At the box office, everyone used to be equal. The only way to get super-close tickets for U2 or the Rolling Stones was to wait in line on the first day of sales. Web site ticketing has eased the need to camp out overnight in recent years, but with a new wave of corporate-named venues such as American Airlines Center, Nokia Theatre and Smirnoff Music Centre, a cleaner, stress-free option has opened up for Dallasites with the cash.

Fork over somewhere between $7,500 and $12,000 for a Platinum Seat at the AAC, and you'll get tickets to a season's worth of Mavericks and Stars games. As a fringe benefit, you'll also reserve the right to buy tickets to any other concert at the venue. Tickets sell at face value, but there's no need to wait in line, and at least parking is included in the price--what a value! Those who don't care for sporting events can still rent one of the AAC's 10 available suites for a night. For U2's November show, suites sold out quickly at about $15,000 apiece, which included twenty tickets, five parking passes and catering. Think that's too much? Then you're alone, because most shows have sizable waiting lists for cancellations. Guess they can't hold out for the live DVD.



Nokia is only slightly more affordable--a tidy $4,500 will buy a nice seat to every event at the venue for a year, while a $1,295 option allows a concert-goer the right to purchase four 200-level seats to any show. For last week's Dolly Parton show, that would have been an additional $64.50 per ticket, though that at least includes parking and access to a VIP entrance to the venue. Closer 100-level seats cost between $1,500-2,000 each per year--tickets not included. Or, for a mere $1,800, a Korn fan could hole up in one of the venue's three available suites at their Nokia show next week. That price includes 16 tickets and $500 toward beer or catering, but it greatly cuts down on the chances of catching a pick or a drumstick thrown from the stage.

Thanks to the prices, most of these premium seats are sold to businesses, but about a quarter are purchased by individuals. So if you know of one, give me a shout this Christmas--I've never been much for camping.


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