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Fans sour on Orange

December 2007 Fans Sour On Orange

Fans sour on Orange

Columbia Tribune
December 17, 2007 by Jordan Raubolt

If the demand for tickets is any indicator, Orange Bowl officials might be second-guessing their controversial decision to invite the Kansas Jayhawks instead of the Missouri Tigers.

Tickets to see Missouri play Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl sold out less than 24 hours after they went on sale a few weeks ago, and online scalpers are fetching $150 to $500 per ticket for the Jan. 1 game in Dallas.

Randy Cohen, CEO of TicketCity.com, said the Cotton Bowl has been one of his company’s top five best-selling tickets.

"This is a monster game," said Cohen, whose Austin, Texas-based company buys season tickets from big venues and resells them over the Internet. "Missouri hasn’t been to a bowl of this magnitude in quite some time."

The Orange Bowl, meanwhile, is in much less demand. Tickets to the Jan. 7 game in Miami are still available on KU’s Web site. Online ticket vendors are selling seats for the game between Kansas and Virginia Tech at a fraction of their $125 face value.

Russ Lindmark, owner of Ticket Solutions in Overland Park, Kan., said Orange Bowl ticket sales have been "terrible" and the lack of interest in the game has caused prices to plummet to $29 each.

"The Kansas people just aren’t going," Lindmark said. "I think the Kansas people know that their team isn’t really all that good."

The Orange Bowl’s decision to invite Kansas over Missouri has been widely criticized. The Tigers beat the Jayhawks 36-28 on Nov. 24 in Kansas City to win the Big 12 North Division.

MU’s only losses in an 11-2 season both came from Oklahoma, a team Kansas (11-1) did not play. Missouri ranked sixth in the final Bowl Championship Series standings; Kansas was eighth.

The Orange Bowl is one of five BCS bowls. The BCS bowls are considered the most prestigious and have the largest payouts to participating teams. Rules stipulate that the Big 12 Conference champion play in the Fiesta Bowl and that no more than two teams from one conference can play in BCS bowls. So once the Orange Bowl picked Kansas, Missouri wasn’t eligible to play in a BCS bowl.

Lindmark said Cotton Bowl tickets in the past have not been in high demand but this year’s teams have generated more interest in the game.

"There’s a level of excitement that hasn’t been around Missouri football in a long time," he said.

MU has a corporate sponsorship agreement with Chicago-based SeatExchange.com as its official secondary ticket provider but doesn’t prohibit Internet entrepreneurs from cashing in on the success of the Tigers’ football season.

Cohen said the high face value of the tickets and the long distance for Kansas fans to travel to the game probably has a lot to do with the poor ticket sales for the Orange Bowl. Regardless, he said, "the demand just isn’t there."

In stark contrast, as of this morning there were fewer than 100 tickets for the Cotton Bowl still available at TicketCity.com, ranging in price from $175 to $350, and Cohen said those won’t last long.

Just two weeks ago, the Web site had more than 150 tickets for sale.

"The ticket prices are pretty reasonable," he said. "Those should go pretty quick."

Cohen said the other top-selling games are the Sugar, Music City and Alamo bowls and the BCS Championship Game, which commands a ticket price starting at $1,000.

Paying extra for a hard-to-get ticket to a big event is nothing out of the ordinary, but a new state law in Missouri could change the scalping game.

On Nov. 28, Gov. Matt Blunt signed a bill repealing an 18-year-old ban on selling event tickets above their face value. Lindmark said the new law will help bring down ticket prices for events in the state.

"When it’s illegal in a market, that market still exists, it’s just a black market," he said.


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