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Here come the fans with money to burn

For many diehard Giants fans, money is no object. The result is Super Bowl tickets going for up to $5,000.

[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Terry Knighten adds bubbles Tuesday to a mural on a vacant building in Tampa. The mural depicts an underwater scene, the city skyline and the Super Bowl XXXV logo.

By SUE CARLTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 17, 2001


TAMPA -- When longtime New York Giants fan Eric Wiener scored two tickets to Super Bowl XXXV, there was no lack of interest from friends.

Some offered "basically a second mortgage on their house," he said. They later got serious and talked of paying him up to $2,500 for a ticket with a face value of $325.

Was he tempted?

Nah.

"I've got to say I thought about it," said Wiener, who obtained the pair through a lottery held for Giants season ticket holders. "We may even spend a couple of precious seconds thinking about it at halftime," when he and his brother are in Tampa on Jan. 28, watching the game live.

"It would take a real amazing amount of money to keep me out of that stadium," said Wiener, an independent computer consultant who lives on the Jersey shore.

Amazing indeed.

Some say the Giants' 75-year history, diehard fans and a lot of disposable income could make admission to Super Bowl XXXV an especially hot ticket.

"As a rule, anything that New York is involved in, the price goes up," said St. Petersburg ticket broker Garry Dines. "I've seen it in basketball, I've seen it in football.

"New Yorkers are proud to pay the big dollar," he said.

Web site postings had a single ticket offered at more than $5,000. On the online auction site eBay, a bid of $4,500 was offered this week for two tickets.

A package, including two end zone seats, accommodations at a "mid-level" St. Petersburg hotel, admission to an Ybor City party, $250 airline vouchers and an assortment of football cards drew a first bid of $4,100.

"Everything in New York is expensive," said Brian Wilder, ticket broker with Gotickets.com in North Carolina. "They make the prices go up. It just makes the ticket tougher to get."

Jason Rosenthal, sales and marketing director for ReservationsDirect.com, says the business of putting out-of-towners into local homes, condos and even the occasional yacht is particularly busy because of a combination of factors. Among them are the balmy weather and "some of the most rabid sports fans, used to success," he said.

History can make for a massive fan base.

"A Giants fan has been a Giants fan for their lives," said NFL vice president of special events Jim Steeg. "I mean, the fact that they've been sold out since the '60s. Their waiting list is like 30,000 long to try to get on it."

Some New Yorkers can afford the price tag.

"You have a certain financial caliber of people (in New York) that is difficult to find anywhere else," said Adam Wiener, a vice president at Office.com who plans to attend the game with his brother, Eric.

"People who make millions in the stock market, a lot of venture capitalists. Wall Street is here for a reason.

"They light their cigars with hundred-dollar bills on the way home, these people," said Eric Wiener.

Will some of that cash get spread around down South?

"The money will be flowing, and it will pretty much be in one direction," said Adam Wiener. "I think all of the fans who are going down are in the mind-set of -- it doesn't really matter how much I spend. It's the fact that I'm there."

-- Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Sue Carlton can be reached at (813)226-3346 or carlton@sptimes.com.

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