With their long-awaited Spring Fling Tour just a few weeks away, The Dead are hoping to edge out ticket scalpers when it comes to the best seats in the house.

The iconic jam band recently announced that it held back prime seats during public on-sales for each concert, opting instead to release the high-demand tickets in an online auction with bids starting at $250. The first five center rows for each show will be up for grabs, along with memorabilia and meet-and-greet packages.

Proceeds raised through the auction, held at CharityFolks.com, will benefit band-supported charities the Further Foundation, the Unbroken Chain Foundation, the Sea Shepherd Conversation Society, and The Dead’s own Rex Foundation. The band hopes to raise $250,000 over the course of the various auctions, which began March 23.

“Needless to say, like any charity these days, their revenues are down right now. They’re hurting,” guitarist Bob Weir told the Associated Press. “We want to do what we can to keep these folks up and running and in business.”

While the band is worried about the state of charitable giving in the current economy, The Dead doesn’t want to keep everyone in business with these ticket sales. The rockers hope to cut down on ticket scalping and resale by only allowing winning bidders to pick up their tickets on the day of the show.

“We want to keep away from all of that,” explained drummer Mickey Hart in an interview with Billboard. “You always keep your fingers crossed that the bad guys don’t get in there and turn profits for themselves.”

Guitarist Bob Weir added that the practice of reselling tickets for a profit “should be illegal. Nobody benefits but a few people. The band doesn’t get any of that money. The people have to pay more money for what they should rightfully be getting for way less. It’s immensely frustrating.”

The Dead’s spring tour begins Apil 12 at Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, NC, and continues through some recently added concert dates for a May 16 closing show at The Gorge Amphitheatre in Quincy, WA.

The group will reprise the lineup from its fall 2008 benefit concert for President Obama with the “Core Four” original Grateful Dead members leading the way: Weir, Hart, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann. Guitarist Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule) and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti (RatDog) will round out the lineup.

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