Ever since the New York Yankees announced ticket prices for their new $1.5 billion stadium, fans and the media have been critical that some of the tickets were overpriced. Well, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner admitted Thursday that he agrees, to an extent.

“I think if anybody in any business had known where this economy was going to go, they would have done things differently,” Steinbrenner said to the Associated Press. “Look, there’s no doubt small amounts of our tickets might be overpriced.”

The tickets that have been in question are the premium Legends Suites seats that have been sold for as much as $2,500 as part of season tickets and include food and drinks. But Steinbrenner was quick to mention that the Yankees also offer tickets for as low as $5 for some obstructed-view bleacher seats.

“We understand that a lot of our fans are struggling. I mean, this is the worst recession in most of our lifetimes,” he said. “But at the same time I think baseball has always been an escape for people, you know? And I think what we’re going to provide here is an unbelievable experience for thousands and thousands of our fans that, despite the troubles they’re going through right now, maybe they’ll be able to get away for two or three hours, get their minds off things. And we’re going to make that experience, you know, tremendous.”

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A recent survey of baseball fans asked the question, “What’s the biggest problem with baseball?” From the choices they were given, 49 percent of the fans said “It costs too much to attend a game.” According to the Team Marketing Report that was released this week, this year won’t be any different, with the average ticket price increased 5 percent from last season.

In addition, the report also says the Yankees jumped their rival the Boston Red Sox in the standings. Not in the American League East, but in the race for the highest average ticket price in baseball. For 2009, the average ticket price at the new Yankee Stadium will cost $72.97, more than $20 higher than the Red Sox at $50.24 and nearly $60 more than the Arizona Diamondbacks which had the lowest average price at just $14.31.

Last season, the Yankees ticket sales benefited from the nostalgia of leaving the historic old Yankee Stadium. This season they hope to build on the excitement of moving to the new stadium. For their opening game at the new stadium on April 16 against the Cleveland Indians, that excitement was evident on the secondary market.

According to StubHub data, there are nearly 6,000 tickets available with the average selling price currently at $397. That is more than $100 higher than the NCAA National Championship game is currently going for.

On TicketNews’s parent company Web site TicketNetwork.com, ticket prices for the opener range from $209 per ticket to as high as $4,713. Similarly, RazorGator has more than 1,300 tickets available ranging in price from $233 to $5,819.

All season long the secondary market will benefit from the new stadium, especially if the Yankees continue to win. Series with the Red Sox, Mets and Rays will also be big sellers this season. Since mid-February, the Yankees have been among the top five sports events on TicketNews’s Top Event Rankings, and number one three of the last five weeks.

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(Image accompanying this story is from The New York Post)