Inflation and the rising operational costs of the annual ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships have forced the school sports governing body to increase the cost of tickets for this year’s event.”The operational cost for Champs has increased many times. If you are to be practical it (ticket price) has to be increased,” Champs committee chairman Colleen Montague told The Gleaner at yesterday’s official opening of the McKenley/Wint track at Calabar High School in Kingston.Ticket prices for all categories of seating for the Champs, which will be held at the National Stadium from March 15-19, have gone up by $500.Season tickets for the grandstand moved to $8,500 and $9,000, while bleachers tickets for Saturday now cost $1,500 up from $1,000. Grandstand tickets for Tuesday through Thursday still cost $500.NOCHOICEMontague said that the rising costs of goods and services left the association with no choice.”The minimum wage has gone up and there is an increase for private security and inflation in every single area has been increased and, therefore, we can’t hold it for any longer. We have to push up the prices in all the categories if we are to host it at the same standards that we have in the past,” the Wolmer’s Girls’ School principal said.Montague also pointed out that ticket prices for the bleachers had not been increased in some time.”We have not increased the bleachers tickets for Saturday for the last seven years,” she said.While some have queried whether ticket prices would be prohibitive to students, Montague noted that the students were a primary consideration in arriving at ticket prices.”We have always been considering the students and their cost and making sure it’s affordable for students. There are systems that we put in place for the students. If they purchase through their schools, it’s $1,200 for students for Saturday bleachers,” Montague said.”The cost for bleachers on Saturday, there are special arrangements for our students and so it’s not priced for our students it’s priced for the adults who will be attending,” she added.Addressing the ever-controversial matter of availability of tickets, Montague said only 5,000 tickets were available for Saturday, which always proves to be the problematic day.”The demand has increased but the supply has remained the same because the Stadium is the same stadium last year and the year before. Those who are trying to get tickets have increased. The number of tickets remain the same. It’s only Saturday tickets that are an issue because the tickets are available every other day.