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How I bought a Super Bowl ticket for $100
By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

The Super Bowl ticket is known as a tough get for the average fan. There's no public sale, and the face value -- $400 for Super Bowl XXXVI this year -- means absolutely nothing, since brokers usually can charge four to five times that much.

Darren Rovell Safari
It took Darren Rovell less than two hours to work the secondary ticket market to his advantage.
But this year is different. A variety of factors, from the economy to Sept. 11 to the lack of hotel rooms in New Orleans to perhaps even the teams that made it, have combined to soften the market. Broker prices opened at around $1,250 last Sunday night but have dropped by about $150 a day throughout the week.

If any Super Bowl was going to be affordable, this would be it. How affordable? A little more than 90 minutes before kickoff, I bought a ticket for $100. Here's what happened:

2 p.m. CT
Three hours and 32 minutes before game time, and tickets are starting at face value for upper-level, 50-yard-line seats. There are plenty available, and there's a lot of time.

2:17 p.m. CT
One guy is selling lower-level, end-zone seats for $400. He clarifies, "I'm not a scalper, I'm selling it at face value."

2:18 p.m. CT
Good point. The police, who are supposed to arrest anyone selling a ticket for more than face, don't have to worry. For one, it's doubtful any will fetch more than face value. Plus, sellers are holding their tickets out in the open, some waving them vigorously.

2:25 p.m. CT
The sellers are starting to get a read on the market. Last-minute sales aren't happening. I'm offered upper end-zone seats at $200. Fifty percent off? Nah.

2:27 p.m. CT
Get a similar offer. Guy tells me that they're selling on Bourbon Street for $300.

2:35 p.m. CT
I make it known I'll buy for $150. Two guys selling look at me like I'm crazy. "I just got $300 for basically the same seat," one of them says.

2:38 p.m. CT
Things are getting better for me. Someone selling two tickets gives up. He wants to go inside. Unfortunately, I'm not at the right place at the right time. Instead, Chuck Newell and his 10-year-old son get free tickets to the Super Bowl. "He told us he wanted to give them to a father and a son," Newell says. The Newells are staying with relatives for the night, so their only costs are gas from Jackson, Tenn., to New Orleans and food.

2:47 p.m. CT
Won't drop my $150 demand. One guy says, "You'll get a good fake ticket for that."

3:07 p.m. CT
Every seat is selling for below face value. Even lower-level, 50-yard-line seats. Someone quotes me the $200 price. After I tell him about the basic rules of supply and demand, he says, "My supply don't equal your demand." Good one.

3:15 p.m. CT
I've broken the $200 barrier. Upper-level, end-zone seat for $175. I can't believe I'm saying no to this. This is ridiculous, but my new asking price is $125.

3:18 p.m. CT
The lines to get in are getting very long. With the tight security, I figure it might take a good 40 minutes to get through. I'm going to use this. "With this line, I'm coming close to missing kickoff," I tell one seller. Of course, I have a media pass and actually can get through in less than five minutes. (My pass is hidden under my sweater.) It doesn't work. He still wants $200.

3:19 p.m. CT
I'm getting confident. I tell a seller that I only have $125 in my pocket, and that's all I'm spending. (I really have $209.) "I collect Super Bowl tickets," he says. "I can get at least $150 for an unused ticket." I have to find someone who doesn't know about eBay.

3:20 p.m. CT
"How I bought a Super Bowl ticket for $125." Doesn't sound good. I decide it has to be $100.

3:22 p.m. CT
I get a price of $115 for an upper end-zone seat. I pass. Other sellers tell me I'm stupid. I start to believe it. I walk back to my $115 guy and tell him to give me 10 minutes to shop around.

3:33 pm. CT
So I took 11 minutes. My guy is gone. I could be doomed. Two hours until kickoff.

3:46 p.m. CT
Some guy comes running off a side street about two blocks from the Superdome entrance. He has three tickets. The way he came running, though, it looks like he just made them at Kinko's. I tell him I have someone who will sell me a ticket for $115. He tells me he'll sell it to me for $115. I tell him I like the other guy (who has disappeared) better.

3:48 p.m. CT
After inspecting the ticket for the hologram with the flag and Lombardi Trophy on the front and the blue football hologram on the back, I tell him I'd give him $115. He says yes.

3:50 p.m. CT
I have the ticket in my hand, but I remember that it can't be "How I Bought a Super Bowl Ticket for $115." I tell him I'm paying him $100.

3:51 p.m. CT
Louisiana Superdome
The view from the upper deck, east side of the stadium.
After much consideration, he says yes. Gate 6, Section 642, Row 16, Seat 11. It's on the 30-yard line, upper level. I'm in, baby. Going to watch the game.

5:13 p.m. CT
After stopping by the media work room to write up my tale, I buy some peanuts, ride up five escalators and ... find someone sitting in my seat. (I didn't use the ticket to get in. I have a media pass and an intimate relationship with eBay, remember.) That Kinko's crack comes rushing back. But I ask the guy in No. 11, and he graciously slides over one, to his real seat. I'm in.

5:32 p.m. CT
One final note, with kickoff moments away. The person sitting to my left bought her ticket on Friday and paid $800. The person sitting to my right bought his last night and paid $500. It's all about knowing the market.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn.com.



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