- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

Major League Baseball’s Washington franchise will begin collecting deposits for 2005 season tickets Thursday, ending several weeks of delays in establishing a ticket distribution system.

With no team name in place and the D.C. Council more than two weeks away from ratifying stadium financing, the long-awaited ticketing announcement provides the first visible sign of the club’s re-establishment in Washington.

“It’s been a long time coming, but things are finally beginning to settle into place,” said Kevin Uhlich, a special consultant assisting team president Tony Tavares. “This is a major component of making this relocation happen.”

Several key pieces of the ticketing equation, however, are not publicly known. A baseball seating chart for RFK Stadium, where the team will play for three seasons, has not been released. Nor has a detailed price list, though season tickets will average between $24 and $26 a game, coming to about $2,000 for the season, and the cheapest upper-deck seats will be $7 a game. The most expensive seats are being targeted at $45 a game.

But those details will be firmed up and e-mailed by Wednesday to fans who sign up at either www.dcbaseball.com, the official team site, or www.baseballindc.com, the Web site operated by the prospective ownership group led by Fred Malek.

On Thursday, the club will begin collecting $300 deposits at the www.dcbaseball.com site or over the phone. Uhlich said more than 15,000 different names have been collected through the two Web sites and phone calls to the team’s temporary offices. The raw number was considerably larger, but efforts are under way to weed out duplicate submissions.

“We definitely have been given a good base to get going,” he said.

The team is targeting early January to begin selling partial season ticket plans and February to sell single-game tickets. Both timetables are on par with other MLB clubs.

The selection of Ticketmaster as the team’s ticket provider ends several weeks of logistical and legal hurdles, including the computerized connection of local sales efforts to national distribution outlets like www.mlb.com.

But another company, Aramark, has become involved in the last major ticketing question to be addressed: premium seating. The Washington team is seeking to sell club seats, located primarily behind home plate, that would offer waiter service. Exact amenities, however, have not been determined.

“There’s certainly a demand for that level of service, that atmosphere,” Uhlich said. “We can’t put a price on those sections until we nail down the services we’re offering. But we’ll be ready by Thursday.”

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