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Ravens and Steelers fans cheer their teams before the game at Heinz Field.
Ravens and Steelers fans cheer their teams before the game at Heinz Field. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

This week, Cody Tracey and his girlfriend Lydia Mitchell are, in their own words, "on the rocks."

The Catonsville man and Boston woman, both 21, got tickets to the Baltimore Ravens-New England Patriots playoff game Saturday and will be sitting together in the nosebleed section. But he will be wearing purple and black; she will don red, white and blue.

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Gillette Stadium is on the way back to Bates College in Maine, where the two will return next week for the spring semester. While they intend to reconcile, this week they are rivals.

Ravens fans face a number of obstacles in traveling to Foxborough, Mass. Ticket prices are soaring to nearly $3,000 in the stadium club level, some flights are already fully booked and fans are headed into enemy territory.

Many say they are up to the challenge, and players who have no home games this playoff stretch say they welcome the raucous support Ravens fans are known to bring.

"Baltimore has the best fans," veteran defensive end Chris Canty said Monday. "Seeing how they travel to all the road games, particularly the division games, you'll see a lot of Ravens fans. It's impressive. As players, we appreciate it.

"They'll be doing the national anthem and you'll hear all the fans say 'O!' and those are all Baltimore fans," Canty said. "We love it as players."

Ravens spokesman Patrick M. Gleason said Monday that there are no plans for a team-sanctioned sale of tickets for Saturday's game. Typically, a home team provides visiting teams tickets for organizational, staff and player use. The remaining tickets are returned to the home team and sold to the general public, Gleason said.

That leaves fans the option of buying a ticket from a third-party website such as StubHub or investing in a package deal from a broker offering a game ticket and travel accommodations.

Tickets on StubHub's site Monday ranged from $170 in the stadium upper deck to $60,000 for a luxury suite. By comparison, the bargain hunter could find a luxury suite ticket for a mere $48,000 via the Ticket City website.

The going rate on Craigslist was more modest, with two tickets five rows off the 50-yard line going for about $600.

Tom Parsons, an airline industry analyst at bestfares.com, said direct flights from Baltimore to Boston are "reasonable" Friday and Saturday morning. But driving an estimated 61/2 hours (or more) might be the best alternative, especially for those traveling in a group.

"You might find it more beneficial to just drive," Parsons said. "Because fuel has taken a major drop, the more people you can fit into your car, the better off you are to drive."

He said hotel rooms range from $150 around the Boston airport to around $200 for hotels in the city.

As of late Monday, several Southwest flights for Friday from Baltimore to Boston appeared to be booked. Prices ranged from $131 round-trip for early Friday morning flights to $242 on Saturday. Southwest spokeswoman Thais Conway said the airline expected more business from traveling fans.

In January, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport offers, on average, 19 daily direct flights through Southwest and JetBlue to Boston and Providence, R.I., spokesman Jonathan Dean said.

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"We do expect this to be a busy weekend," Dean said. "Travelers in the region are certainly excited about the game. ... We see many passengers, as well employees, with Ravens purple."

Fans also are using local travel groups that offer bus trip and game ticket packages. Brian Snyder started taking reservations Saturday night for $50 tailgate passes and $595 all-inclusive deals featuring a hotel room and a bus, tailgate and game ticket with his company Bmore Around Town.

"The site went live the second that [game] clock struck zero," said Snyder, who ferried more than 200 fans to Pittsburgh for the Steelers matchup. He had reservations to fill one motor coach for this Saturday's game by Monday and expected to sell out two more buses by the week's end.

He said Ravens fans who were a bit leery of their team's chances heading into the playoffs were buoyed by the convincing 30-17 win over the Steelers.

"No one wants to spend that kind of money to see a team lose," he said. But, he added: "All of a sudden, people are back on board. … People think, 'This team actually has a shot.'"

Immediately following Saturday's win against the Steelers, Ravens coach John Harbaugh noted the effort of fans to make the trek to Pittsburgh. "It's a tough stadium to get a ticket into, I know that, for our fans," Harbaugh said. "They did a good job of finding a way in here."

Ashley Van Blargan, a longtime Ravens fan, has never traveled to a playoff game. But after watching the Steelers game as a server at Buffalo Wild Wings in the Festival at Bel Air — where Ravens fans sang "Seven Nation Army" throughout the game — she's considering traveling to Massachusetts with her family Saturday.

"It's so cheap," she said of the trip.

Tracey and Mitchell, the college couple, scored tickets for less than $100 through Mitchell's mother's law firm and plan to stay in her family's home in Boston on Saturday night. Win or lose, Tracey will undoubtedly receive flak for his Ravens jersey from Mitchell's grandmother. The 87-year-old, Mitchell said, is a "huge Patriots fan" and the driving force behind the family's New England fandom.

"We'll find refuge somewhere," Tracey said with a laugh. "It'll be the elephant in the room."

Meanwhile, the Ravens are planning another week of purple festivities building up to Saturday's game, a rematch of the 2012 AFC Championship.

Crews painted the Ravens logo at the courthouse in Towson and at McDaniel College in Westminster on Monday, accompanied by cheerleaders and the mascot Poe. On Wednesday, Ravens employees will stencil cars with the team's logo from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. at M&T Bank Stadium's Lot D. Last week a similar event drew 1,000 fans.

A series of "Flock Parties" are planned throughout the week at businesses. Friday will start with a party at Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium at 6 a.m., move to an event at McKeldin Plaza Skating Rink at 11:30 a.m. and end with a caravan of stops starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Ravens encourage kids to deposit letters to players at special purple mailboxes at dozens of local Giant grocery stores. The letters will be posted in the Ravens' cafeteria for players and coaches.

Baltimore Sun reporters Aaron Wilson, Jeff Zrebiec and Bryna Zumer contributed to this article.

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