Some seats selling for thousands

NEW ORLEANS -- The answering machine at the Superdome management office has a simple message: "Thanks for not calling about Sugar Bowl tickets."

Everyone who has a connection to the Jan. 4 game is being
inundated with requests for tickets.

"Obviously, solving the problem of world hunger would be a
little easier than trying to get enough tickets," LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said.

BCS No. 2 LSU (12-1) will play BCS No. 1 Oklahoma (12-1) in the Bowl
Championship Series title game. The winner may earn only half the national title, since Southern California is ranked No. 1 in The
Associated Press poll and probably would finish on top if it beats Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl.

But that hasn't dampened the demand for tickets.

"It started before the teams for the game were announced,"
Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan said. "Once the teams
were announced, it just went crazy."

The Sugar Bowl office phones ring constantly. Requests also keep
the fax machine humming. Hoolahan stopped giving out his cell phone
number months ago, but his home and office machines are loaded with
ticket seekers.

Tickets for the game never went on sale to the general public.

Some fans, who took advantage of the Sugar Bowl's offer to buy
packages for two or more games, were able to purchase tickets. The
other tickets were gobbled up by corporate sponsors, ABC, which
will televise the game, government officials, and others with ties
to the bowl.

Each of the 144 Louisiana legislators has the option to buy at
least six tickets. The Sugar Bowl sells four tickets to each
lawmaker at the face value of $150 each. Plus, LSU sets aside two
tickets for each lawmaker to buy at the same price, said Dan
Radakovich, senior associate athletic director.

Each team gets 16,000 tickets, 1,000 more than in past years.

Those are sold to players, coaches, university staff and
administrators, season ticket holders and students.

Anyone else hoping to attend the game is scrambling to pull
strings, find an acquaintance that can help, or paying big money
for tickets.

"I've had calls from people I haven't heard from in 15 years,"
said Bill Curl, dome public relations director.

Tickets were advertised on the Internet. At the Web Site for
encortickets.com tickets, which all have a face value of $150,
ranged in price from $1,750 for sideline seats to $650 in the end
zone. At ticketsolutions.com they were $1,775 to $665.

Two field-level tickets located on approximately the
35-yard-line were sold Monday evening for $3,250 through the
eBay.com site. There were four pages of active auctions on eBay on
Tuesday for Sugar Bowl tickets, with the lowest-priced listing
being a $500 pair for an undisclosed seat location. The highest
price was $5,100.

Ticket brokers who package game-tickets with hotel rooms were
still selling packages on Tuesday.

At World Pro Travel Inc., a basic package included two game
tickets and a double hotel room for three nights for $950 per

"That's a downtown hotel and the tickets for $1,900," said
company owner Vince Gibson. "It's a lot, but it's a lot less than
some people are asking just for the tickets."

For the Sugar Bowl, the Superdome will be in the same
configuration used at the Super Bowl. That will mean 72,000 seats.
Hoolahan expects over 78,000 people to actually be in the Dome for
the game.

The Sugar Bowl and the company that manages the Superdome and
the Arena next door are discussing the possibility of using the
Arena for additional seating and showing the game on the big
screens there.

There is also another possibility for many people.

"I have friends coming in from Oklahoma and we're going to
spend the weekend on Bourbon Street," said Anne Taylor, of New
Orleans. "We'll just find a friendly bar at game time and watch it
there. There are always other fans there. That's the next best
thing to being at the game."