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Want Sabres playoff tickets? With Leafs out of it, availability eases up

Just because the Buffalo Sabres' first playoff game is sold out doesn't mean you can't find tickets.

Look in The Buffalo News classified section, where there were 54 ads for playoff tickets Monday.

Look on craigslist.com, where there were 365 ads listed midday Monday.

Look on eBay.com, where there were 134 listings for Game One against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Of course, you'll likely be paying more than the seats' face value, which ranges from $95 to $180.

But checks with ticket sellers found a plentiful supply -- and more than a few people disappointed that the Toronto Maple Leafs, whom the Islanders edged out Sunday for the chance to open the playoffs against the Sabres, are not the opponent.

"We were banking on Toronto," said Ray, a Buffalo resident who asked that his last name not be used.

Ray had two seats in the 100 level "five rows from the glass" advertised in The News for $1,500. That price assumed that the Leafs, whose fans are known to pay top dollar for tickets even to regular-season games in HSBC Arena, would be playing the Sabres.

"Jeez, on Saturday in Toronto, they were getting $1,000 a seat for the Montreal game," he said.

But Islanders fans are a lot less likely to make the 425-mile trip to Buffalo from the team's home rink on Long Island. So Ray had already reduced the price of the tickets on eBay, where he also had them listed, to $500 for the pair. He said he paid $178 apiece.

A sampling of various online ticket merchants showed a wide range of prices available.

*At stubdepot.com, tickets in the 100 level were listed for as much as $625 apiece, while 300 level seats were listed at anywhere from $220 to $155 apiece.

*Prices were a little lower on gottickets.com, where seats in Row 10 of Section 314 were available for $130 apiece, and two seats at center ice in the 200 level were going for $430 apiece, including parking passes.

*On ticketsnow.com, 10 seats in Row 10, Section 314 were listed for $110 apiece, while the most expensive seats were located in Row 6 of Section 122 and were being sold for $550.

Of course, some of the seats cost much less than the $180 face value of the ticket.

The Sabres told their season-ticket holders earlier this year that if they put a 20 percent down payment by March 2 on renewing their season tickets for next season, they would be able to buy their tickets to the first round of the playoffs at the regular season price.

And so those folks who paid $39 for 100 level seats during the regular season were able to get that seat for $39 in the first round of the playoffs. Those who had seats at the 300 level that went for $21 during the season paid $21 for the seat in the first round, provided they signed upped for next season.

Sabres spokesman Michael M. Gilbert said that 99.5 percent of this year's season-ticket holders purchased their season seats for the playoffs and that 93 percent put down a deposit toward next year.

As a reward to their season-ticket holders, the Sabres also offered them the opportunity to buy extra tickets for the playoffs.

But Gilbert said that with such a large base of season-ticket holders to begin with, "We were able to accommodate only 10 percent of the people who had asked."

Those season-ticket holders who were allowed to purchase extra seats paid face value minus $2, he said. Several of those with tickets for sale said they had purchased the extra seats and now were trying to sell them to help recoup the cost of their own tickets.

That was the case with a woman who had two tickets in Section 315 for sale via a News classified ad and on eBay. The woman, who asked to be identified only as Kris, said she and her husband were looking to help defray the cost of tickets for later rounds.

She said she had sold her two "extra" tickets for the first two games at $500 per game per pair but was thinking of lowering her prices for the next two home games.

"Just those two pair [they sold] brought us a pretty good chunk of change back," she said. "I know demand is high, and I don't want people to go broke just to enjoy the Sabres."

Kris said she has had 15 to 20 calls a day since the tickets were first advertised in The News on April 2.

Another seller, who asked that only her first name, Mary, be used, had two 300 level tickets for the first game on sale via Craig's List for $285. They, too, were extra tickets she was given the chance to buy as a season-ticket holder.

"A lot of people are doing the same thing," she said, referring to season-ticket holders selling early-round games to help finance tickets for later series, assuming the Sabres will advance deeper into the playoffs.

Those looking to buy tickets for the first round in Buffalo can expect to pay about $100 for an upper-level seat and closer to $200 for a lower seat, said Della J. Giammusso, one of the owners of vipseats.com, which has an office in Williamsville.

More-desired seats between the blue lines or along the ice will likely fetch more, she said.

"The first round is not too [expensive]," she said. "A lot of people shy away, thinking it's too expensive."

Vipseats.com specializes in combining tickets with travel, and Giammusso said she had already heard from a number of transplanted Buffalonians looking to come back to catch a Sabres playoff game.

"I've talked to a bunch of people from Las Vegas and California and from North Carolina and Florida," she said.

e-mail: jbonfatti@buffnews.com

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