Rockies shut down computers, plan to be up Tuesday

Updated: October 22, 2007, 11:12 PM ET news services

DENVER -- Colorado Rockies officials said Monday their computer system for online-only World Series ticket sales was the target of an "external malicious attack," but they have a backup plan that will allow online ticket sales to resume at noon Tuesday.

Club spokesman Jay Alves couldn't immediately provide details of the attack, but said the Rockies ticket Web site would back up. He said nearly 18,000 tickets were available for Games 3 and 4, which will be in Denver on Saturday and Sunday.

"We absolutely have backup plans in place," Alves said without elaborating, referring questions about the attack to Irvine, Calif.-based Paciolan Inc., which runs the computers for the Rockies' World Series ticket sales.

Company representatives did not immediately return phone messages.

"Throughout the day we've evaluated all of our options, and we continue to believe that the only sales approach is the most fair and equitable method to distribute the tickets," Rockies' team president Keli McGregor said in a statement.

The team temporarily suspended transactions earlier on Monday.

"Right now we're shutting the system down," Alves announced outside Coors Field, drawing boos from fans. "We expect to be online at some point."

Rockies Tickets
AP Photo/Ed AndrieskiRockies vice president Jay Alves gives fans outside Coors Field the bad news: Online ticket sales were halted after high demand fueled a system crash. Fewer than 500 tickets were sold Monday.

After getting server-busy or error messages for over two hours on home, work and public library computers, about 100 fans gathered outside the stadium. They chanted "We want tickets!" when Alves came out to speak to reporters.

"We're as frustrated and disappointed as they are," Alves said of the fans.

Initial speculation centered on a barrage of hits for shutting down the system. There were 8.5 million hits, or attempts to connect with the computers, in the first 90 minutes after sales started.

"It was a very, very large response at this point, that's all I can tell you," Alves said about six hours after the site was shut down.

Excited fans lines up at the ticket office only to leave disappointed after security guards insisted no tickets would be sold at the ballpark.

The team said fewer than 500 tickets were sold Monday before the sale was shut down. Alves said those tickets will be honored.

The Series opens in Boston with games on Wednesday and Thursday. Games 3 and 4 will be on Saturday and Sunday in Denver. If there is a Game 5, it will be played Monday in Denver.

The Red Sox held a random online drawing for the right to buy tickets to Fenway Park games, said Ron Bumgarner, vice president of ticketing. The Oct. 15 drawing attracted more than 350,000 fans; the winners bought tickets at a private sale.

The team also had a telephone sale for fans without computer access, Bumgarner said.

"It's our goal to try to make it as smooth and fair and efficient as possible," he said.

A limited number of tickets will also go on sale at Fenway Park on game day, with fans allowed to line up five hours before game time.

Fenway Park tickets range from $50 to $225. Coors Field tickets are $65 to $250.

The Rockies said fewer than 20,000 tickets -- less than half of Coors Field's 50,449 seats -- would be available for general sale in each World Series game in Denver. The remaining seats are allotted to season-ticket holders, the two teams and Major League Baseball.

Season ticket holders were allowed to buy tickets over the weekend, but the team didn't say how many had been sold. One of them showed up at the stadium Monday because he said the system allowed him to buy only two tickets per game instead of the maximum of four.

Officials with Major League Baseball did not immediately return calls.

Irvine, Calif.-based Paciolan Inc., said the crash affected the company's entire North American system.

Monday afternoon, Paciolan CEO Dave Butler said he did not yet know whether demand for Rockies tickets caused the crash.

"This is not the Rockies' fault in any way whatsoever," Butler said. "We are working hard to address it."

About 20 people had lined up in near-freezing temperatures outside the Denver Public Library before it opened in hopes of using public-access computers to score tickets.

Clayton McLeod, a 26-year-old heavy-machine operator, took the day off to try to get seats.

He went to the city's main library to use its computers because he was worried the cable connection in his downtown high-rise might be too slow.

All he had to show for his effort was a parking ticket.

McLeod said he went to about 30 home games this year and spent about $3,000 on postseason tickets.

He said he regrets not buying season tickets -- and getting a guaranteed chance to buy postseason tickets at face value.

One ticket broker was selling lower-deck tickets for between $1,400 and $5,500. One online seller offered tickets in the normally cheap Rockpile section for more than $17,000, although better seats were available for less.

TicketsNow, which sells tickets mostly from season ticket holders online, said traffic on its site quadrupled Monday morning and the average price of a Rockies ticket rose by about $200 to $995 by late afternoon. The average price of a ticket at Fenway Park sold on the site Monday was $1096, senior vice president Mark Hodes said.

The Rockies originally planned to sell tickets at Coors Field and the team's Dugout Stores in the Denver area as well as online. They announced Wednesday all sales would be online, saying that would be more fair.

Fan Mark Pierce, 49, said selling tickets online to everyone rather than setting some aside for Colorado fans was wrong. He said this summer he got to see the Rockies beat the New York Yankees for $4 in the Rockpile.

"It's rude to the Rockies fans, to the people who were the fans all this time when they were losers," Pierce said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.