The 76ers: The New Pizza Hut?

David LeneyCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2008

There seem to be two basic rules for gaining fans and publicity in any sport:

1.    Win games and/or

2.    Have a player people want to see

The 76ers are starting to accomplish the first, but the attendance at the Wachovia Center still looks more like a Bacon Brothers concert rather than a professional sporting event.

Perhaps it’s because the 76ers are in Philadelphia, a city whose fans often feel snake-bitten, destined to always come up short. 

There is only so much the fans can take between the Eagles and the Phillies inevitable collapse. There just isn’t enough room to be disappointed by yet another team. 

I’ve always said that the original “Rocky” was the perfect movie set in the perfect place, because he loses at the end.

With that said the 76ers organization has to be panicking. 

The team is doing much better, but better doesn’t seem to be enough. 

With Allen Iverson’s departure last season the team lacked star power, and regardless of what you may or may not think of Iverson, he was exciting to watch.

It’s really bad when you consider the billboard that reads, “Double the Dre” (referring to Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala) while driving through the city. 

I also was taken back when my brother and I walked into the Sixers Pro Shop before a game.  The “Pro Shop” if that’s what you want to call it, wasn’t much bigger than my kitchen.  It featured unbelievable merchandise such as a Jason Smith autographed picture, a Louis Williams signed basketball, etc—you get the picture.   

I know that the front office is panicking as evidence of recent e-mails I have received. 

You see, last year I accidentally signed up for the 76ers mailing list. 

I can’t say that I received a ton of e-mails last season, but this year the 76ers are offering deals like they’re used-car salesmen, or like a gimmicky Pizza Hut commercial.

You know the ones:

Get the cheesy thick crust pizza wrapped in jalapeños with fajita style chicken for only $8.99!

They try to sell this because they know they can’t advertise a standard pizza, in fact it’s curiosity more than hunger that gets somebody to eat that crap in the first place.

The 76ers aren’t far from that:    

PAY $149.00 and YOU and 3 friends get 4 HOT DOGS, 4 BEERS, 4 PASSES to HOLT’S CIGAR CLUB, and a MEET & GREET with the 76’ER’S CHEERLEADERS!!!!  PAY $31.00 (why $31.00) additionally to any ticket and it’s ALL YOU CAN EAT!!!!  DOLLAR DOG NIGHT, EVERYNIGHT!!!!

As you can see it doesn’t stop. As I’m writing this article on March 9th, tickets to see the Celtics game are now 60 percent off. 

It’s like Tower Records is going out of business all over again. 

I realize that in every sport, in every city, there are fan appreciation nights along with the occasional good deal, but in the Sixers case I feel like were a week away from:

Come to the game and afterwards you will get laid!

Two weeks away from:

Add $1000.00 to your ticket and you and a friend can coach the Sixers for the evening! Add $500.00 more and you can give the press conference after the game!

The last 76ers game I went to, my brother and I weren’t the least bit surprised when two Moses Malone autographed basketballs were presented to two (of about 20) season ticket holders. 

I wasn’t surprised because over the last two years I’ve attended approximately 20-25 games, and every single game a Moses Malone autographed basketball is presented to a season ticket holder. 

This means one of two things:

1.    Moses Malone’s autograph isn’t worth the Sharpie that it was written with, and/or

2.    The 76ers organization kidnapped Moses Malone and has forced this man to sign a gazillion basketballs.

Playing great basketball is enough for me, but with the ten to twelve million that the team will likely have to work with next season in free agency, it is imperative that the Sixers get somebody, anybody, that the casual fan will deem “worth the price of admission.”



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