knicks shoots a foul shot against the Bulls.
NBAE via Getty Images

“We are looking forward to bringing Nets fans back to Barclays Center to see what we believe is the most exciting team in the NBA,” said John Abbamondi, CEO of BSE Global, parent company of the Nets and Barclays Center, which plans to donate a portion of ticket proceeds to support vaccination efforts in Brooklyn.

Last week, MSG began offering tickets for nearly 2,000 seats to the Knicks’ and Rangers’ next three home games, each with a face value price of $50 to $380. Fans will get their first look at this year’s Knicks when they tip off Feb. 23 against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, and on Feb. 26 fans can watch the Rangers face off with the Boston Bruins.

Hundreds of people lucky to score the select seats are now seeking to cash in by reselling them on StubHub and other secondary market sites. As of Friday night, Knicks tickets for the three games ranged from $183 in the upper bowl to $5,127 in the lower bowl for the Warriors game — while Rangers tickets started at $145 and went up to $946 against the Bruins, according to TicketIQ.

Greg Cohen, TicketIQ’s vice president of growth, said early results show secondary market tickets for games at “The World’s Most Famous Arena” are “robust” as ever -— running about 30 percent higher than in a normal year.

“I think this shows fans are really interested in getting back to sporting events,” he said.

MSG officials say they made a concerted effort to keep pricing down and some seating accessible to the general public, and even plans to offer some courtside seats, which usually go for more than $1,000, at or below last season’s rates.

Libor Hajek of the Rangers tries to keep the puck from Mikhail Maltsev of the Devils.
Libor Hajek of the Rangers tries to keep the puck from Mikhail Maltsev of the Devils.
USA TODAY Sports

“Our goal is to be as fan friendly as we can with our reopen plan,” said Andrew Lustgarten, MSG’s president and CEO. “The return of fans to The Garden is a very important step for not only MSG, but our city, and we can’t wait to see them back in the building.”

The NHL’s Islanders have yet to announce when they plan to allow fans back at the Nassau Coliseum, and the team didn’t return email messages.


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