Just in time for audiences and Broadway, the half-price ticket booth re-opens

New York City's beloved half-price TKTS ticket booth, a kiosk in the middle of Times Square which sells same-day tickets to Broadway and off-Broadway performances, is finally back in service after two and a half years of languishing through construction delays, ghastly cost overruns, and a miserable temporary location in an exhaust-choked breezeway nearby. And just in time. The arts could use a little love these days.

At Thursday's ribbon cutting with Mayor Mike Bloomberg and 60-year-old Kewpie Bernadette Peters, it was announced that Target would be buying up the first 1,000 tickets and giving them to the first people in line. The announcement was made too late for us to make use of the deal (they probably surprised us because the last thing New York City needs is an impromptu mob scene in the middle of Times Square), but hey, good for all those unsuspecting tourists.

The old booth, which shut down way back in early 2006, was about as sturdy as a porta-potty and about as welcoming as the bus station. Signs were frequently no more than hand-scratched improvisations, there were too few windows, and too-long lines wound through one of the city's most pigeon-pooped patches of ugly asphalt.

The new version, though, gives cheapsters some respect. Before, TKTS didn't take anything but cash, so tourists had to stuff hundreds of bucks in their pockets and then line up in the middle of New York City's busiest area. Not ideal. Finally, the new booth takes credit cards. There's even a window that sells only plays (meaning no musicals), by far the less popular theatrical mode for Broadway and tourists alike.