Good seats to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15 have been tough to get, and a gulp-inducing splurge for those lucky enough to land some.

But this weekend, the market made some room for those of more modest means to gain entry to the big game — if they are willing to sit in (relatively) cheap seats or to attend events before the main game.

Blake Fry of River Falls, Wis., bought two tickets for All-Star Game seats that aren't as good as his season-ticket seats. "We can say we were there without taking out a second mortgage," he said.

Official ticket sales started last year. Minnesota Twins season-ticket holders got first dibs. The general public then had the option of entering a ticket lottery.

Each ticket comes as a strip, so the price of one ticket includes entry to FanFest, the Futures Game, the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game. The cost of a single strip ranges from $401 to $1,416 for Champions Club members.

Season-ticket holders and lottery winners snapped up two-thirds of the 39,000 seats available at Target Field. The remainder went to corporate sponsors, MLB teams, players and owners.

"The best players in baseball are on one field at one time. It's the only time it happens," MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said about the game.

Bourne said that compared to other marquee sports events, the portion of All-Star Game seats available to the public is relatively substantial. For instance, the public has access to only about 1,000 seats at a Super Bowl.

Tickets still out there

By this weekend, All-Star tickets were available only on the secondary market — brokers to whom ticket holders sold tickets they don't want or need. Most brokers divided the strips and sold tickets individually to events so fans could choose which they want to attend.

While the best seats for the All-Star Game remained costly on the secondary market this weekend, Home Run Derby prices dipped, and FanFest tickets were in the cellar.

Even among tickets for the game itself, prices varied. Demand and price were strong for infield seats. But the cost to get on the home run porch was softening, according to Tom Patania, president of Riverdale, N.J.,-based Select-A-Ticket broker. Overall, he said near the end of last week, "The market is still stable, so we're still buying tickets."

This weekend was a good time to shop as agents, sponsors and players started arriving in Minneapolis and more tickets became available, Patania said.

Michael Nowakowski, the president of Ticket King broker in Minneapolis, said he was surprised that Home Run Derby prices dropped 25 percent on the secondary market. "The Home Run Derby, throughout the years, had been picking up steam as far as something that people want to see," he said, adding that tickets that were selling for $225 had sunk to $165 late last week.

Tickets for Sunday's celebrity and futures games were starting at a paltry $10, while entry to the five-day FanFest at the Minneapolis Convention Center was available for $1 online. "There's no market for them," Nowakowski said of FanFest tickets. "We're giving them to people that buy tickets" for other All-Star events.

Dream game or hype?

Fans chilling on Target Field Plaza before a game last week were of mixed minds on the value of the All-Star Game.

Festooned in red, white and blue metallic beaded necklaces over their Mauer and Mientkiewicz jerseys, a trio from Inver Grove Heights said they won't attend, but not for a lack of desire. The friends attend some 20 games together each year with season tickets held by Linda Wiplinger. Despite owning six season tickets, Wiplinger said she could only buy two All-Star tickets.

Her friend Vikki Hancock injected, "Then who does she pick?"

LaDonna Lundberg added, "We wanted to at least go to the game or the Home Run Derby. Even the old-timers' game would have been fun."

Wiplinger said she would have handed the tickets to her friends rather than choose between them. "I know what would have happened — I would have stayed home," she said.

Joe Thompson, who attends just a couple of Twins games a year but listens faithfully to them at his Willmar home, said he wasn't interested in the All-Star contest, calling it "more hype than anything else."

"It does give some recognition to the good players," he said. "But the best players sometimes don't even get into the game. I'm more interested in seeing a game like tonight that counts."

Nearby, Fry, his daughter Abby, 11, and son Liam, 8 waited. Abby will go to the All-Star Game and Liam will see the Home Run Derby the night before. "He gets to see tons of home runs, and I get to see a real game," Abby said.

Seat prices up to $4,952

For those with the best seats, the All-Star Game has been expensive.

Target Field's Champions Club features 400 capacious, padded seats that come with access to an all-you-can-handle food and drink buffet, as well as a view of the Twins' indoor batting cages. Those front-row seats, just 45 feet behind home plate, cost $295 during a regular-season game.

Twins spokesman Kevin Smith said all season-ticket holders in the section bought All-Star ticket strips at $1,266 to $1,416 per seat.

On the ticket broker site Stub Hub, Champions Club seats for the All-Star Game were priced at up to $4,952 on Thursday.

Ticket King's Nowakowski said his best seats — in the front row, behind the dugout — are selling for $2,800 each. His cheapest seat was $500.

"It's not exactly like they're cheap seats to begin with," said Brian Short, a Champions Club season-ticket holder who sat in the second row to the right of home plate. "If you like baseball, you couldn't be in a better place."

Dale Ewald's season tickets are not nearly as expensive — he sits in a section alongside the Champions Club — but he said he was still paying roughly $900 for an All-Star Game seat.

Escalating ticket prices are just part of life, he said. He recalled paying about $40 a ticket when he saw the Vikings lose in Super Bowls in the 1970s.

Ewald, who lives in Hutchinson, said he attended both the 1965 and 1985 baseball All-Star games in Minnesota, and that come "hell or high water, we're going to be here."

Free chance to see players

MLB's Bourne touted the variety of options for those of modest means. "You can still have a great All-Star experience," he said.

For instance, the Red Carpet show, where players parade through town before the game, is free. "People can just show up," he said.

And attending FanFest might include a brush with a baseball great. "In many instances, you can be up close to a player," Bourne said.

If these prices seem high, take a deep breath. By 2018, when the Super Bowl comes to Minneapolis, who knows how much tickets will run? They already start at $800 each. • 612-673-1747 • 612-673-4388