|Buyers outnumber sellers in last-minute crunch
By Darren Rovell
SAN DIEGO -- The grassy area on the corner of Friars Road and Northside Drive isn't used to taking a beating. But come Monday morning, Pacific Bell -- whose building stands on the lot -- might have to consider a resodding.
Because only Super Bowl XXXVII ticket holders could enter the area surrounding Qualcomm Stadium, the street corner a quarter of a mile up the road quickly became the unofficial area of business. Scalpers were hoping to capitalize off the hot market, and fans were hoping supply outnumbered demand.
If things fell apart -- like the time a Raiders fan thought the going rate was 1,500 pesos (about $138) -- a shouting match ensued over who had the right to pay the seller roughly four times the face value of the seat.
Unlike last year's game in New Orleans, where scalpers panicked as it drew close to game time, this year's ticket sellers didn't blink when the four jets flew over the stadium minutes before kickoff or even when word circulated around that the Raiders had taken a 3-0 lead. Nothing was available for less than $1,500 -- the price that brokers originally quoted when the Oakland-Tampa Bay matchup was set in stone last week.
"The prices held up today," said Gene, a broker from Atlanta who sold 120 Super Bowl tickets throughout the week. "But it's still not as good as the Super Bowl three years ago (between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens in Tampa)."
Although Patrick Englert sold the $400 seats he won in the NFL lottery for $1,000 apiece, he came Sunday to see if he could get a cheap ticket. But all Englert went home with was a good suntan.
"There's nobody here with tickets," said the 33-year-old St. Louis man, who has been to seven of the last eight Super Bowls. "Demand has outreached supply by great lengths."
Scott Daly of San Jose, Calif., sold a ticket he bought for $400 this week for $2,000. Daly only sold the ticket because he assumed he wouldn't have a problem getting a ticket close to game time.
"I made the stupid mistake of thinking about the money," Daly said. "I guess I messed up."
"I need tickets" signs manifested themselves in many ways. Nabil Shaheen, who said he had bought last-minute tickets to the last 10 Super Bowls, held a Popsicle stick in his teeth with the message. Rob Iopa, who traveled to San Diego from Hawaii without seats, took the cardboard he had written his message on and stuck it in his hat.
"My hands are getting tired," said Iopa, whose $1,200-per-ticket wish didn't come true. "I didn't have a choice."
For those who were willing to work the streets up and down, there were some values to be had.
Robert Wise, a Colorado man who has been a Raiders fan for 30 years, got his two upper-level end-zone tickets for $900 apiece two hours before the game. Jeff Francis, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan since they expanded into the league in 1976, bought four club seats for $2,000 apiece a few hours before game time.
"I couldn't wait any longer," said Francis, who traveled from St. Petersburg, Fla., with three friends. "I've waited too long, and I'm too close not to go to this game."
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org.