Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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I'm a big fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, but there's no way I'm paying $2,800 for bad seats to a short concert.
In case you hadn't heard, Petty, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is playing a concert in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 3. It's kind of a weird deal. The promoters have hired a couple of NFL football teams from Boston and New York to open (and close) for The Heartbreakers.
So, they're going to play a couple of quarters of exhibition football interrupted by countless TV commercial breaks before and after the concert. The strangest part of all is that ticket prices are out of this world. Internet reports say ticket resellers are charging $2,800 for seats high in the end zone and as much as eight grand for seats between the 30-yard lines. And that doesn't even include parking and beers.
If you and a friend each bought $8,000 tickets for the Super Bowl next week, the combined cost would be more than the payout for players on the winning team in Super Bowl I. The players for the Green Bay Packers, who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, on Jan. 15, 1967, each received $15,000 for becoming world champions. Heck, you could have purchased a 30-second television commercial in the midst of Super bowl I for $42,000. There is another Internet report this week that a New York Giants fan living in Denver paid more than that for a deluxe package to this year's Super Bowl.
One of Petty's best-known lyrics is, "You don't, have, to live like a refugee."
Well, I'm here to tell you that if I paid $16,000 for two game tickets, plus thousands more for inflated airline tickets and hotel rooms, I would be a refugee.
How much would you pay for tickets to Super Bowl XLII in Arizona next week? You could throw a pretty swell Super Bowl party at home for $2,800. And for $8,000 you could purchase one monster flat-panel screen.
Steamboat Springs resident Rod Hanna has been to almost more Super Bowls than he can recall. But he'll never forget Super Bowl I, when he sold an extra ticket outside the Los Angeles Coliseum for $5.
No, that's not a typo. Hanna walked outside the stadium just before game time and unloaded a ticket with a face value of $15 for one portrait of Abe Lincoln.
Here's the deal. Hanna has been to six Super Bowls without buying a ticket, and he didn't climb over the fence.
Before I explain, allow me to correct myself. Super Bowl I was never played. When the Chiefs and Packers got together in L.A. back in '67, the contest was known as the first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game. It was before the National Football League and the upstart American Football League merged and formed two conferences.
The Packers were the equivalent of today's New England Patriots, with multiple titles under their belts. The Chiefs represented a league that was battling for credibility. The American public was only mildly interested and the big showdown would not become known as the Super Bowl until later.
Hanna was working for legendary sports photographer Rich Clarkson at the Topeka Capital Journal, a newspaper that followed the Chiefs faithfully. Clarkson also was shooting color film for Sports Illustrated. He took Hanna along to shoot black and white film as a backup. Clarkson's color film would have to be flown to Chicago by private jet in order to meet the magazine's tight weekly deadline. If for some reason, the plane was delayed, SI had rights to Hanna's film. It was to be developed in Pasadena and wired to the magazine.
As it turned out, the Lear jet made it to Chicago on time and Hanna missed an historic opportunity through no fault of his own. Ultimately, Sports Illustrated used one of his images the following week in its post-game analysis.
Hanna went on to photograph Super Bowl IV, when the Chiefs broke through and defeated the Minnesota Vikings. He covered four more Super Bowls as the official photographer of the Denver Broncos.
However, it may have been his perceptions of the psyche of the Kansas City Chiefs players in those two championship games that provide the most insight into Super Bowl XLII.
Hanna recalled that at the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game, he set up to photograph the Kansas City players as they came out of the tunnel. He can still recall the fear that was evident on the faces of the players and in their body language.
It was a different story three years later.
"I set up outside the tunnel again and when the Chiefs came out they were sauntering and talking with the fans," Hanna recalled.
It was that Chiefs team that had learned from experience and the Vikings players were the ones who were wide-eyed with fear.
When the Patriots emerge from the tunnel in Glendale on Feb. 3, they will be the confident veterans. And when the game is over, the Patriots will be monarchs of the football world.
If Petty and the Heartbreakers were granted an encore, they'd sing:
"It's good to be king and have your own way
Get a feeling of peace at the end of the day
And when your bulldog barks and your canary sings
You're out there with winners, yeah, it's good to be king"
Don't fly to Phoenix next week. Save your money. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are tentatively scheduled to play in Denver on July 19.
Tickets might prove dear, but they won't cost $2,800.