Opener is short of a sellout

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

The Raptors have some work to do at the box office if they want a full house for their season opener.

About 2,000 tickets remain for the 2005-06 debut against the Washington Wizards Wednesday at the Air Canada Centre.

When times are good, the home opener is an automatic sellout. When times are not so good -- and the past three non-playoff seasons qualify as not so good -- it's a bit harder to fill the place.

"We'll probably get there (a sellout), but it's probably a little slower than usual," said Tom Anselmi, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. "It will be close to a sellout, if not a sellout."

The Raptors had 10 sellouts last season, and that was without Maple Leafs hockey.

Four of the Raptors' six openers at the ACC have been sellouts, including last season against the star-studded Houston Rockets.

The three lowest-priced categories of tickets are sold out for the home opener this season, but plenty of seats are left at higher price levels.

With 85% of season ticket holders renewing, the Raptors have a healthy season ticket base of around 10,000. Single games, however, are a harder sell.

"Hockey has really dominated the landscape in the last month or so," Anselmi said. "The Marlies are now on the scene and we've had three tough years here (with the Raptors). Single ticket buyers are moving a little more cautiously."

With Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets and LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in town for home games Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, the ACC should have a decent buzz.

But after that, it will be interesting to see just how many fans decide to spend a night watching the Raptors.


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