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Boston Capital

As Red Sox sank, so did ticket resale market

The Red Sox season will stumble to its grim conclusion in New York on Wednesday but Ace Tickets owner Jim Holzman already knows how his business fared at Fenway Park this year.

It wasn’t pretty. The resale market for Sox tickets, normally among the hottest in Major League Baseball, went into a nose-dive as the team headed toward its worst finish in 46 years.

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I think of Ace as a ticket broker. Holzman likes to think of himself as a futures trader who buys and sells lots of small contracts that can lose 100 percent of their value if he doesn’t unload them in time.

“We buy hoping they go up in value,” says Holzman. “Sometimes they don’t, that just the nature of the beast.”

This time they didn’t. Holzman says Ace’s business got off to a weak start but otherwise performed normally until late July. By August and through the rest of the season, Fenway tickets that Ace usually resells for anywhere from $29 to $295 apiece were commanding about half that value and often selling below face-value.

In fact, an average resale price of $48 for a Red Sox ticket in September was the team’s lowest monthly amount over the past three seasons tracked by Seatgeek, an online service that aggregates information about tickets from many resellers.

Holzman is coy about what the Red Sox did to Ace’s bottom line. “It certainly was a challenging season,” says the man who buys thousands of Sox tickets every year. You can guess what that means.

Late in the season, Holzman says Ace was stuck with too many tickets and ended up giving away an unusual number.

No one sheds a tear for the ticket broker and, besides, Fenway seats are only a part of Holzman’s business. Dates for Patriots and Celtics games, as well as Boston appearances by performers like Lady Gaga and Rihanna, were highlighted on the Ace Tickets website yesterday. Business goes on.

But a large economic ecosystem of Red Sox season ticketholders depends entirely on the value of a seat at Fenway. Hundreds — perhaps thousands — of season ticketholders count on that resale market to unload some seats in order to help pay for their big purchase. Some have been making profits for years as season ticket owners.

So what about next season? What kind of prices will Red Sox tickets command then? “I lie in bed thinking about that right now,” says Holzman.

Already tickets for the Red Sox opener at Fenway, against the Orioles on April 8, 2013, are listed on Ace’s website. Bleacher seats are offered at $149 and other prices go as high as $725.

Hope springs eternal.

.   .   .

The third quarter of 2012 was generous to stock market investors but, as always, produced plenty of big winners and losers. The Bloomberg index that tracks Massachusetts public companies gained 4.2 percent for the quarter. Among the 198 stocks in the index, a total of 115 gained value.

The list of winners among companies with stock market values over $100 million was topped by Enernoc Inc. of Boston, which gained 79.3 percent through the quarter; right behind was Infinity Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge, which gained 73.4 percent, and Five Star Quality Inc. of Newton, which advanced 66.5 percent.

At the other end of the scale, A123 Systems Inc. shares recorded the worst decline by plunging 80.2 percent. Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Cambridge stock lost 55.6 percent of its value, and shares of BG Medicine Inc. of Waltham sunk by 47.3 percent.

Steven Syre is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at syre@globe.com.
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