The New Zealand Breakers are raising ticket prices next season but it's about securing the club's future rather than cashing in on its success, general manager Richard Clarke says.
Supermarket magnates Paul and Liz Blackwell have been running the club at a loss and, to ensure the long-term future of the franchise, they want to remedy that situation.
In a letter to season members this week, the Blackwells said the club needed to become financially sustainable in the next five years and increasing revenue was the solution.
Single-game tickets will be raised, by as little as $2, and members will have to pay up to 57 per cent more than they did this season, a figure Clarke said was misleading.
"We've been very cheap for a long time," he said. "It's not that it's now suddenly expensive - it's just gone up a bit. If you take a low price and put it up a little bit, then the percentage price is going to be high.
"I think people will understand, because they want us to be here in five years rather than having shut up shop because we relied too much on our owners."
The Breakers' most expensive membership package, which has a waiting list, will see adults pay $499 for 14 home games, just over $35 a game. That compares favourably with the Warriors and the Blues, teams which can only dream of matching the Breakers' 16-game win streak.
Events promoter Dean Lonergan said the Breakers, two-time defending champions and attracting new fans with every win, provided excellent value for money and were entitled to increase their prices.
"They've got a waiting list for tickets, they sell out every game - they'd be mad if they don't push their ticket prices up," he said.
"Whatever price rises they've got in mind, I honestly think the market will accept it.
"The one thing New Zealand audiences demand is winners, and these guys are delivering on the promise."
Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah said he also understood the plight of the Breakers and, in particular, the Blackwells.
"You're selling out the venue and there's a supply and demand. They want to keep winning championships and that takes a lot of money.
"I'm sympathetic to owners who pour lots of money into the sport, so good on them if they want to break even."
Paying to see the action
Most expensive adult membership for the three main Auckland sporting franchises:
Breakers: $499 for 14 games at $35 a game
Blues: $299 for eight games at $37 a game
Warriors: $430 for 11 games at $39 a game