Tampa Bay Rays offer a playoff ticket guarantee — at a premium price

Are you looking for a guaranteed ticket to the Tampa Bay Rays playoff games?

The latest way will cost you $100 — plus the ticket price.

Under a plan announced Wednesday, the Rays are selling memberships to the Playoff Access Club for $100 each that "give fans the opportunity to purchase one ticket per game for each membership purchased" — before tickets are sold to anyone else. Club membership, which they say will be capped at 2,500, also includes a Rays cooler and discounts toward 2011 single-game ticket purchases.

You don't want to pony up the extra $100? There are alternative ways to score tickets. Here's what you need to know if you want to go.

How can I get advance tickets for playoff games?

The team allowed fans to register in advance for a random drawing. The registration closed earlier this week and the drawing will be Friday at 9 a.m., with the selectees notified by e-mail.

Remaining tickets will go on sale to the public Saturday at 9 a.m., but only through raysbase ball.com. Any tickets remaining after that will go on sale Monday at 9 a.m. through all Rays outlets.

You can also guarantee your ability to purchase postseason tickets by reserving season tickets for 2011 or by joining the Playoff Access Club mentioned above.

How much are tickets?

Through the Rays, ticket prices range from $30 for the Upper Reserved/tbt* Party Deck to $160 for field-side box seats. Whitney Bank Club seats range from $205 to $215. The Avantair Home Plate Club seats are sold out.

Is there a way other than through the Rays to get tickets?

Yes. You can go to stubhub.com/tampa-bay-rays-tickets/ or Ticketmaster.com.

What if the series ends and I bought tickets for games that aren't played, would I get a refund?

If you purchased postseason tickets on raysbaseball.com, you will receive an automatic refund through a credit applied to the credit card used for the original ticket purchase about three weeks after the last Rays game. In such cases, processing, shipping and handling fees also will be refunded.

Can I scalp tickets?

Yes. It's legal to resell tickets for a profit in Florida, a result of a 2006 change in state law. There may be restrictions on locations for the resale of tickets around Tropicana Field.

Can I expect tickets to be available for general sale through the Rays after the presale is over?

If postseason ticket sales this year are anything like the Rays playoff run in 2008, there won't be any general sale tickets available through the Rays. Games 1, 2 and 5 of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field sold out during the 2008 presale and never made it to general sale. Many fans who wanted tickets had to buy season tickets to get some of the limited number of playoff tickets that remained.

What is the postseason game schedule?

The schedule isn't set. But here are the possible scenarios:

• If the Rays win the AL East, they will be the host team for the first round against Texas and could host three games at Tropicana Field: Game 1 on Wednesday Oct. 6 and Game 2 on Thursday Oct. 7 are set, with a potential Game 5 on Tuesday Oct. 12.

• If the Rays are the AL wild-card team, they would host one or two games against Minnesota: Game 3 on Saturday Oct. 9, and a potential Game 4 on Sunday Oct. 10.

Are there concerns about parking that I should be aware of?

Parking scams have popped up during Rays games, including people charging drivers for use of a lot they did not own. Drivers returned to their cars only to find them towed. So be sure the person charging you has legal right to the lot. There are more than 120 city-certified parking lots around the Trop. They have permanent metal signs erected on them. The signs are white with blue lettering, and each lot is numbered. Don't just look out for tow signs, though, look for someone trying to hide the tow sign.

How do you avoid buying fraudulent tickets?

The best way to avoid fake tickets is to purchase them from one of only four authorized dealers: the Rays box office, raysbaseball.com, Ticketmaster and StubHub.

During the 2008 playoffs, some people spent as much as $400 buying tickets from an individual only to find at the gate that the bar code already had been scanned. And it is difficult to identify fake tickets because some real ones are printed on home printers.

Watch out for tickets that have unfamiliar seat or section numbers, or real tickets that may have been altered. If you do buy them online, make sure you haven't been directed to a fake website and only use credit cards. If you wait until game day, be warned: The "clean zone" ordinance that will clamp down on fraudulent ticket brokers around Tropicana Field won't take effect until Oct. 13 for the American League Championship Series.

Times staff writers Marc Topkin and Jamal Thalji contributed.

Tampa Bay Rays offer a playoff ticket guarantee — at a premium price 09/29/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 30, 2010 12:30pm]

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