Finding a moderately priced hotel room in Miami during the winter is never easy, but securing one over Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 2-5) is a totally different ballgame, regardless of availability. Last weekend, for instance, the rate for a double room at the Miami Airport Holiday Inn was $190. For the night before the Super Bowl, that room goes for $430. At the already pricey Delano, a city-view deluxe room that would have cost $775 on Jan. 13 is more than twice that amount, $1,625, on Feb. 4 (and it's booked solid). Even the ultra-expensive Setai is requiring guests to stay a minimum of seven nights during Super Bowl week, at $950 per night for a double room.
Robert Tuchman, president of TSE Sports & Entertainment (tseworld.com), said his company was selling four-night Super Bowl packages with upper-level game tickets, but without airfare. For example, $5,850 per person gets a double room at the Westin in Fort Lauderdale, while $7,350 per person puts you in a penthouse suite at the Albion South Beach.
The actual ticket prices are $600 and $700. Most tickets are technically available through the 30 NFL teams, but are essentially sold out. Brokers charge far more for the tickets.
"When you couple the Super Bowl with a great location like Miami, hotels can charge five times their normal price," Tuchman said, adding that last year's location, Detroit (featuring the Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers), was a bit of a bust. "We only sent around 300 people," he said. "This year, we already have a thousand."
His packages include an autographed football, a celebrity golf tournament and a Sunday morning chat with a former NFL player or coach.
Loyal NFL team followers might prefer fan packages available from Sports Traveler (sportstraveler.net), a Chicago-based company. It is $6,300 to $7,500, including three or four nights' accommodation, reserved game tickets and airfare from your championship team's city. A required deposit of $200 to $500 is refunded if your team doesn't make the big game. But, as Tuchman said, "the Super Bowl has become such a spectacle, most people don't even come anymore just for the game."
NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
MUSEUMS: Stiller movie sparks ticket sales
Attendance at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan soared higher than a T-rex skeleton over the holidays - thanks in large part to the popularity of the movie Night at the Museum. Starring Ben Stiller as a security guard who discovers that the museum's exhibits come alive at night, the film has spurred ticket sales. "Between the excitement and success of the movie, the surging tourism in New York and our new exhibits, attendance is up 20 percent during the holidays," says museum president Ellen Futter. In addition, a new monthly event, in which children and their parents tour the museum by flashlight after hours and spend the night in sleeping bags, is sold out through June.
KENTUCKY: Derby fans can get behind scenes
For the first time in 133 years of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is offering "experience packages." The 22 packages include Kentucky Derby and Oaks tickets in some of the track's most exclusive areas, and they provide amenities that can't normally be obtained by the public. Among them: tickets to the annual Barnstable Brown Party on Derby eve, a tour of the Churchill Downs stable area and tickets to the invitation-only winners' party after the Derby on May 5. The packages come in three experience levels: win, place and show, from $4,000-$25,000. Call 502-636-4814 or go to kentuckyderby.com.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS
WEST VIRGINIA: 100 years of Fenton Art Glass
One hundred years ago, Fenton Art Glass made its first piece of handmade glass at its new factory in Williamstown, W.Va. It is thought to have been a crystal cream pitcher, featuring a water lily and cattail pattern. Today the company is an internationally known business that employs 500 workers, and a regional tourist attraction visited by nearly 40,000 people annually. Plans for a celebration of its 100th anniversary Aug. 3-5 include demonstrations, custom decorating by Fenton artists and tours. Fenton is well known for its carnival glass, a look that marries iridescence with a patterned surface, and its hobnail milk glass, an opaque white, bubble-covered product that helped the company survive the Depression.
You Can't Get There From Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World