Commissioner David Stern, a confessed optimist, said the NBA, like all businesses, has been forced to make adjustments in a down economy but called the league "relatively recession resistant.” In his annual preseason "state of the union” teleconference on Friday, Stern said season-ticket renewal rates are at 76 percent, down only three percent compared to last year. New ticket sales are at the same rate as last season. Stern said it’s too early to project overall attendance. Stern, though, said arena capacity, based on number of tickets sold, should only suffer a slight drop-off from 92 percent to around 90 percent. He added group sales have gone well and sponsorships shouldn’t suffer a dramatic decline. "We think we’re going to be OK this year,” Stern said. "But we have to face the reality that joblessness has increased, mortgage foreclosures have increased and various markets are in difficult straits. But I think we will be viewed as relatively recession resistant... "(By freezing or reducing ticket prices in most markets) we expect a season of robust attendance, easily within our top five. But like everybody else we’ll have to fight our way through the season in respect to the economy.” Stern said the upcoming season, which tips off Tuesday night, will feature the best depth of talent during his tenure. He stressed the game’s popularity continues to grow globally. The biggest challenge is keeping revenue declines "as small as possible.” "Despite ticket discounting and cutting we (project revenue) will decrease only four percent,” Stern said. "We’ll see how that turns out. But mostly it’s all good news because our broadcast partners tell us sales are going well. There seems to be an inordinate amount of interest in our game.” The salary cap was reduced for the first time in years to $57.7 million. Early estimates are the cap could decrease again to as low as $51 million next season. "Our teams are going to have to make adjustments because it will limit what they have to spend for free agents,” Stern said. "But our fans will be happy with the product ... Overall the game is in great shape. It looks terrific. "That doesn’t mean that our current system is working perfectly in terms of collective bargaining. We’ve expressed our concerns to the players. That’s a subject for negotiation over the next several time periods.” Stern emphasized the league’s aggressive approach to modern technology is paying dividends.