Jeff Hackett isn't sure whether to feel incredibly fortunate to have tickets to next month's All-Star game or hopelessly foolish.
A ticket broker put him in this quandary during a rain delay at Camden Yards earlier this month when he offered Mr. Hackett and two friends $4,400 for their four All-Star tickets.
The men held on to their $60 tickets, thereby forgoing a profit of $4,160 and suggesting to their wives that their husbands had been beaned at the stadium.
"The spousal interest in this was strong," said Mr. Hackett, an administrator in a downtown law firm. "The men didn't want to give up the seats and the wives thought, 'What? Are you crazy?' "
Crazy may be an apt word to describe the prices brokers are asking for tickets to the July 13 All-Star game at Camden Yards. But the brokers, whose advertisements fill a column in The Sun's classifieds, use terms such as "market forces" in justifying prices that begin at $350 a ticket and rise as high as $1,500. The face value of the tickets was $60 for box seats and $45 for reserves. While scalping is prohibited in Baltimore, brokers in jurisdictions where the practice is legal.
The brokers bought their tickets from the original owners, who got their tickets either through Major League baseball, which is accorded a large portion of seats, or the Orioles. All full-season ticket-holders were offered the chance to buy All-Star seats, and a limited number were made available to mini-plan holders and to the general public.
As All-Star games go, several brokers agreed, tickets to this one are commanding steeper-than-usual prices, even by the standards of an East Coast city. The stadium, with a seating capacity of 48,079, is on the small side, which limits the number of tickets available to the public. But it is the stadium itself, brokers say, that is part of the draw this year.
"It's supposedly a state-of-the-art stadium," said Brian Harlig, a partner of Golden Time Tickets, a Los Angeles ticket broker advertising in The Sun. "People are curious to see it."
The prices are more expensive than those for last year's World Series, which brokers sold for between $275 and $650. Because the teams and sites of the World Series aren't decided until the last moment, there isn't as much time for the forces of inflation to gain steam.
The Super Bowl is another thing. Ram Silverman, whose Golden Tickets agency in Texas expects to sell 500 All-Star tickets, said that he sold tickets for as much as $1,750 for last year's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. But a Masters Golf Tournament ticket commands even more. "We got $2,000 for a badge this year," Mr. Silverman said.
Mr. Harlig says even that price will be eclipsed next summer when the World Cup Soccer Championship comes to Los Angeles. "We're looking at $3,000 per [ticket]," he said.
Those prices, of course, are far beyond the reach of the typical fan. "Most of my clientele are Fortune 500 companies who need tickets for their clientele," said Mr. Harlig. "I would say 95 percent of my business is business-related, especially for these kind of glamour events."
That doesn't mean that the typical fan isn't out there looking or advertising for tickets. Shelly Roper, an advertising executive in Seal Beach, Calif., is running an ad all week in search of four All-Star tickets. She and her husband, avid Angels fans, want to come to the game with two friends. So far, the price has been too high. "I'm willing to go up to $250 a ticket," she said. "I'm not bothering with the brokers. They're asking for two times that much."
Mike Welsh, an electrical contractor in Mount Washington, is also looking for four tickets and is also wary of the brokers. Still, he doesn't want to miss this game.
"The next time it comes to Baltimore I'll probably be dead," he said. "I won't be able to see it then."