Season ticket sales strong for Mets

NEW YORK -- Just 1 to 2 percent of people who placed deposits for season tickets at Citi Field failed to follow through with their purchase, and the New York Mets have sold about 25,000 seats per game for the first season in the ballpark.

Many people committed to season-ticket plans before the economy nose-dived late last year. Mets executive vice president David Howard termed the percentage that didn't follow their deposits with full payments as "very, very, very small."

While the Mets have sold all 49 luxury suites that were available -- reserving two for individual-game sales -- Howard said some inventory remains among the 10,000 premium seats, which include club level. Single-game tickets for the 42,000-seat ballpark will not go on sale until early March.

"It's better than where we were at this point last year," Howard said Tuesday after a news conference at the Baseball Assistance Team annual dinner. "I think we've seen some effects of the economy. I think what we're seeing now is there is a high degree of interest, but people are definitely shopping price. In some cases, they're trying to get partners. We're certainly not going to be spared by economic climate."

Citi Field, which cost $800 million, is scheduled to open with an exhibition game on April 3. That's the same day the $1.5 billion new Yankee Stadium opens.

Yankees spokesman Jason Zillo said about two weeks ago that the team had sold the equivalent of 39,393 season tickets for the roughly 52,000-capacity ballpark.

The Yankees sold $259 million in bonds through Goldman Sachs on Tuesday, with an average interest rate of 7 percent for the $192 million that carried a 40-year maturity. The bonds were rated Baa3 by Moody's and BBB- by Standard & Poors.

"This transaction is significant because it shows that the municipal market is opening for lower-rated investment credits," Goldman Sachs spokesman Michael DuVally said.

In 2006, the Yankees sold $942 million in bonds at an average interest rate of 4.7 percent.

The Mets are to sell about $82 million in bonds through Citigroup on Wednesday. They sold $613 million of bonds in 2006.