For most fans, a costly fantasy

High-price packages for plane, seat, hotel prove harsh reality

January 16, 2001|By Jamie Smith Hopkins and Kate Shatzkin | Jamie Smith Hopkins and Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

The frenetic, jumping-up-and-down joy of Ravens fans gave way to Super Bowl fantasies yesterday - and that's when reality set in.

Just try getting tickets to The Game, seats on a flight to Tampa, Fla., and a hotel room at this late hour.

Oh, yes, they can still be had, but only for a hefty price.

Towson Travel was selling packages yesterday with three nights' hotel stay, airfare and game tickets for $3,449 a person, said travel agent Sharon Prajzner. Tickets from Baltimore to Tampa alone were going for $559.

"Right now, it is available for anybody who wants to pay," Prajzner said. "I think the first planeload will be gone by the end of the day, and everything will probably be gone by Wednesday.

"It's not cheap. Unfortunately, it's just not meant for the average person to do."

Those were words Gary Burns, 47, a glass mechanic from Winchester, Va., didn't want to hear. The Ravens season ticket holder drives two hours each way to see games in Baltimore and really, really wants to be at Raymond James Stadium cheering on his team.

Anticipating a Baltimore Super Bowl appearance, he lined up a hotel room as soon as he got off the plane from Nashville, where he watched the Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans.

But Burns hasn't been so lucky with game tickets. He's taken out newspaper ads offering to trade a round-trip ticket to Tampa for a game seat, but hadn't swung a deal.

"I'll get some money up if I have to, but I'm not going to pay no $1,500," Burns said. "The only people who can get [to the game] is the players and the newspaper people and the TV. The price of these tickets is unreal."

At Golden Tickets, a broker in Plano, Texas, the cheapest Super Bowl seats were going for $1,750 yesterday, said vice president Ram Silverman. The priciest: $4,450.

"A lot of Baltimore fans are going to be surprised when they find out the prices," Silverman said. "New Yorkers in general know what the prices of the tickets are."

Erik Farmer, 26, who works for a Baltimore travel agency, was already in Tampa yesterday, staying with a friend and trying to get those elusive, expensive pieces of paper. He takes two weeks off for the Super Bowl every year - even if, in the end, he has to spend the day watching in a sports bar.

This year the stakes are higher, Farmer said. "I've been a Baltimore football fan since the Colts.

"The prices go up and down, and it looks like the market went up. It's probably going to be tougher. I'm one of those people who's looking for sort of a miracle."

All this purple passion is making some folks see green. More than 2,000 Ravens items - from rookie cards to a 1996 Wheaties box - were up for grabs yesterday on eBay, the online auction house.

Meanwhile, City Hall was decked out for the occasion. Purple-tinged bulbs shown from antique lampposts. Purple ribbons were tied around the columns. A huge banner proclaimed "Ravens Roost City Hall Chapter."

And someone put Ravens shirts, pompoms and other team gear on the solemn second-floor statues.

In Annapolis, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said New York Gov. George E. Pataki had offered up Long Island little-neck clams against Maryland crabs in a Super Bowl wager.

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, sporting a purple tie at a breakfast to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said he'd been up until 5 a.m. with fans to greet the Ravens when they came back to town.

"I think we're going to be America's team," he said, "because we're the underdogs."

Sun staff writers Jamie Manfuso and Gady A. Epstein contributed to this article.

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