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Some Cavs playoffs tickets going for $14,999

CLEVELAND -- Buy a used car, make a down payment on a house
or sit courtside to see LeBron James in the NBA Finals? Asking
prices for premium seats are reaching five figures as the Cavaliers
bring the championship series to Cleveland for the first time.

Maybe mortgage lender Dan Gilbert can provide financing to buy
that $40,200 four-pack of tickets offered online to watch the
Gilbert-owned Cavaliers against San Antonio.

Tickets to Cleveland's home games -- June 12 and 14 and, if
needed, June 17 -- at the Quicken Loans Arena named for Gilbert's
business are a hot item, even in this blue-collar city with limited
champagne tastes.

The prices are too steep for Shawnte Johnson, 30, of nearby
Euclid, who had to settle Tuesday with buying four $24 Cavaliers
T-shirts.

"I would love tickets," she said outside the arena. "They're
very expensive. Can't afford it."

And what about the tickets offered for $14,999 on the team's
online ticket reselling site?

"That's a mortgage and a car note," Johnson said.

Johnson still has a chance, perhaps one in 100, for the
opportunity to buy tickets for $30 to $80 each. She and more than
20,000 others have entered the team's online lottery for the chance
to buy tickets.

Team vice president Chad Estis won't call the game a sellout
because of the several hundred tickets set aside for the lottery
and several hundred more available as an incentive to buy season
tickets for next year. Paying a premium to fans willing to sell
looks like the best chance to see the game in the arena.

Nearly 1,000 tickets were offered on the club's FlashSeats.com
reselling site Tuesday, with prices of $300 to $14,999. Estis said
it was hard to estimate how many might change hands because some
ticket holders are ready to deal and others want to make a killing.

Of course, the same is true for buyers: One fan offered to buy a
ticket for a pretzel-sized $2 -- no offers showed up in response
after several hours online -- and the high bid was $2,000.

Estis, who saw many empty seats in the arena when he joined the
club six years ago, said the ticket-buying response from fans
matched the excitement of four years ago when the club landed the
rights to James, who grew up 40 miles away in Akron.

The team's online ticket reselling outlet can protect fans from
counterfeit tickets, something one fan learned the hard way.

Police Lt. Thomas Stacho said a fan who paid $375 for two
tickets called police to complain that the tickets turned out to be
fakes for a nonexistent seating section. Undercover officers
contacted the seller about buying tickets and arrested the man,
Stacho said.

Amazing Tickets Inc. in suburban Beachwood has sold courtside
tickets at $10,000. President Mark Klang said he has fielded calls
from as far away as New York and Washington, D.C., and said
high-end tickets for the games in both cities sell in the same
price range -- $2,000, $3,000 or more.

The San Francisco-based StubHub.com ticket reseller has found
fans willing to pay more for Cleveland tickets -- probably because
it's the team's first championship series -- and said the series is
one of the top items among the 20,000 events listed on its site.

"It's certainly one of the hottest sports events, far and away
hotter than the NHL finals," said Sean Pate, StubHub's public
relations director.