All-Star tickets: not priceless
Major League Baseball's All-Star Game and Home Run Derby will be in Pittsburgh two years from now and you, too, can be part of the festivities.
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PNC Park's seating capacity is 37,898 (although the Pirates' single-game attendance record for the four-year-old ballpark is 39,392 for a game in August 2001).
However, because MLB controls the All-Star Game, the Pirates aren't likely to have more than 20,000 tickets to distribute at face value.
Baseball fans who want to attend the 2006 Mid-Summer Classic at PNC Park have several ticketing options.
The easiest one is to work for or own a company/business/ medical practice that is visited by deep-pocketed salesmen bearing gifts. (To those who have never seen them, their existence remains an urban myth but friends and relatives who seemingly never have to purchase sports tickets swear they exist.)
Another option is to rely on ticket brokers. Yes, you're going to pay a pretty penny for their services (think triple face value, at least) but it's not like anyone is going to be selling All-Star Game tickets for the price printed on the ticket.
Season ticket holder
Another way is to become one of the first 20,000 Pirates season ticketholders in 2005.
The Pirates haven't yet announced plans on who will have access to their All-Star seats, but when the Pirates hosted the 1994 All-Star Game at Three Rivers Stadium, full season ticketholders had first dibs.
Ten years ago, the commitment was for one season. Rest assured, the Pirates are going to be pushing fans to sign up in 2005 for the 2006 game.
So what does it cost? Depends where you sit. This year, the Pirates have been selling upperdeck seats down the baselines for $9 each. So if a fan bought four of those for a full season (81 games), the cost would be $2,916. (Prices mentioned don't factor in future ticket price increases or season-ticket discounts.)
That's for 2005.
Then you'd have to buy 2006 seats.
So what happens if more than 20,000 fans sign up for seats?
Chances are the Pirates would reward fans buying the more expensive seats.
Say you wanted out of the upperdeck. The outfield seats behind right field cost $17 (four for the season equals $5,508). What a great place that would be for Home-Run Derby.
And for infield box seats that don't come with a waiter? This year, they sell for $27 (four for the season equals $8,748).
For a two-year investment of $17,496, you'll receive four tickets for 162 games plus the option to purchase face-value Home Run Derby and All-Star Game tickets.
Since Jacobs Field in Cleveland was the site of the 1997 game, it's going to be a l-o-n-g time before the All-Star Game comes back to the region.
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Fortunately, ESPN and FOX will televise the events from Pittsburgh with spectacular aerial shots.
The Pirates have made a spectacular turnaround since June 26 when they were 27-43, losing just seven times. But are they a contender for the National League wild-card berth? Or should they try to upgrade their potential future success by dumping their soon-to-be free agents?
Is Kris Benson gone? Will Jose Mesa go to a contender to become an eight-inning setup man? Is Craig Wilson about to become a designated hitter?
Only Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield knows for sure.
Unlike last year when Littlefield literally gave away power-hitting third baseman Aramis Ramirez to the Chicago Cubs more than a week before the trade deadline, Littlefield is holding on to the few cards he has as Saturday's deadline approaches.
To the north and west of us, Indians GM Mark Shapiro owes it to Tribe fans to pursue any players that could help the Tribe keep pace with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox.
Hovering at .500, the Indians are contenders for the postseason because the American League Central Division has only one deep-pocketed owner (Chicago's Jerry Reinsdorf) and he's not known for overspending.
With 13 games remaining against the Twins and eight against the White Sox, Indians customers deserve a late-summer pennant chase.
Here's hoping they get one.
XTom Williams is a sportswriter for The Vindicator. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.