The Gentrification of The Garden - More of the Same

Elsa

The Bruins, we're told, exemplify the blue collar worth ethic of their fans. What happens when the blue collar fans can't get in?

Sifting through the normal hullabaloo of your average day on hockey Twitter, the big topic for Bruins fans yesterday was the price increase for season tickets. While fans of winning teams enjoy watching a quality product, they're sullied with higher ticketing costs because that's just how things go.

These price increases, though, have effectively doubled over the past six seasons. And as long as the Bruins keep winning and fans keep coming this is how it's going to be, which is a real shame.

The Bruins, we're told, exemplify the blue collar worth ethic of their fans. With these prices, there's less and less blue and much more white in the collars of the Garden.

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This isn't a particularly unique situation. Canadians love pointing out how unaffordable their tickets are, as if that's some sort of a badge of honor for them. Others would condescendingly remind Bruins fans that this is the price of success. And yeah, we get it. Them's the breaks.

The substantial and expeditious manner of the increase does merit some irritation regardless of your sympathy for Bruins fans. But at the same time, Bruins fans need to realize that this sort of behavior is all around them on a daily basis. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of real estate.

Multifamily development is huge right now, especially in Boston. You don't need to be an expert to notice there are quite a few residential projects in progress all over the city. One such area is Chinatown.

Chinatown, where the average resident makes less than $20,000, is shrinking. The catalyst for this is the desirability of the location. Right in the thick of the downtown area and serviced by multiple transit stations, it's prime real estate, and the industry wants it.

Buildings that once housed low-income residents are being fixed up or sold to be razed. Long-time residents are being priced out one way or the other to make room for wealthy tenants that can support a luxury lifestyle. The buildings are beautiful; the neighborhood is hopping; the character is lacking.

Sound familiar?

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Losing a home is not even in the same stratosphere as not being able to go to a hockey game, let's be honest. But it does serve as a reminder of what exactly is happening in this city these days.

But it's not just Chinatown. Similar problems have arisen in Jamaica Plain and Somerville. Gentrification is happening in our neighborhoods just as much as it is in our hockey arena.

Speaking of the Garden, let's not forget Delaware North, the company owned by C. Montgomery Burns, received approval for a $950 million mixed-use complex at the Garden, including $7.8 million in tax breaks.

Tax breaks for developers are nothing new or unusual. For some, they're essential to completing the project. For a man worth $2.8 billion, I have my doubts to his need. I guess he can just add them to the collection, though.

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While raising ticket prices would seem good business, its community impact will be far from positive. Granted, ticket sales won't falter, but when you price fans out, you change the DNA of the game day atmosphere. Look at the New England Patriots.

Trading fans for dollars is fiscally smart, but when you're woven in to the fabric of the community, there needs to be a stopping point. Will we see it? Probably not. This isn't the most fan-friendly owner in sports. But it's something to look out for.

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