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Hundreds, maybe thousands, of ticket buyers waiting in line Saturday for this summer's Billy Joel-Elton John concert got a rude surprise when they asked about ticket prices.

Remember those $27.50 tickets that promoters advertised when announcing the July 14 show in Rich Stadium?

Forget it. They didn't exist -- at least not for those who called Ticketmaster or stood in line at local Buffalo-area ticket outlets Saturday for first crack at seats.

The higher-range tickets advertised for $75 and $40 were not selling for that, either.

Those who did get through by phone or were patient enough to wait in line could pay $46 or $85 per ticket.

Or they could do what some people did. They could get mad and decide they didn't want to go.

"I think it stinks," said Donna Brese of Hamburg, who started calling the Ticketmaster phone number at 8:50 a.m. and finally got through at 2 p.m. "I enjoy seeing concerts, but I can't afford going to a $85 or even $46 concert. So when there is a chance to go for $27.50, I could afford that.

"When I finally got through and found that price was a crock to begin with, I was really hot," she said.

Jan Krupa, manager of Precision Bicycles on Main Street in Williamsville, which sold Joel-John tickets, said he found 350 people waiting in line for him outside his store Saturday before he opened at 9 a.m.

"There were cars parked all over the place," Krupa said.

When some people found the $27.50 tickets were not available, they were not happy.

"They were freaking out," said Krupa. "They were going nuts. They were huffing and puffing and stomping out."

Krupa said the people upset over the ticket prices caused no disturbance. They were just angry. But the majority of people, even when discovering the ticket prices were higher than they expected, bought their tickets anyway, according to Krupa.

Krupa said he did not know why the ticket prices were higher and said there was no explanation or breakdown of service charges on the tickets.

"That $27.50 ticket?" he said. "There is no such animal."

Ticket prices were the same at the Ticketmaster outlet in Kaufmann's in Walden Galleria in Cheektowaga. Store manager Arlie MacDonald referred all questions to a corporate public relations manager, who was not available Saturday night.

But a sign behind the ticket desk stated tickets were going only for $46 and $85. People were still waiting in line Saturday night, whatever the price.

"I was going to try to get tickets in the $40 range anyway," said Amy Conmy of Buffalo, who said she was going to buy a block of eight tickets and go with a group of 16 of her female friends.

Janice Margolis, a spokeswoman for the public relations firm representing promoters Metropolitan Enterprises, said Saturday night that her latest information listed ticket prices at $75, $40 and $27.50.

"We will do research on this Monday," said Ms. Margolis. "I have no clue."

Efforts to reach officials from Ticketmaster were not successful.

The actual ticket prices contradict an interview Joel had with a reporter from a Florida newspaper during his last "River of Dreams" tour.

Joel has vowed to keep his ticket prices below $28.50 to allow people of all incomes to attend.

"My idea was to try to get the ticket at a price where young people could afford to come," Joel said in the interview. "That makes for a good crowd and a good crowd makes for a good show."

Joel's last tour included a sold-out show March 24 in Memorial Auditorium.

Since Joel has one of the lowest-priced tickets of major concert acts, others in the music industry have accused him of undervaluing his talent.

"We've never been above $30. That's it," Joel answered. "The undervaluing thing, that's a particular cirrhosis of the mind in this business."

Joel spoke affectionately about Buffalo during his March concert, remembering the times he was a warm-up act for The Doobie Brothers. He said The Aud was the first large concert hall he ever played.

"He remembered Buffalo as the place he got started, and how it felt good to be back," Mrs. Brese said. "The rich will be able to go. But at these prices, there's no way I can go."

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