They're suddenly hot tickets again

May 9, 1997

Phones began ringing steadily in the FleetCenter ticket offices three days ago, when it was all but apparent Rick Pitino would become the Celtics' next coach. Ticket requests have been practically nonstop since. During the first 48 hours, more than 400 patrons put down $ 100 deposits on season tickets. In all, the team took deposits on 1,000 season tickets during the two-day period.

"And several people who had canceled seats called back and said they'd like to get their seats back. It's been incredible," said Stuart Layne, the team's executive vice president of marketing and sales. "We've gotten deposits on 1,000 season tickets, and we haven't put tickets on sale yet."

When they do go on sale, the prices may change for certain seats. Chairman of the board Paul Gaston said yesterday the team's $ 10 seats "will not be increased while I'm around. The rest I'm not so sure about."

Layne said the team will likely increase its season ticket base from 12,700 to as many as 15,000.

"It depends how fast the orders come in," said Layne. He said the team averaged more than 16,000 tickets last season, and with 1,000 new season tickets expected, it would need to sell just 1,500 to return to the days when every game was a sellout.

"As we view ticket sales in the past in Boston Garden, you had a very loyal fan base that controlled most of the tickets, he said. "As you move into the FleetCenter, it gave us an opportunity for more tickets by having 3,000 more tickets per night, and with the $ 10-$ 18 tickets, we were able to expand our fan base to some who either couldn't get a ticket or couldn't afford it. With Pitino's enthusiasm, we've got demand in all categories."

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