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Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Some Cavs playoffs tickets going for $14,999

Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Buy a used car, make a down payment on a house or sit courtside to see LeBron James in the NBA Finals? Asking prices for premium seats are reaching five figures as the Cavaliers bring the championship series to Cleveland for the first time.

Maybe mortgage lender Dan Gilbert can provide financing to buy that $40,200 four-pack of tickets offered online to watch the Gilbert-owned Cavaliers against San Antonio.

Tickets to Cleveland's home games -- June 12 and 14 and, if needed, June 17 -- at the Quicken Loans Arena named for Gilbert's business are a hot item, even in this blue-collar city with limited champagne tastes.

The prices are too steep for Shawnte Johnson, 30, of nearby Euclid, who had to settle Tuesday with buying four $24 Cavaliers T-shirts.

"I would love tickets," she said outside the arena. "They're very expensive. Can't afford it."

And what about the tickets offered for $14,999 on the team's online ticket reselling site?

"That's a mortgage and a car note," Johnson said.

Johnson still has a chance, perhaps one in 100, for the opportunity to buy tickets for $30 to $80 each. She and more than 20,000 others have entered the team's online lottery for the chance to buy tickets.

Team vice president Chad Estis won't call the game a sellout because of the several hundred tickets set aside for the lottery and several hundred more available as an incentive to buy season tickets for next year. Paying a premium to fans willing to sell looks like the best chance to see the game in the arena.

Nearly 1,000 tickets were offered on the club's reselling site Tuesday, with prices of $300 to $14,999. Estis said it was hard to estimate how many might change hands because some ticket holders are ready to deal and others want to make a killing.

Of course, the same is true for buyers: One fan offered to buy a ticket for a pretzel-sized $2 -- no offers showed up in response after several hours online -- and the high bid was $2,000.

Estis, who saw many empty seats in the arena when he joined the club six years ago, said the ticket-buying response from fans matched the excitement of four years ago when the club landed the rights to James, who grew up 40 miles away in Akron.

The team's online ticket reselling outlet can protect fans from counterfeit tickets, something one fan learned the hard way.

Police Lt. Thomas Stacho said a fan who paid $375 for two tickets called police to complain that the tickets turned out to be fakes for a nonexistent seating section. Undercover officers contacted the seller about buying tickets and arrested the man, Stacho said.

Amazing Tickets Inc. in suburban Beachwood has sold courtside tickets at $10,000. President Mark Klang said he has fielded calls from as far away as New York and Washington, D.C., and said high-end tickets for the games in both cities sell in the same price range -- $2,000, $3,000 or more.

The San Francisco-based ticket reseller has found fans willing to pay more for Cleveland tickets -- probably because it's the team's first championship series -- and said the series is one of the top items among the 20,000 events listed on its site.

"It's certainly one of the hottest sports events, far and away hotter than the NHL finals," said Sean Pate, StubHub's public relations director.