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Yeah, That's the Ticket

For the public, getting into the game of the year requires a lot of cash or a well-placed connection

December 07, 2005|Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writer

If it feels as if scoring a Rose Bowl ticket at face value requires knowing some secret password, winning a lottery, giving $2,500 to $25,000 a year to USC, dating a former Rose Queen or being the kin or closest friend of one of the 935 members of the Tournament of Roses

Well, yeah.

The 1,000 tickets available to the public through Ticketmaster went on sale Tuesday at 8 a.m., and if you got nothing but a busy signal on the phone line or a "There were no tickets available that matched your request" message online -- even though you were asking for two tickets in any location at 8:06 a.m. -- join the crowd.

Ticketmaster spokeswoman Bonnie Poindexter said there was "tremendous consumer demand," but there were no system glitches during a sale a Rose Bowl official said was completed within minutes.

"The sale went very well," Poindexter said.

For somebody.

To be in the Rose Bowl as USC goes for a third consecutive national championship, against Texas on Jan. 4, it will help to be in the know or in the dough.

Brokers and online sources were offering the $175 face-value tickets for about $1,000 to well over $4,000 Tuesday. A spokesman for RazorGator.com said the average price for tickets already sold was about $885. At StubHub.com, that figure was $1,117.

By the way, it's too late for that hush-hush password: That was for a Ticketmaster presale in October of 1,000 of the tickets returned by the Pacific 10 and Big Ten conferences, with a required special code that was distributed to member schools.

The Rose Bowl game is what the Tournament of Roses calls "a contractual sellout," meaning virtually all of the tickets available for sale for the approximately 92,000-seat stadium were divvied up long ago.

In years when the Rose Bowl plays host to the bowl championship series title game, each team gets 22,000 tickets. USC procured an extra 2,000 from the Pac-10's allotment before the season began, hoping the Trojans would reach the title game.

That still means USC has only 24,000 Rose Bowl tickets -- and 62,000 season-ticket holders, including 12,000 students.

"Demand obviously exceeds supply. We could use twice as many," said Steve Lopes, the USC senior associate athletic director who oversees the ticket operation.

Members of USC's Scholarship Club -- donors who contribute $25,000 or more a year -- were allowed to purchase up to eight Rose Bowl tickets, Lopes said.

Those in the Committee, at $7,500 a year, had the right to buy four, and Cardinal and Gold members, who contribute at least $2,500, could purchase two.

USC's remaining tickets were distributed by lottery to other season-ticket holders and students, but plenty lost out.

Texas likewise was unable to fill all the orders from season-ticket holders from its allotment of 22,000.

"We had 34,000 tickets requested," said Mark Harrison, assistant athletic director for ticket operations. "I don't anticipate getting through all our donors."

Texas limited season-ticket holders to the same number of Rose Bowl requests as they have season tickets, with a maximum of four.

Students who are season-ticket holders get 10% of the tickets.

"They're on a priority system too," Harrison said. "Basically, seniors get first priority."

A large portion of the approximately 89,000 tickets sold to the Rose Bowl game stay inside the family, so to speak.

Mitch Dorger, chief executive of the Tournament of Roses, said about 23,300 tickets will be used by the organization, its members and sponsors.

The 935-member volunteers who help put on the game get two free tickets and may purchase additional tickets according to seniority.

"It depends on whether you're the president or a first-year member," Dorger said. "A first-year member might get one ticket, and someone with 30 years might get 30 tickets."

Others entitled to tickets include former grand marshals of the Rose Parade, past Rose Queens and their courts and the families of the current queen and princesses, as well as the widows of former Tournament of Roses presidents, Dorger said.

Two significant allotments that fluctuated this year were those to the Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences, whose champions met in the Rose Bowl before the introduction of the BCS system.

Each conference was to receive 9,000 tickets, but the Big Ten -- geographically remote and without an early favorite to reach the game -- returned 8,000 tickets before the season.

The Pac-10 returned nearly 3,000, distributing the remaining 6,000 to USC (2,000), UCLA (1,600), Oregon (350), the conference office (300) and the seven other schools, each of which received 250.

Schools that responded to a Times inquiry -- including UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State and Washington State -- said no tickets would be sold to the public but instead to such people as donors, administrators, faculty and staff.

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