If you've got the tickets, scalper has got the time

This Just In...

Live From Tampa

January 26, 2001|By DAN RODRICKS

TAMPA, Fla. - I know the species when I see it - the scalper, the ticket hustler coming around now as the palm tree-lined streets of the Big Guava fill with beautiful people, rock stars and supermodels, veterans of the NFL and their wives, television personalities, movers and shakers from every corner of the corporate America. A red-eyed wink here, a smarmy grin there - the Super Bowl scalper gets their attention, and slips out the question as the beautiful people strut by: "Got any tickets?"

One of them, short fellow in a polo shirt and jeans, stopped me yesterday near the Tampa Convention Center and asked if I was holding.

I was empty. But what if I had some and wanted to sell?

"Call me, baby," he said, and he handed me - are you ready for this? - his business card. "Top $$$$ PAID FOR SUPER BOWL TICKETS," it said. "CALL CLYDE." The card listed a cell phone number with a Virginia area code. Allow me to speculate: Herr Clyde will likely turn around and sell his tickets - at twice or more what he pays - to one of the desperate others working the streets and phones as Game Day approaches. You could see them yesterday outside Raymond James Stadium, site of Sunday's game -- a long line of well-dressed men holding up "Need Ticket" signs.

Meanwhile, outside a busy downtown bar called Hattricks, two more guys were at work - one leaning on a trash can, chain-smoking cigarettes and yapping into a cell phone, his partner on the sidewalk with a small sign hanging from his neck: "Looking For Tickets." They'd just had lunch at Hattricks.

The one with the sign said his name was Billy Brown. He said he was from Massachusetts. He asked me if I had tickets to sell.

No, but what if?

"Seventeen-fifty."

That's $1,750 per ticket? Gee, Mr. Billy Brown, you and your bud must badly want to see the big game, huh?

"I don't want to see the game," he said.

Yeah, well, duh.

Before I booked, I asked Billy Brown if he'd liked Hattricks.

"It's OK," he said. "But I can't recommend the shepherd's pie."

Green Iguana and more

Seen in nearby Ybor City, the wannabe "French Quarter of Florida," where the real Super Bowl parties take place - Elvis working as a doorman. (Not the young one, the old, fat-man-in-a-rhinestone-jumpsuit one.) ... The line of young and well-dressed men and women waiting to get in the Green Iguana was about a block long Wednesday night. ... But there was no line outside a club featuring female impersonators. ("Where Boys Will Be Girls").

Interesting mix of people and places - 20- and 30-something urban hipsters, middle-aged leather-clad bikers, five blond women in mink climbing out of a white stretch, a very strange guy on stilts, all within a neon-burnished block of 7th Street. ... Not far from clubs featuring hip-hop is the classy, old Columbia restaurant, with a stunning tile faM-gade, good Cuban and South American food, and nightly flamenco; Ravens veep Ozzie Newsome had dinner there the other night.

Modell gets call

At his news conference yesterday, Art Modell gave a brief history of the modern NFL and the great windfall from television contracts. He paid tribute to old friends and league visionaries - Rooney, Rozelle, among others - and he lauded salary caps and team parity. He again defended his decision to move his franchise to Baltimore - he actually called the Ravens an "expansion team" - and gave himself credit for leaving the Browns' name (and the "burnt orange on the helmets" and the "seal brown trim") in Cleveland.

Modell heard the news, offered by a reporter, that some people consider him "pompous and arrogant." That seemed to startle the boss. "When did you speak with my wife last?" Modell asked. "I've never been called that. You must have me mixed up with someone else. ... I don't know the meaning of those words. Next!"

Modell's son David, the team's president, spent yesterday morning making stops at Tampa radio shows - a female-oriented, lite-music one, an edgy guy show hosted by "MJ and BJ" and a syndicated shock-jock thing called Bubba The Love Sponge. Bubba dished it out ugly -- ripping Ravens quarterback (and Tampa Bay castaway) Trent Dilfer - but Modell gave as good as he got. He did the Sponge for two hours. ... There's a Sports Talk Nation inside the convention center; it seems like every local (The SportsChix, 1010 AM, Tampa) and syndicated radio show in the country has a setup here. Stan The Fan (WJFK, 1300 AM) is down from Baltimore, and Nasty Nestor (WNST, 1570 AM) Aparicio's "Get Nasty" T-shirts are all over the place, including all over tall, beautiful, former Ravens cheerleader now WCW Nitro Girl Stacy Keibler of Baltimore (Catholic High, class of '97). Miss Keibler has a part in the wrestling show's ongoing soap operas. "I play a troublemaker," she said. ... Correction: The snap, placement and kick of a Matt Stover field goal takes 1.3 seconds, not 3, as reported here yesterday. ... What the Goose said of Super Bowl XXXV: "Gonna be a dogfight in the back yard." Woof, woof, woof, woof!

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