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NFL in Canada: Jets at Bills

4 December 2009 No Comment

The Buffalo Bills are playing one game per season for five years at Rogers Centre. Since they are playing a consistent game I added Rogers Centre as an NFL stadium I wanted to visit. I have already attended a Toronto Blue Jays (1993) and Toronto Raptors (1996-97) game at Rogers Centre when the stadium was called SkyDome.

Booking Flights
The wife and I had just spent Thanksgiving in central Florida and decided to stay a few days after the long weekend. With that I flew directly from Orlando to Buffalo on Southwest Airlines and planned to fly from Buffalo to Chicago on Friday afternoon after the game. I thought about flying directly to Toronto since I would avoid the two drive from Buffalo to Toronto but the flights were more expensive to fly directly to Toronto even though I needed to rent a car.

Pre Game Dining
By the time I checked into my hostel and started looking for a place to eat dinner it was 5 pm. There were dozens of restaurants and bars to choose from a few blocks north of Rogers Centre. I wanted to eat at Wayne Gretzky’s Restaurant but it was incredibly crowded. Instead I ate at Fox and Fiddle (located at 106 John Street) since they had a Thursday night dinner special and it was close to where I was staying.

After dinner I walked around Rogers Centre (about 0.5 miles from the restaurant) to check out the secondary ticket market and see if there were any bars closer to the stadium.

The closest restaurant I found to Rogers Centre was St. Louis Bar and Grill (located at 313 Bremner Blvd.). At the restaurant I met two Jets fans from New York City who drove to Toronto for the game.

Obtaining Tickets
One of the guys I met at St. Louis Bar and Grill had the same ticket strategy as me. He wanted to buy a cheap ticket right before the game started – his goal was to pay $50 each for lower level tickets. Lower level seats had a face value of $275. However, his logic was flawed.

1) We needed to buy four tickets if we were to sit together. If an individual scalper has a dozen or two tickets then getting four together for a low price is not difficult. Although there were a lot of scalpers, most did not have more than six tickets or so – meaning they would be more difficult to negotiate with.
2) There were a lot of other fans who wanted to buy tickets on the secondary market rather than pay $110 or $165 for upper deck seats from the box office – meaning tickets on the secondary market were more expensive and the scalpers would hold out to get the highest price they could.

Remember that every game is different for the secondary ticket market even at the same stadium. Do not expect to pay $20 for an NFL game just because you traditionally have in the past.

Last night most scalpers wanted $200 for their lower level seats (face value $275). That was more than any of us were willing to pay. They all upped their budget to $100 for lower level seats but I was becoming impatient with the strategy. At least my theory still holds true that you can save money by buying tickets on the secondary market rather than at the box office. You just not save as much money as you would like.

Finally, I decided to go alone as I found a guy who had a VIP seat – $495 face value. I was not sure where the VIP section was but the ticket did have a special entrance. I was hoping it was a luxury box. I offered him $100 for the ticket but he declined. The scalper next to me offered him $150 which did not work well for my negotiation. We finally settled on $130 for the ticket (in which I paid him $110 Canadian and $20 US since I did not take much money out of the ATM since I never thought I would pay that much for a ticket).

My Seat
My seat was not in a luxury box but it was a great seat. Row 25 at the 40 yard line in the VIP section. I thought VIP might get me something, but it was just a good seat in a “special area.” Special area defined as we had our own concession stand to buy food and drinks.

However, my ticket drama did not stop there. When I showed up the guys who I sat with asked me how I got the ticket. They had given the ticket to a contact of theirs (“Dave”) who is the same guy I bought it from. Once I told them I bought the ticket they told me the story of why they gave “Dave” the ticket and were angry that he ended up selling it. Note here: If somebody you know gives you a ticket do not sell it. If you cannot use it, tell your contact you cannot use the ticket and give it back. If worse comes to worse, give the ticket away – do not sell it. I doubt “Dave” will be receiving any tickets from these guys in the future.

The Game
The game was not as exciting as buying my ticket experience as the Jets defeated the Bills 19-13. Each team scored one touchdown and punted seven times.

Post Game
After the game I walked back to my hostel and stopped at Adelaide Street Pub since it was one block away from where I was staying.

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