Even for UF-LSU, economy dampens ticket demand


A Florida Gators fan walks around before the game against the LSU Tigers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.

Saturday's football clash between Florida and LSU was big — two undefeated Southeastern Conference teams, both ranked in the top 10, with the winner taking an important step up on the national stage.

But fans were not willing to pay big money to watch it live on a sweltering, sweaty afternoon befitting of The Swamp and the swamps of Louisiana.

The professional men of the street — the scalpers along West University Avenue — were grumbling at the lack of action and blaming the still sluggish economy.

People who did buy tickets on the streets got them at a meager price that would have been laughable for such a game five or six years ago.

"I would have maxed on $100 bucks each, but we were waiting and waiting and waiting, and a good deal came along at $82 each, so I took them," said Michael Senteno, a UF alumnus from Jacksonville, tailgating under a relatively cool tent. "I don't think many people are willing to pay much this year."

John Schiffli, who sold Senteno his tickets, is not a professional scalper. The young Gainesville resident had a couple of extra tickets to sell, and said he ended up making a small profit on them but not as much as he wanted.

"I was hoping to get $200 (for his pair of tickets), to be honest. These are padded chairbacks," Schiffli said.

One professional scalper said on a good day he can get $500 for a few hours' work by buying tickets at a low rate and selling them at a higher cost. He said Saturday was not a good day.

A scalper from Jacksonville had a sure-fire prop to bring people to him — a little puppy named Sherlock. Plenty of people — especially young women — came to coo over and pet Sherlock, but none asked about a ticket.

Still, the puppy crowd gave a nearby group of UF students an idea. They were on a volunteer project providing water and Coke to passersby with the hope they would make a donation to the Alachua County Animal Services Paws on Parole adoption program.

"Next time we have to bring a puppy, for sure," Andrea Ramos said.

Gators fans, still hurting from the economy despite the football team showing more promise than last year, are not spending bunches of money on clothing or other UF paraphernalia but sales have been steady, said Bill Olander, owner of the Gator Plus shop on West University Avenue.

The store was packed before the game, but Olander said that instead of buying a few items as they did in good times, fans may buy just one and pay for it on a debit card rather than a credit card.

"It's been pretty busy. It has its lulls, and then we'll get a rush," he said. "The economy still isn't the best in the world."

Meanwhile, as the masses moved into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with about 45 minutes until kickoff, Michelle Moore of Gainesville still had not sold her extra ticket despite wanting only $50 — face value — for it.

Moore was standing on Lemerand Drive just across from the stadium with her parents, Johnny and Pam. They are season ticket holders from Gainesville and said they wouldn't be too disappointed if the ticket didn't sell.

"It would give us a little more room to spread out, which would be nice," Moore said.

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