That’s the ticket

Morgan State Basketball Coach Todd Bozeman (pictured left) wasn’t enjoying his team’s performance against the Louisville Cardinals Monday at the KFC Yum! Center. His Bears, which are favored to take the MEAC conference this year and are expected to get a spot in the NCAA tournament in March, were trounced 104-74. The way the Bears were playing that night, you wouldn’t want to be in his seat.

But if you’re a Louisville fan, you wanted to be in the seat behind him. That’s my son, a sophomore at UofL, sitting behind Bozeman on the left.

A seat at the top of the Yum! Center for a UofL men’s basketball game runs $38 through Ticketmaster. We’re talking on the third level of the arena, at least 20 rows back. That supposedly is the cheapest seat in the house. But the face value of the ticket my son was holding was $35.

How is this possible?

Our tickets for this game were part of the package of tickets given to the visiting team for their fans. My brother, a former ESPN reporter, is putting together a reality series on the Morgan State basketball team, which will be picked up by a television station in Baltimore, the Bears’ home city. The team gave him a couple of tickets, so for the night, I was a Bears supporter, while my son, quietly, urged on his Cardinals.

He said the experience, though, “was like sitting on the bench for a varsity high school game.”

Teams put aside a number of tickets for supporters, usually family members or people involved with the team’s activities. The face value of those tickets are far less than what is offered to the general public.

The best tickets we’ve ever had at sporting events were those provided by teams. Back in 1997, we were in Pittsburgh when the No. 15-seed Coppin State Eagles upset the No. 2-seed South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament. Our seats were a couple of rows behind the Coppin State bench, since my nephew was one of the Eagles’ forwards.

It isn’t impossible to get those kind of seats if you aren’t with the team. But if you don’t have connections, it requires a huge amount of luck.

The best tickets we ever got for a baseball game was at Fenway Park, when the Boston Red Sox were playing the Texas Rangers in the early 1990s. We got to the stadium late and asked if any tickets were still left. The person at the counter said we were in luck. Some people didn’t arrive for their seats, but if we wanted them, we’d have to pay a little extra: $25 a ticket. We took them and ended up in the second row behind home plate. To top it off, the folks who had the tickets in the row in front of us didn’t show up.

It was like being the umpire behind the batter.