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Pasadena Eyes Ways to Sidestep Ticket Woes

February 05, 1987|ASHLEY DUNN | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — Six of the seven members of the Board of Directors say they want to take themselves out of the Super Bowl ticket distribution business, which they say brought them nothing but complaints and bad publicity this year.

The six directors said this week that the tradition that allowed each of them to buy and sell 100 Super Bowl tickets at face value resulted in too much aggravation and too much controversy over ticket scalping.

"The so-called privilege of buying 100 tickets is less a privilege than a burden and a hassle," said Director Rick Cole. "I have no more stomach for any more controversy on this issue."

Several board members suggested alternatives in case the city wins its bid to serve as host for the Super Bowl in 1991, including allowing top students or local charities to buy the block of tickets Pasadena has traditionally received.

Cole also urged the board to change a similar practice involving Rose Bowl tickets, saying city officials have no business being "middlemen" for tickets to any event.

But the board took no action on the issue, saying it would wait until the city finds out if it will play host to the 1991 Super Bowl.

'Four Years to Decide'

"If we get the game, we have four years to decide what we are going to do with those tickets," Director Jo Heckman said. "But we ought not to do it off the top of our heads."

Loretta Thompson-Glickman was the only director who supported continuing the ticket distribution, saying that no matter how tickets are allocated, some could end up of in the hands of ticket brokers, who this year sold the $75 tickets at prices ranging from $500 to $1,500.

"I do not have a problem with the way the tickets are handled," she said. "If each individual director has a problem, they don't have to take them."

But Cole said that refusing to accept the tickets was a cop-out that would not help residents get tickets to a game in their own backyards nor solve the problem of more bad publicity for the city in the future.

"I don't think it's unfair that some residents get to go," he said. "But the whole process should be changed so it doesn't bring criticism on the city."

The ticket distribution issue may be a moot point if the city fails in its bid to host the 1991 Super Bowl. It will submit its initial bid package to the National Football League today and hopes to get a contract nearly identical to this year's, which brought in $820,000 for the city and an estimated $1.57 million for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses, according to a report completed last week. Most of the city's revenue, about $527,000, came from food and souvenir sales.

Allowed to Buy 1,200

A provision in that contract allowed the city to buy a total of 1,200 tickets at their $75 face value. Of the 1,200, the seven city directors and City Manager Donald McIntyre each got 100. The Tournament of Roses Assn. was allowed to buy 50 and the remaining 350 went to city department heads, who distributed them to employees and managers, mainly through drawings.

The recipients were allowed to resell the tickets to whomever they pleased, including friends, business associates and political supporters.

For example, Cole sold his share to residents of his district on a first-come, first-served basis. Director Jess Hughston said he sold his tickets to friends and residents who had worked on his reelection campaign. Thompson-Glickman said she sold some of hers to clients of the Los Angeles municipal bond underwriting firm where she works, Grigsby, Brandford & Co. Inc.

The city gave the NFL a written promise that no one would sell the tickets for more than their face value and advised anyone who got the tickets not to re-sell them for more money.

But Cole and Heckman later confirmed reports that at least eight tickets they had sold were re-sold without their knowledge for several times more than their face value.

Other directors acknowledged that it would be difficult to stop scalping because scalping is legal in California except at the site of the event.

Other Problems Arise

Director William Cathey said that in addition to scalping problems, the tickets were a nuisance because of the flood of requests from all over the country, abuse from people who got bad seats, and complaints that it was improper for board members to have control over 100 Super Bowl tickets.

The practice of reserving a large number of Super Bowl and Rose Bowl tickets for city officials has been a tradition for years and has been repeatedly attacked in media reports, Mayor John Crowley said.

The practice started decades ago with the Rose Bowl, and was later extended to the Super Bowl contracts in 1977, 1980, 1983 and 1987.

Jim Steeg, the director of special events for the NFL, said Pasadena is the only host city to get a large number of tickets directly from the NFL.

At the board meeting Monday, Cole suggested that in the future, the city should distribute the tickets through a citywide lottery and keep a record of sales.

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