- Eric Stirgus The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
For Georgia Bulldogs fans, the New Year’s Day national football championship semifinal showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners has become a numbers game.
The first numbers challenge: how to get a ticket?
Georgia has not played at the famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., since 1943, so ticket demand is high. About 20,000 season ticket holders have requested tickets from the University of Georgia, UGA officials say. The university, though, had 10,600 tickets for sale to those fans, said Claude Felton, UGA’s senior associate athletic director. UGA will hand out 500 tickets to students and 1,900 will go to players, their guests and university administrators.
UGA awarded tickets for sale, first, to those on the highest donor priority levels. The university has a point system that helps determine the numbers of tickets fans can get to away and postseason games.
VIDEO: ROSE BOWL TICKETS
Raleigh, N.C. resident Bill King, 32, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees from UGA, said his family was unable to get tickets from the university, so he and two friends bought their tickets through an online ticket broker. They weren’t picky about the location of their seats, as long as they were on the Georgia side. The tickets cost $325 each.
Lilburn resident Gail Black, 76, a UGA season ticket holder since 1981, was lucky enough to get her tickets from UGA. Black, who owns Fly The Coop Travel, has also bought tickets online for friends and clients. She’s part of a group of 18 people attending the game.
The second challenge: how to get to Pasadena?
On Thursday, roundtrip airline tickets from Atlanta to Los Angeles (leaving New Year’s Eve and returning the day after the game) were going for at least $925, but those trips included a layover. Many fans are planning trips to Las Vegas and driving to the game. The cheapest online tickets Thursday were at least $600.
King is planning to visit relatives in the Atlanta area and fly from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to San Diego, where he has a friend stationed at the U.S. Marines base in that area. His round-trip plane ticket cost $650.
Black said she started looking for flights the night after the Dawgs won the SEC Championship. She’s leaving for California on Dec. 29 and returning Jan. 3. One friend was unable to get a flight that accommodated her schedule.
“They were gone,” Black said.
That friend had to sell her ticket to the game.
The third numbers challenge: what to do if Georgia wins?
The national championship game is a little closer for Georgia fans, at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But, it’s a week after the game at the Rose Bowl. Many UGA fans are deciding whether they can afford tickets to both games. If not, which game do they attend?
Said Black: “It will be well worth it to make it. I’m 76 and my husband’s 80. We may never get to see this again.”
“It’s a tough choice,” King said. “How much money do I spend and where do I spend it?”
King decided he wanted to go to California because it’s been so long since the Dawgs played there.
“It’s rare to play in the Rose Bowl and I wanted to get an opportunity to see that,” he said. “This one seemed like once in a lifetime.”
King’s still hoping his family gets tickets to the title game.