Wanted: BCS tickets for Gators in Arizona

Published: Monday, January 8, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 11:56 p.m.

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. — Mandy and Katie Warmington wore the pain of ticketless Gator fans on their sleeves — or more accurately, the front of their T-shirts.

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TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun

The sisters have been wearing homemade shirts for two days with puff-paint reading, "Got tickets?" and "Help me I need tickets."

Mandy Warmington, 24, of Chicago said Sunday afternoon she's had no luck yet and only expects to get tickets right before the National Championship Game — if at all.

"There's more people looking for tickets than selling them," she said.

Her sentiment echoed the general consensus in Scottsdale, where there are hundreds of Gator fans but few people selling tickets.

Every arriving flight seemed to bring another group of fans who needed tickets and were posting signs, making calls and asking strangers to try to get them.

Scalping tickets is legal in Arizona, though prohibited in the area near the game. For some fans running into scalpers at the Phoenix airport and other locations, the $1,000 or more asking price was too costly for their tastes.

"I kept getting leads but I refuse to pay the $1,000," said Jeff Van Nocken, 43, of Gainesville.

He said he made the trip to Phoenix via Los Angeles. On the flight from L.A., he said there were about 90 Gator fans and 20 of them didn't have tickets.

He said he wasn't worried. He was enjoying the pre-game festivities and wouldn't mind just watching the game on a big-screen television outside the stadium. "It's alright — I'm having a good time," he said.

Some travel company officials were telling fans to prowl for tickets at game-related events or wait to buy tickets from scalpers outside the game.

On the Internet, tickets were being sold for $1,000 or more but brokers said the price was coming down as the game approached.

Eli Esquivel, 30, of Palm Beach County said he's only willing to pay up to $500.

"I told my wife — you better be prepared to watch the game in the corner bar," he said.

He said he wouldn't be crushed if he were kept out of the game.

"I'm here for the experience," he said.

Riki Takeshita, 35, said he flew in from Slidell, La., with a mission to get a ticket. He bought a lanyard that holds a ticket and placed a sign inside saying he needed one.

"The problem is everyone I see, they need tickets, too," he said.

In Buckets bar in Scottsdale, which has been given the name The Swamp for the game, fans posted signs with their phone numbers and pleas for tickets.

Jordan Spak, 26, of New York carried a sign reading, "Top dollar paid, tickets wanted." He said he was going to try to haggle, but was willing to pay $2,000 or more for a ticket.

"You can't put a price on seeing the National Championship," he said.

Cindy Tekrul, 40, of Atlanta said she bought plane tickets and booked a hotel on the night of the National Championship announcement.

"I've been looking for a ticket ever since," she said.

Mandy Warmington said she thought she finally had tickets Sunday, but the owner lived in Pensacola and couldn't find a way to get them to Arizona.

Now she expects to wait until the game starts and hope for someone desperate to unload tickets.

"I'll take it after kickoff," she said.

Nathan Crabbe can be reached at nathan.crabbe@gvillesun.com.

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