Ballpark box seats are going on sale

Do you live with a baseball "superfan?" Are you one yourself? If so, this might be your lucky year, as ballparks around the country slash prices on their ritzy luxury-suite digs.

While many of these deals aren't what most people would dub inexpensive -- some of them are still in the five figures -- fields desperate to get customers through the gates are offering one-time deals for seats that are normally sold only by the season and packages including perks like wine tastings, limo transfers and access to players. The bottom line: They're still luxuries, but if you've got the disposable income and want to see baseball in high-roller style, this is your season.

What's fueling the sudden sale on swanky seats? A big part of it is companies and even municipalities cutting back on their luxury-box expenditures as the recession continues. The beleaguered General Motors is reportedly trying to unload a chunk of its Detroit Tigers luxury seats. In the Big Apple, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg pulled back on suite seats at the city's two new major league ballparks.
So, just how great are these "downturn deals" ballparks are hawking? In Los Angeles, $80,000 season tickets for the Dodgers can now be bought in four-game blocks; on the other side of the country, the Boston Red Sox knocked $1,500 off the price of some suites. In the heartland, the bargains are even better: Chicago's historic Wrigley Field has some suite areas where tickets start at $165 a head, and it recently redesigned some spaces so more varied group sizes can be accommodated.

Parks are trying to spin the falloff in luxury-seat interest as a good business opportunity. One manager interviewed pointed out that these lower prices have the potential to lure in a lot of middle-class fans who have never taken in a live game from a comfy, air-conditioned chair with all the food and booze they can consume. Ballpark operators hope is that these fans will want to continue to upgrade from hot dogs, lukewarm beer and inclement weather even after the economy - and ticket prices - start flying out of the park again.
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