Nation/World

All Dressed Up … But Fans Won’t Go To L.A. Without Tickets

Unless you’re a longtime dues-paying member of the Cougar faithful, you can’t count on going to heaven.

Season ticket holders and athletic boosters are getting first crack at Washington State University’s 35,284 seats for the first WSU Rose Bowl game in 67 years. Chances are slim that many seats will be left over for the thousands of new Cougar fans who joined the ranks this weekend and swamped the 1-800-GO-COUGS phone lines Monday.

“You know that saying, ‘Once a Cougar, always a Cougar,”’ Athletic Director Rick Dickson said. “Maybe people should pay heed to that. I guess maybe those Joes off the street were just betting it (a WSU Rose Bowl) wouldn’t happen. For 67 years they were right. But you know what? They gambled and they lost on this one.”

Under the athletic department’s “dollar-for-dollar” point system, the $75 tickets will be doled out first to the 7,000 general season ticket holders and the 3,000 people who paid $100 or more to join the Cougar Club but didn’t buy season tickets. Depending on the size of their past ticket purchases and contributions, these members of the “Cougar family” could be allocated as many as 10 or 12 tickets each, said Dickson.

Another 9,000 ticket vouchers will go on sale at 9 a.m. Dec. 2 to students who bought fall or year-round sports passes. The students then can exchange their vouchers for tickets at the Rose Bowl will-call window after showing their university identification.

Dec. 5 is the last day for season ticket holders to request Rose Bowl tickets. After that, new contributors to the athletic program will be in line for whatever tickets remain.

“It gives you a chance,” Dickson said. “It gives you no guarantee.”

He estimated there may be 1,000 tickets left by then.

That will be small consolation to the thousands of Cougar fans who deluged all Cougar-related phone lines in search of tickets Monday.

By mid-afternoon, some 30,000 calls had been attempted through the 1-800-GO-COUGS number to Spokane-based operators handling ticket requests, Dickson said.

By 5 p.m., nearly 100,000 callers attempted to use the number to reach the official WSU Rose Bowl tour office and athletic apparel offices, according to WSU Voice and Data Services. No figures were available for how many got through.

WSU’s local phone lines handled more than 35,000 calls, even though almost all the students were gone for the Thanksgiving break. In a typical day, with 16,000 students around, the school handles only 23,000 calls.

“Anything with a WSU extension in front of it was beseiged by calls,” Dickson said.

Paul Riba of Spokane started calling at 7:30 a.m. and used his home phone, his cell phone and his work phone, all with no luck. Finally, he drove down to Pullman just to put in a request for tickets.

“I’m disappointed to learn that there isn’t any action as far as tickets are concerned,” he said.

Laura Kerr, a WSU graduate student, waited in line at the Cougar Depot from 6 to 9 a.m., was told to go home, then tried calling.

“So I’ve been on the phone all morning pressing redial,” she said.

She then went back to the Cougar Depot and waited in line for half an hour so she could fill out a request form. Figuring every little bit helps, she wrote on the form that her father, a faculty member, donated to the volleyball program.

Ticket officials said eligible buyers will hear in three business days how many tickets they can get, with the tickets coming later.

Of course, there are other ways of getting tickets. They’re either long shots or expensive.

The Tournament of Roses, sponsor of the Rose Bowl, will start selling 1,000 tickets at 5 p.m. PST on Dec. 8 through TicketMaster at (213) 480-3232 or (714) 740-2000.

Local travel agents are selling packages that start at more than $1,300 and include three nights lodging, airfare and end zone tickets.

Ticket brokers, some of whom can be found on the World Wide Web, are selling seats for $350. This can be both expensive and a long shot, as 1,000 Wisconsin fans learned when brokers failed to come through with tickets for the 1994 Rose Bowl.

Other PAC-10 schools were given a total of 4,250 tickets but they were for the most part spoken for in August by boosters and alumni.

“I don’t know for sure about this game,” said Dave Williford, sports information director for the University of Oregon, “but in the 12 years I’ve been here, I’ve never known one to be available.”

Even with tickets in hand, a fan stands to have a tough time traveling. A Spokane-to-Los Angeles airline ticket that cost $225 last week now costs about $650.

It’s not that the airlines are price gouging. With Cougar mania and the traditional holiday rush, all the cheap seats are gone.

