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From a fan's perspective, there are few greater venues than the Palestra. It is an absolute gift to have your team play there, and Penn fans should without a doubt thank their lucky stars for the privilege of each game that they attend at what is rightfully dubbed college basketball's most historic arena. It's just that since I've arrived at Penn, the price of that privilege has skyrocketed. For the 1998-99 season, a season ticket in the Palestra bleachers was $40; the right to call the chairbacks home for the season could be purchased for $80. Both went up $10 last year, $10 more this year. That's a 50 percent hike in the bleachers over two years, 25 percent in the chairbacks. And that's not right. "We took a look at last year's prices for basketball tickets, and decided that they were being very undervalued," Penn Director of Athletic Development and Public Affairs Decker Uhlhorn said. "We feel we bring in some great teams to a historic arena and are presenting a good opportunity for the student body to see these exciting games in person at a reasonable price." Well, sure, Penn has won Ivy League titles in each of the last two years. But very undervalued? Are students really getting more bang for their buck? Kansas and Temple brought top-10 programs to the Palestra two years ago. This year, the only opponent that truly inspires fear at the Palestra will be Maryland. It's not as if the Quakers had to go out and sign some big-name free agents over the summer. In fact, with Penn losing two All-Ivy guards and the crumbling of power at Princeton, early indications would be that this year's Ivy season will provide less bang for the buck. Not that Penn basketball won't be exciting -- far from it. The Quakers have talented guards who should be able to carry the torch, and their frontcourt is as exciting to watch as any that will visit the Palestra this season, including the Terrapins. Another year of "UUUU!" chants and standing to acknowledge Geoff Owens' grit is well worth an average of $4.62 per game in the bleachers. But for a lot of students, it's not going to be an average of $4.62. The Owls, one of the most exciting visitors, will play at Penn on December 29, when few students will likely be around. Three other games, including the first two in Ivy play, will be during winter break. When broken down over nine home games, the average game that a student will see will cost $6.67 in the bleachers, $11.11 in the chairbacks. By comparison, Columbia charges $10 for an entire season of basketball at Levien Gym. The Lions are the only other team in the league that charges admission to students. That's right -- not even Princeton charges. And Columbia's prices are down. Two years ago, a season pass for students would run $16.50. Dartmouth also used to charge students at a rate of $27-$33 per season depending upon how many home games there were, but made athletic events free to students starting last season. It does make sense that other Ivy schools wouldn't charge for basketball -- the quality of play is much lower, as is the quality of the opponents. The system at the other non-charging Ivy schools is like that of Duke, where the best seats go to the earliest arrivers for each game. It's just that nobody is camping out in the dead of winter to break down the doors of Dartmouth's Leede Arena or Cornell's Newman Arena. There's a greater demand for tickets here, and I'm perfectly happy to pay to reserve a seat for the whole season. The Line is a fantastic tradition, and I wouldn't have it any other way. There's just no reason to jack up ticket prices the way that the Athletic Department has over the past two years. "We will continue to evaluate our ticket prices on a yearly basis," Uhlhorn said, clearly leaving the door open for continued rate hikes. Penn basketball is one of the few remaining inexpensive entertainment opportunities on this campus -- it is a shame to see that changing.

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