"The secondary market might be a little soft, but I think everyone who wanted tickets got them," said Pat Richter, Wisconsin's athletic director.
That appears to be true of fans of the Stanford Cardinal, which will make its first Rose Bowl appearance since 1972. The university subsidized tickets for students, cutting the cost to $55, and its official Rose Bowl tour package is sold out.
"It started out where people were rushing to buy tickets, and we still have some people looking for tickets and trying to get there," said Stanford Associate Athletic Director Darrin Nelson. "But I think demand has definitely died down. Any time you make a purchase, you do it on impulse. . . .
"I think demand is low for a couple of reasons. Wisconsin has been there a few times recently, and not a lot of people expect us to be competitive. We're kind of a surprise."
John Schultz, president of Front Row Center Ticket Service in Los Angeles, agreed that the potential for a boring game has lowered the appeal. That the Rose Bowl won't determine the national champion--it will be decided Jan. 4 in the Sugar Bowl between Virginia Tech and Florida State--may also be reducing fan interest.
But Schultz sees Y2K and costs as perhaps the overriding causes of the lukewarm interest in the game and surrounding festivities.
"Even if people are thinking of coming out, they're finding hotels are setting a five-night minimum," he said. "That's happened in Las Vegas, it's true of the Eagles 1/8New Year's Eve concert at the Staples Center 3/8. I think a lot of places overestimated the amount people would be willing to pay and overestimated the demand.
"It's always a popular game, and they always have a full crowd and it's a beautiful day. From a popularity standpoint, that will never change. But every day, you read the paper and see news reports that airports are heightening security in case of Y2K problems, and people are saying, 'Why travel and take the risks?' I know people who bought Eagles tickets months ago and are now looking to sell them. Even if they wanted to go and thought about staying in a hotel overnight, they're finding hotels are setting three-night stays, and who wants to stay in downtown L.A. for three nights?"
Even some mid-level hotels on East Colorado Boulevard near the parade route are charging $300 for the night.
A few feet away, said Johnson of Night on the Town, "I can get the best seat in the house for the parade for a very reasonable price."
Should the worst happen and Y2K problems actually arise, Pasadena may be a good place to be.
"We've got our own power station," said Robert Person, assistant to the city manager. "And we've carefully checked every city computer system and we've got more cops per square mile than anyone."
* ROSE BOWL, PARADE MUSEUM
A five-day exhibit on the history of the Tournament of Roses opens today. B1