Top Sugar official unhappy with big sale

NEW ORLEANS -- While Nokia Sugar Bowl tickets are scarce for
almost anyone, a restaurant owner managed to buy more than 1,000
for this year's game.

Paul Hoolahan, executive director of the Sugar Bowl, said he is
aware that Joe Impastato bought more than 1,000 tickets and that he
is "not happy" about the situation. Hoolahan said Impastato had
unauthorized access to tickets.

"They were sold to him by the ticket manager," Hoolahan said.

Former Sugar Bowl ticket manager Colleen Landry said she left
her job in October by mutual agreement with Sugar Bowl officials
and that health problems contributed to her leaving.

Hoolahan declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding
Landry's departure. But Landry said she's still unsure if selling
tickets to Impastato was wrong, or the reason that her bosses
decided she should vacate the job she'd held for 25 years.

"I'm still trying to figure that out," she said. "My job is
to sell tickets."

Tickets for this year's game are in high demand because
LSU is playing Oklahoma for at least a share
of the national championship.

Landry said Impastato, who owns an Italian restaurant in
Metairie, has been buying Sugar Bowl tickets for years. Hoolahan
declined to give the location of Impastato's tickets, citing
security reasons.

When asked about having 1,000 Sugar Bowl tickets Tuesday,
Impastato said, "I don't have any. You got the wrong information.
I have nothing else to say. You're knocking on the wrong door."

But Wednesday, when asked if he purchased 1,000 tickets for the
upcoming game, Impastato said, "I had tickets in the past. Why do
you want to know?"

Landry said Destination Management Inc. acquired 9,000 tickets
for this year's game as the bowl's official travel agent. She also
said there were others, like Impastato, who bought tickets in large
quantities, but she provided no other specifics.

"I don't know why you're just picking on that one person," she

The Sugar Bowl held no public ticket sale this year, Hoolahan
said, because all of the 72,000 tickets available were
contractually obligated.

Hoolahan said Impastato, who is the uncle of a St. Tammany
Parish Council member, paid for his tickets between September and
the end of October.

Face value for the tickets is $150, but brokers are charging
several thousand dollars for the best seats and no less than $500
for upper-level seats. At those rates, 1,000 tickets would cost
$150,000 to buy at face value and would have a market value of at
least $500,000 and up to $1 million if the seats sold for $1,000

Sandeep Soni, a veteran ticket broker with outlets in Dallas and
Atlanta, said Impastato is considered one of the top three ticket
sources for sporting events in New Orleans.

Soni said he has purchased Super Bowl tickets from Impastato and
that the restaurateur sells his tickets as part of a package that
typically includes hotel rooms, meals and even airfare.

State law prohibits resale of tickets above face value, but
brokers can sell tickets as part of a package that includes hotel
rooms, meals and other amenities.