Game 1 against the Warriors is tonight and courtesy of a 65-win season by the hometown squad, it’s being held here in Houston.
You may have seen at Toyota Center that the Rockets have a problem in the club seats area. Fan attendance, especially at tip off, is sparse in the lower bowl along the sidelines.
You won’t see this in the upper bowl. You won’t see it in the lower bowl behind the baskets. But the club seats, the seats visible on the TV broadcast, are an ongoing dilemma. Usually this eyesore clears up for the playoffs, but there we were on Tuesday for Game 5 against the Jazz and the issue was as bad as it has been all season.
This is the problem and why it’s a difficult one to fix.
First off, this is not a fan base problem, which seems to be the common conclusion. Houston has incredible fans of the team. Also, the Rockets are partly responsible for this because of the price of those tickets, but you can’t really blame them when the market will meet the price — these seats are all sold. Companies own these season tickets and gift them out to clients and friends routinely. As is the case with any “gift”, it’s not treated with the same level of respect it would be if you paid hundreds of dollars yourself for the ticket.
Hang out in the club and you will regularly hear stories of people who say this is their first Rockets game to attend since the Hakeem days. It’s not out of the ordinary at all to hear fans who showed up at the start of the second quarter to talk about how they were hanging out at a bar or restaurant during the first quarter. A lot of these fans are not the type you see on the forums that know Mike D’Antoni’s rotation and the future draft picks the Rockets own — these are casual fans who are here for a downtown event.
A second issue the Rockets face with getting people there on time is lack of public transportation. Houston has a significant traffic problem and funneling people into downtown to be parked and seated by the National Anthem has been a challenge for some time.
But this can’t happen in this series. It just can’t. This is the Western Conference Finals and the Rockets need every edge they can get to beat a juggernaut that has stacked the deck against the other 29 teams.
If you’re going to any of the games in this series, get there early — earlier than early if you have to. The whole game — from the intros to the final horn — is an experience that you don’t want to miss. Put your shirt on. Get UP and get LOUD… every single moment matters now and you’ll remember being a part of it.
The Rockets busted it all season to earn homecourt advantage. It’s time we give them one.