NEW YORK -- Those $250 box seats at Yankee Stadium will seem inexpensive in 2009.
The New York Yankees will charge $500 to $2,500 for seats near home plate in the first five-to-eight rows of their new ballpark. They already have commitments from ticket-buyers for all 122 of the front-row seats.
Lonn Trost, the team's chief operating officer, sent a letter to season ticket-holders on March 14, outlining premium seating in the new $1.3 billion ballpark and inquiring if fans wanted to upgrade. The team's Web site touts the premium areas as "an exclusive experience for those with discerning taste who seek the very best that life has to offer."
Trost said Friday the team already had received more than 3,000 upgrade requests for next year.
"It was a remarkable response," he said.
In the final season of the current Yankee Stadium, the team has 162 Legends seats ringing the infield mostly in two rows, with tickets priced up to $1,000 a game. Behind that are 3,000 Field Championship seats, which sold for $250 a game this year as part of season tickets. Those same seats cost just $25 in 1996.
The new ballpark will have 1,800 Legends Field Suite seats in 25 sections ringing home plate, with seats 20 feet closer to the infield than the current stadium. Food and nonalcoholic drinks are included in the ticket price, and there will be a private entrance, elevator and concourse.
"You will delight in the premium amenities, including cushioned seats with teak arms, in-seat wait service, concierge services, private restrooms and a delectable selection of all-inclusive food and beverages," the Web site said. "Exclusive access to the bi-level Legends Suite Club and two Legends Suite Dugout Lounges helps make the Legends Suite the most coveted ticket in sports."
Fans must buy those seats for three, five, seven or 10 seasons, Trost said, and buyers will lock in at a specified scale of price increases. The team's premium seating plan was first reported Friday by The New York Times.
There will be 1,200 Main Level Outdoor Suite seats in nine sections behind the plate priced at $350 to more than $500 next year, Trost said, with fans having to buy them for four, six, eight and 10 years. There will be 1,300 Terrace Level Outdoor Suite seats in nine sections behind the plate costing $100, $115 and $135, and fans must commit to them for two, four, six, eight or 10 seasons.
New York has lease commitments for 29 of 47 luxury suites in the new ballpark at prices from $600,000 and $850,000, and will have a 74-seat Club Suite priced at $700 per ticket, food (but not alcohol) included.
As for the regular seats, the Yankees hope to send out a relocation plan in April. Through Thursday, the Yankees had sold 39,141 full-season equivalents.
Trost said there will be about 11,000 non-premium seats at field level and 12,000 at the main level. He said 25,000 seats from the final year of the current ballpark won't be increased for 2009.
"Of the non-premium seats, 88 percent will be less than $100," he said. "It's easy to say that that's not cheap, but on the other 55 percent of the ballpark is going to be $45 or less. That's over 24,000 seats. We recognize everybody can't afford the suites. At the same time, we're trying to allow those suite prices to subsidize the other seating in the stadium. Look, the bleachers are $12, will be $12. The grandstand is $20 and $25, will be $20 and $25."