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Fans pay price in Marlins' ticket offer

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The Florida Marlins announced Wednesday that the club is offering holiday gift packs of 10 tickets.

Pack purchasers can use the vouchers for 10 tickets in any way they see fit: 10 people at one game, two people at five games, etc.

The Marlins have knocked anywhere from 50 cents to $7 off the per-game ticket price for the holiday packs depending on the seat location and whether they are prime games or not.

There are some stipulations however. The vouchers cannot be used for Opening Night or Super Saturdays, but they can be used as cash to go toward Opening Night and Super Saturday tickets. But to do so an individual must go to the Sun Life Stadium Box Office or the Marlins En Miami store after Feb. 19 and present the voucher. Not exactly the most convenient way to get Opening Night tickets.

A bigger restriction however, is that the holiday ticket vouchers are only available online. That means to get the vouchers you get to deal with Ticketmaster, an agency that would make the pre-ghosts Ebenezer Scrooge proud. This also means that if you looking at the holiday packs primarily as a way to get your Marlin tickets for lesser games cheaper, forget it. The Ticketmaster plan service charge is a ridiculous $20 per ticket packet.

For the person considering buying a holiday 10-pack for the Fish Tank ($85) just to get in the park and spend time with your wife, son or daughter, forget it. The 50-cents per ticket you save (if you used all the ticket vouchers for the yet-unspecified "Bronze" games) would be more than negated by the service charge. You'd spend $20 to save $5. Happy Holidays, Schmuck - From Your Friends at Ticketmaster! Even buying the best available tickets -Infield Boxes at $350 per pack - you only break even with the service fee if you use the vouchers for all "Bronze" games.

But to be fair, by using holiday 10-packs for Fish Tank tickets for "Gold" and "Silver" games you still save money when the service fee is counted. And by using holiday vouchers for Infield Boxes at "Gold" games, the savings have covered the service fee by the third ticket.

If you are going to buy a holiday pack, do it early in the week, preferrably Monday. That way you have a shot at autographed or game-used items being given away by the team each week. The first 25 buyers each week receive the autographed and game-used items.

The Marlins organization needs to rethink running the promotion through Ticketmaster and its excessive service fees if it does the holiday ticket packs offer again next year, especially when trying to fill a new stadium. Otherwise the ghosts that team executives see in that new stadium may be the ghosts of fans present.

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