O's sending out playoff ticket invoices for first time since 1997

The thrill of preparing for a possible postseason extends beyond the Orioles' clubhouse and the fan base.

The act of stuffing envelopes within the team's offices generated just as many smiles, but mainly because of what those mailings contain. By the end of business Thursday, invoices for Orioles postseason tickets will be sent out to all season-ticket holders - those who have full plans and partial ones.

An announcement about when playoff tickets will be available to the general public is expected in mid-September, according to Orioles director of communications Greg Bader.

This marks the first time since the O's 1997 wire-to-wire campaign that the team has sent out postseason offerings.

"It's obviously an exciting step because we haven't had the fortune of being able to do that the last few years," Bader said. "It's been a while. We hope fans are as excited as we are to go through it, to actually receive it and to have the opportunity to be there.

"This year, the fact that there's that second wild card and adds that wild card one-game matchup, it creates a lot of excitement. And we could very well be hosting a winner-take-all wild card and we'd want, of course, to make sure the fans are ready to go when and if that game happens."

The invoices provide plan holders the opportunity to purchase a number of playoff tickets based on the size of their plan. Those with full-season tickets will be invoiced for all 10 possible home games while those with a 29-game plan are offered five pre-selected contests and those with 13 games can get three pre-selected contests.

The deadline for accepting tickets is Sept. 7 with two payment options. Season-ticket holders can pay the full invoice if they want to have a chance to get a refund on games not played. Those who choose that option can also roll that money toward 2013 season tickets. The other choice is to pay half with no refund potential. If games aren't played, that money is credited toward 2013 tickets.

Bader said the general public will have "plenty of notice" as to when the remainder of the playoff tickets will be available. By mid-September, the Orioles should have a better grasp of how many that will be once plan holders make their purchases and Major League Baseball submits for its allotment.

The Orioles are also considering a pre-sale for season-ticket holders to buy additional tickets if that inventory is available. Bader also said an incentive to buy 2013 season tickets is being discussed, where fans could buy a plan for next season and have access to 2012 playoff tickets early. Details could be announced next week.

"The season is now almost three-quarters complete and here we are right in the thick of things, a half-game out of a spot," Bader said. "It's an exciting place to be, so we feel it and we're going to prepare as if we're in the playoffs because if and when that happens, we will be ready."

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