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NHL in the Morning: Red Wings at Blackhawks

7 March 2010 No Comment

It was a relatively warm Sunday in Chicago and the Chicago Blackhawks were playing in their earliest game I can ever remember – the puck dropped at 11:30 am. 2.5 hours earlier than their usual 2:00 pm March Sunday afternoon start time.

The early start time must have affected the goalies as the Red Wings gave up four goals and the Blackhawks gave up five goals in the second period alone. Crostobal Huet, who started the game, was replaced by Antti Niemi, after the Red Wings scored their fourth goal within a six minute time span halfway through the second period. The five goal second period upstaged Blackhawks’ Andrew Ladd’s hat trick as the Red Wings won 5-4.

Obtaining Tickets
First, I followed my advice and checked in at the United Center box office after parking. When I attended the Red Wings at Blackhawks game on December 20, 2009, they had $25 SRO tickets available so I thought that might be a possibility today. When I asked, the box office employee laughed when I asked if SRO was available.

I expected them to be sold out, so I went to step #2 in buying tickets to a sold out game at the United Center – walk around the arena one time.

No luck on my walk, so it was time for step #3. Walk down Madison St. to Billy Goat Tavern on the corner of Ashland Ave. and Madison St. Billy Goat Tavern is a great place to try to buy tickets since there are about a dozen scalpers outside the restaurant and will normally drop their prices against each other.

Rather than negotiate with them too early, I ordered a breakfast sandwich at the restaurant. I walked outside shortly after 11:00 am and initially talk to a broker I recognize outside of Wrigley Field – he offered me a SRO ticket for $80 each. His initial offer was too much, so I countered by saying I would pay $25. Needless to say we did not move forward in negotiations.

Next, I saw Broker Ben – who I know fairly well. I rarely buy tickets from him because we cannot agree on a price. As was the case this time – Ben wanted $150 for his club level single (face value was $50 because it was a season ticket) and $100 for his upper level seats in which he was willing to split up his four-pack.

Instead, I walked back towards the United Center where I passed a few scalpers along the few block walk, but knew I would probably find cheaper tickets from a fan near gates 2, 3 or 4.

I did. At first, I found a single ticket near the main United Center box office (near gate 4). The fan wanted face value of $115 but only talked to me because the first guy hesitated. The first guy ended up buying the ticket.

Second, I found a guy with three tickets near gate 2. He wanted $150 each – he was also negotiating with a couple. I waited to give him an offer until the couple left, since I wanted to buy my seat for close to face value ($95 – advanced sale single game price). The couple walked away from the deal. Realizing I only had $99 in my wallet, I told the guy I could only pay $95 since I did not have any more money. He accepted the offer after I convinced him he would not sell the single or three-pack this close to game time.

Note: The couple ended up paying $120 each. I found out once they sat down next to me inside the United Center.

Club Level
I sat in the club level of the United Center for the first time since the Blackhawks playoff game on April 18, 2009. I definitely recommend sitting in the club level if you have the opportunity. You should be able to get a good deal since the face value on the tickets is already high. Most people spending $100 per ticket probably want to sit on the first level but the club level is much nicer.

For the first time, I went to the Chicago Stadium Club during the intermissions – a bar in the club level near where I was sitting.

Parking Tip at United Center
Once again I parked for free on Washington Blvd. – two blocks north of the United Center. For some reason, nobody else was parked there. It usually fills up when I am arriving.

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