Its rivals are Masters, Super Bowl

ACC tournament on par with elite pair in public's demand to be on hand

March 09, 2005|By Ed Waldman | Ed Waldman,SUN STAFF

The toughest ticket in sports?

The Atlantic Coast Conference hasn't had a public sale of tickets for its men's basketball tournament since 1966.

The Masters tournament, held every April at Augusta National Golf Club, has been sold out since 1972. The waiting list for tickets is closed, too.

The Super Bowl is a scalper's delight, especially in a year like this, when two East Coast teams met in a game that was played in Jacksonville, Fla.

Bob Leffler, the Baltimore-based advertising executive, represents NFL teams, college athletic programs and the Maryland Jockey Club, among other clients. Leffler said the Super Bowl is the toughest ticket in sports.

"It's a corporate ticket," he said. "It's strictly an influence ticket."

Each year, the NFL holds a public lottery to distribute 1,000 tickets to the Super Bowl. The rest of the tickets go to the teams and to the league's sponsors.

Leffler rates the Masters as "almost a tie" with the Super Bowl.

The Masters does sell tickets to practice rounds, but you're too late if you're thinking of going to Augusta next month. Mark your calendar: the deadline for applications to purchase tickets for 2006 practice rounds is July 15.

Leffler rated the ACC tournament as the third-toughest ticket.

"Because of the close proximity of the schools; the Carolina schools, especially," he said. "I don't know of any other tournament that has the mania of the ACC tournament."

Marc Matthews, past president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, said he wouldn't go as far as saying that the Super Bowl was a tougher ticket than the ACC tournament.

"You're comparing a football stadium to a basketball arena," he said. "There are 80,000 seats for a Super Bowl and there are 18,000 [actually, 20,000-plus] seats in the MCI Center. They are two entirely different things."

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