By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
I thought that the weather served as foreshadowing for a positive result on Super Bowl Sunday. As my wife and I landed in Phoenix from our flight from Seattle, I saw a steady downpour of rain from the window of our airplane on Friday afternoon.
Felt like home.
Of course, the weather was not the only thing that made us feel like home. There were thousands of fans donning the Seattle Seahawk colors as the city’s beloved football team made its second Super Bowl in as many years. They would be facing the New England Patriots who were embroiled in some controversy as the team had been accused of deflating its footballs in its previous game against the Indianapolis Colts.
For most that missed out on last year’s win at the Super Bowl in New York, it felt like everyone did not want to lose out on the opportunity to celebrate another World Championship. First, Phoenix is much closer and a direct flight was much easier for those fans coming from Seattle. Second, many Seahawks have relatives, friends, or second residences in the Phoenix area. Of course, many Seahawks fans probably reacquainted themselves with relatives and friends living in Arizona to see if they could find lodging for Super Bowl weekend. Finally, the prospect of sunny weather was another draw for many to head south. But uncharacteristic rain prevailed Friday and Saturday of Super Bowl weekend.
With the Super Bowl pitting the Seahawks, the number 1 seed in the National Football Conference against the Patriots, as well as the number 1 seed in the American Football Conference, tickets were at a premium. We were actually offered a considerable amount for our tickets by an affable fellow sitting next to us on the plane. He had decided to fly down to Phoenix with the hopes of scoring tickets. Of course, many others had that idea. On Friday, the price just to get into University of Phoenix Stadium, the venue where the Super Bowl was held, was almost $9,000 per ticket.
That’s right, almost $9,000 per ticket. And many in Phoenix were willing to pay it. According to ESPN, Super Bowl 49 had the most expensive tickets ever for the event. The average price of a ticket sold on the secondary market ranged between $4,131 and $4,600. Most fans had to go through ticket brokers to purchase seats as most tickets are unavailable to the general public. If you knew someone working for the NFL or an NFL team, you might have been able to score a deal. The only other alternative for fans wanting to attend the game was to win some sort of contest to win tickets. Otherwise, you would have to watch on television like most of the world.
If you would like to know, we set a “have to sell” number in our minds just in case we were offered that amount for tickets. We were never offered that number.
The day before the Super Bowl, there was a rally for Seahawks fans at Chase Field, the baseball stadium where the Arizona Diamondbacks play. It appeared that all of Seattle attempted to attend the rally as lines were jammed as security let fans in at only one gate at the stadium which created a massive line which we waited in for almost an hour before getting in. Another downpour of rain did not dampen the spirits of fans adorned in a plethora of Seahawks jerseys and t-shirts.
I later heard reports that approximately 25,000 Seahawks fans attended the event which lasted from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Once at the rally, fans were allowed onto the field where Seahawks signs and flags were handed out. There were concession stands which sold hot dogs, popcorn and pretzels just like any sporting event. The one addition was Skittles, the candy of choice of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. We were pleasantly surprised to know that water and Diet Coke was free at the venue. Seahawks owner Paul Allen sprang for the entire event. He spoke on stage which was set up in center field of the baseball stadium. Also speaking to the crowd was Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Seahawks Play by Play announcer Steve Raible and performances by the Seattle Sea Gals.
The big screen in the stadium showed highlights of the Seahawks season which culminated with the emotional, come-from-behind victory against the Green Bay Packers. The crowd erupted when they saw Jermaine Kearse’s touchdown catch in overtime.
Downtown Phoenix was brimming with mainly Seahawks fans as spontaneous chants of “SEA” followed by other fans replying “HAWKS” throughout the streets. Confidence was at an all-time high. The NFL also held the “NFL Experience” at the Phoenix Convention Center which featured interactive displays celebrating the league and football. It also included a huge line which wound around the block. After another lengthy line, we finally entered the center and looked around at the exhibits. The Lombardi Trophy was the centerpiece at the exhibit for me, but there was another lengthy line which I could no longer stomach standing on my feet to wait.
The day of the Super Bowl, we had to endure more traffic and lines even though we showed up five hours before the actual game time. I was nervous. Not for the result of the Super Bowl (because I knew the Hawks would win), but because I had the most expensive sporting ticket in the history of my life in my hand and wanted to ensure that I made it through the gates before losing it.
Good news. We made it in. The real Phoenix weather made it out for the Super Bowl as if the NFL had ordered it to come out on the biggest day of the year for the league. The sun and warmth of the day made it a great scene. As we entered through the mounds of security into the stadium I was struck by the enormity of the event. Yes, the title of the event should have tipped me off, this is the SUPER BOWL. Despite how anxious I was for the game to start, I took the time to take pictures and then just stand and look at how awesome it was to be there and blessed, as a long-time sports fans, to have the opportunity to see this in person.
As for the game, it was one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. Northwest Asian Weekly favorite, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, scored a touchdown in the game. Fortunately, my view of his touchdown celebration where he mimicked going to the bathroom on the football was obstructed. I am not sure if he lost his mind momentarily or was a making statement about the NFL.
The game was exciting and seemed to go by quickly. The halftime show, which I usually skip when watching it at home, was very entertaining live. Katy Perry, the headlining performer, put on a fabulous performance. We were also reminded about how great Missy Elliott is with songs that were blasts from the past.
The end of the game was the best example of why sport is such a great thing. Seahawks fans, including myself and my wife experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in a span of five minutes. After Jermaine Kearse made an incredible catch and Marshawn Lynch ran the ball “Beast Mode” style to the 1 yard line, I could only think of one thing.
“Run it down their throats one more time.”
But…A pass. An interception. And the city of Seattle could not explain what they had just witnessed. Neither could I.
As the confetti flew and Patriots fans celebrated an improbable goal line interception, my wife and I decided to leave our seats. We were treated to shouts by Patriots fans of “Go back to WARSHINGTON!” and “You Mad Bro?” mocking Richard Sherman’s infamous Twitter remark to Tom Brady after the Seahawks regular season win over the Patriots in 2012.
There were many emotions about the end of the game. Perhaps losing the Sonics may be the only other moment in the history of Seattle sports that compares to this level of low. Maybe the Sonics is more hurtful since the Seahawks could be back to the Super Bowl but the NBA may never be back to this city.
At the end of the night, we fought traffic back to our hotel and only one word could describe my emotions.
Jason Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.