Fans may be able to get to Pasadena by looking for charters through travel agents or catching flights from Seattle and Portland, said Greg Witter, a spokesman for Alaska Airlines.

“It’s not a case where the airlines are saying, ‘Well, the Cougars are going to the Rose Bowl, we can jack up the fares on all these tickets,”’ he said.

It may not seem that way from the stands, though.

With less than two minutes to play in Saturday’s Apple Cup, Witter, a 1984 WSU graduate, used a cell phone to order a $338 ticket from his seat in Husky Stadium. As he hung up, he saw three or four other people doing the same thing.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Color Photos

MEMO: These 3 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. PAC-10 HONORS FOR PRICE, LEAF The Pac-10 names Ryan Leaf offensive player of the year and Mike Price coach of the year on Monday. See Sports, Page C1.

2. WHERE ARE THE TICKETS? There are 96,576 tickets available for the Rose Bowl, with Washington State receiving 35,284 of those. Here’s how the tickets are distributed.

PAC-10……………….39,966 Washington State………35,284 Other Pac-10 schools*…..4,250 Conference officials……..432

BIG TEN………………29,899 Michigan……………..27,499 Other Big Ten schools…..2,000 Conference officials……..400

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES……26,711 Tournament use………..15,707 Other………………..11,004

*Each school receives 250 except USC and UCLA receive 1,250 SOURCE: Washington State Staff graphic

3. GETTING THERE There is no easy way to get a $75 ticket to the Rose Bowl. With that in mind, here are a few tips as you go for the roses. If you are a Washington State University Cougar Club member or season ticket holder, be patient and keep trying 1-800-GO-COUGS. You have until Dec. 5 to place your ticket order. If you are a WSU student with a sports pass, buy your one alloted ticket voucher at the Beasley Coliseum starting at 9 a.m. next Tuesday. You can then pick up a ticket at the Rose Bowl. If you are none of the above, punt. Call Cougar Club members, season ticket holders, students and friends in Los Angeles. Or call a travel agent. Packages were starting at $1,329 and included airfare, an end zone seat, three nights in a hotel and a grandstand seat at the Tournament of Roses Parade. You can try your luck with a ticket broker by searching the World Wide Web. Tickets from one broker were going for $350 each Monday. Ask what assurance you have that the broker will deliver. If you have dibs on a ticket but haven’t booked a flight, make reservations soon. Look at flying from Portland or Seattle. Consider returning a day or two later. Check with a travel agent for a charter. -Eric Sorensen

These 3 sidebars appeared with the story:

1. PAC-10 HONORS FOR PRICE, LEAF The Pac-10 names Ryan Leaf offensive player of the year and Mike Price coach of the year on Monday. See Sports, Page C1.

2. WHERE ARE THE TICKETS? There are 96,576 tickets available for the Rose Bowl, with Washington State receiving 35,284 of those. Here’s how the tickets are distributed.

PAC-10……………….39,966 Washington State………35,284 Other Pac-10 schools*…..4,250 Conference officials……..432

BIG TEN………………29,899 Michigan……………..27,499 Other Big Ten schools…..2,000 Conference officials……..400

TOURNAMENT OF ROSES……26,711 Tournament use………..15,707 Other………………..11,004

*Each school receives 250 except USC and UCLA receive 1,250 SOURCE: Washington State Staff graphic

3. GETTING THERE There is no easy way to get a $75 ticket to the Rose Bowl. With that in mind, here are a few tips as you go for the roses. If you are a Washington State University Cougar Club member or season ticket holder, be patient and keep trying 1-800-GO-COUGS. You have until Dec. 5 to place your ticket order. If you are a WSU student with a sports pass, buy your one alloted ticket voucher at the Beasley Coliseum starting at 9 a.m. next Tuesday. You can then pick up a ticket at the Rose Bowl. If you are none of the above, punt. Call Cougar Club members, season ticket holders, students and friends in Los Angeles. Or call a travel agent. Packages were starting at $1,329 and included airfare, an end zone seat, three nights in a hotel and a grandstand seat at the Tournament of Roses Parade. You can try your luck with a ticket broker by searching the World Wide Web. Tickets from one broker were going for $350 each Monday. Ask what assurance you have that the broker will deliver. If you have dibs on a ticket but haven’t booked a flight, make reservations soon. Look at flying from Portland or Seattle. Consider returning a day or two later. Check with a travel agent for a charter. -Eric Sorensen



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