Wanna see the defending 2011-12 CBA champions, the Beijing Ducks, this year?
Good luck, buddy.
According to reports, the Ducks and their sponsor, Shougang Capital Steel, will only be releasing 1,000 tickets per game this season to online vendors for public purchase. That’s 1,000 as in 1,000 out of 6,000 total seats, a mere one sixth of the capacity of Shougang Gymnasium. The other 5,000 will be held for private sale to people inside the Shougang umbrella, which includes employees, executives and whoever else the company deems worthy of having the opportunity to purchase tickets.
Not really too much to say here other than… wow. Yes, Ducks fans are huge bandwagons. Anyone who had been out to Shougang pre-Marbury knows that. But the fans’ amazing support last season, selling out practically every game during the regular season and playoffs before taking things to another level by filling up the 18,000 seat Wukesong Arena for all three games during the Finals, was one of the key reasons why Beijing was able to cap off their magical season with a championship. If you had told me at the beginning of the season that the CBA Finals would be played at a sold out NBA-quality arena, I would have asked you have you been spiking your instant coffee with bai jiu. The level of support, enthusiasm and interest was truly unprecedented and we were among the many hoping that it’d continue on to this year.
And it likely will continue — Ducks games will continue to sell out, except it’ll be a more privileged group of people doing the selling out. But this just doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel right that the Ducks and their government-run sponsor are basically shutting out the people who made last year so special. I mean, Could you imagine if TD Bank decided to hold 12,000 tickets for all Boston Celtics playoff games so they could hand them out to whatever executives or clients they wanted?
Ultimately, this comes down to Shougang itself and how dated it is. With the Ducks now a part of local Beijing culture, now is the only time in history where the team could capitalize and get the squad playing in some bigger arenas. Somewhat to their credit, Beijing tried to hold Saturday’s season opener against Shanghai in Wukesong, but Elton John put a stop to that. You’d have to think that for other big games (Guangdong, Qingdao, Shanxi, possibly Xinjiang), the demand would be high enough for a bigger arena.
But yet, they’re still in Shougang. Disappointing, but somewhat acceptable if the public has access to tickets. Which they don’t anymore. Which is why the former head of the CBA, Li Yuanwei, who remains vocal in the media about Chinese basketball-related issues, went on Sina Weibo to call this whole thing “unprofessional.” We prefer to call it unfair.