Prices for Super Bowl tickets don't deter die-hard fans
BALTIMORE (AP) -- Danny Puciato is ready for the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens season-ticket holder has booked a flight to Tampa and has reserved a hotel room.
All he's missing is a ticket to the game.
"It's a lifetime opportunity to see the Ravens in the Super Bowl," Puciato said. "But we're still waiting."
Puciato is not alone. Many New York Giants and Ravens season-ticket holders also find themselves empty-handed.
Their only options are to pay the astronomical auction prices offered by those lucky enough to get a ticket -- or huddle around a TV on Super Bowl Sunday.
Of the 71,000 seats at Raymond James Stadium, about 35 percent are given to the two teams by the NFL. After tickets are dispersed to players, team officials and their families, about 7,500 are available via a lottery to those who hold the 58,000 season tickets sold at PSINet Stadium in Baltimore.
"The reality is that this is primarily a television experience," said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. "There are 130 to 140 million people who will enjoy it, but only 71,000 will go to the game."
The rest of the seats are divided among the NFL office and the other 29 teams in the league. The Houston Texans, who join the league in 2002, get .55 percent of the ticket pool.
The face values of tickets, which range from $325 to $400, have been driven sky-high by those looking to make a quick profit.
Lisa Collins of Baltimore said she has seen prices as high as $1,600 for one ticket. She and her husband, Chris, posted a message on the Ravens' Web site saying they could pay up to $550 apiece for two tickets.
So far, they've had no takers.
"It would mean the world to us, but we have three kids and we can't afford to pay that much," she said.
But many fans are willing to pay, especially when the tickets come as part of a package deal with airfare, hotel and transportation.
"Some people don't care about the money, they just want to go," said Bob Myer of Friendship Travel Service in Glen Burnie. "It's one of those things that people make exceptions for."
The travel agent is offering a top-end package for $3,495, ticket included. Flying out of New York or New Jersey will cost fans between $3,600 and $4,600.
The trips don't come without risk. The U.S. Transportation Department warned people Tuesday to check their packages carefully for tickets. Not all trips offered include tickets to the game, a fact that some marketers try to hide.
Those who buy their tickets online should also be wary, said Scott Brown, a spokesman for the New York attorney general's office.
"Fans beware: If you're dealing with scalpers, brokers or people on the Internet, you have absolutely no way of knowing what you're getting and whether it's real," he said.
Puciato says he will take his chances with scalpers outside the stadium. But the Collinses say they can't afford to take that risk, even though Super Bowl Sunday is also Lisa's birthday.
"That's what makes it worse," she said.