Good news and bad news is trickling in for Carolina Panthers season ticket holders hoping to score a chance to buy Super Bowl tickets. Others, though, are still anxiously waiting.
Airfare and hotel rates are only going up as time passes, and ticket prices in the secondary market are skyrocketing.
The Panthers sent out letters Friday to inform some personal seat license owners that their names had been randomly selected to buy two tickets to the Feb. 7 game in Santa Clara, Calif. They have Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week to claim their tickets in person at the Panthers ticket office, the letter read.
The drawing for PSL owners was based on a formula that favored longtime ticket holders: the number of years as a PSL owner times the number of tickets on the account, said Phil Youtsey, the Panthers’ ticketing director.
So the longer you have been a PSL owner, and the more seats you have on your account, the higher the chance you have of being selected. Newer PSL owners still have a chance to get tickets – that chance is just lower.
PSL owners have around 62,000 seats at Bank of America Stadium, Youtsey said, and the number of tickets the NFL allots to the Panthers is under 10,000. But along with PSL owners, an unspecified number of those tickets also go to players’ and coaches’ friends and families, as well as others affiliated with the club.
For those whose names weren’t drawn given the limited number of tickets, Youtsey said, the Panthers sent out letters Monday informing them.
Youtsey said the Panthers send out the letters via regular mail because winners need to have them in hand to redeem their tickets in person. Additionally, the ticket office doesn’t have “100 percent penetration” with emailing notifications, Youtsey added.
The NFL has nine different price points for Super Bowl tickets, Youtsey said. Prices range from $850-$3,000. But according to a report from TiqIQ.com this week, the average secondary-market ticket price is over $6,000.
Chris Franks of Sumter, S.C., has been a PSL owner for six years. Prices on the secondary market are too expensive, Franks said, so he and his brother hope to find a way to get tickets from the team for a reasonable price.
The Franks brothers bought their plane tickets to California after the Panthers defeated the Seattle Seahawks in their first playoff game, hoping to beat the rush and inevitable price increases.
“We will be staying with family and are anxiously awaiting results of the lottery to find out if we will be able to go to the game or have to watch it on TV in California,” Franks said.
Derek and Shannon McKnight of Charlotte have been PSL owners since 2001 and are also still waiting to hear whether they will get to buy tickets. Derek has never missed a home game, and these days has been bringing along his 11-year-old son, DJ, to home and away games.
If he’s able to buy tickets through the Panthers, Derek said they will definitely go.
“This is why I’m a fan,” McKnight said. “California, it’s on the other side of the country, but this is the game. This is why they play the game.”
Dozens of PSL owners wrote to the Observer this week inquiring about tickets and sharing their stories about attending home games. Several, including Dennis Smith of Mooresville, have been season ticket holders since the Panthers’ inception in 1995.
Smith is also still waiting on his letter, but he already has transportation and accommodations arranged in California with an old college friend. He’s attended every home game but two over the last two decades.
“The thrill of my life – and I’m 68 – was Sunday night sitting in my seat of 20 seasons and watching the Panthers win the Conference Championship,” Smith said. “Now I’m ready for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Super Bowl.”
PSL owners whose names are selected in the drawing can elect to purchase those tickets and sell them on the secondary market, but Youtsey said the Panthers don’t encourage or facilitate those sales like they do for regular season and playoff games at home.
Those whose names are selected to buy tickets can accept and follow the pickup instructions in the letter. Given the 137 straight sellouts at Bank of America Stadium, Youtsey said it’s unlikely any tickets will go unclaimed.
“The excitement that has been building in the Carolinas and the energy the fans have brought in to the stadium has been tremendous,” Youtsey said.
John Norman of Charlotte, a PSL owner since 2003, is among the lucky ones.
His letter stated he can buy two Super Bowl tickets at face value ($900 each in the upper deck.) Norman said he booked plane tickets, lodging and a rental car in December for him and his girlfriend with the hopes the Panthers would be in California Super Bowl weekend.
“Worst case scenario, we’d spend a romantic weekend in San Francisco. Best case scenario, we’d spend a romantic weekend in San Francisco and see our beloved Panthers play. Dream come true,” Norman said.