Thursday, December 14, 2000

Tickets few, hard to find




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        Beware of strange men delivering pizzas. Watch out for healthy rogues in rented wheelchairs. Be sure to check the bathrooms for covert gate-crashers. The Crosstown Shootout tips off tonight.

        Cincinnati's college basketball blood feud has become the town's toughest ticket and, consequently, a leading source of chicanery. Efforts to gain admittance to the annual UC-Xavier skirmish can be almost as entertaining as the games themselves.

        “Last year, at Xavier, WLW is doing their long pregame show and all of a sudden a guy comes in wearing a Domino's outfit,” UC spokesman Brian McCann said Wednesday. “The guy delivers two pizzas, but he never leaves. I remember seeing him at halftime, trying to sneak into the student section. And when I asked, nobody had ordered the pizza.”
       

Hot commodity
               Tonight's Shootout at Shoemaker Center is officially sold out, and UC's gatekeepers will be hip to the pizza scam, but access is still available through the secondary market and skulduggery. Riverfront Choice Tickets was offering upper-level seats Wednesday for $80. Once inside, an enterprising fan sometimes can improve his view.

        “I've never been able to prove it,” Xavier ticketing director Andy Barry said. “But I heard there were people who had seats upstairs and they'd go out and rent a wheelchair so they could sit on the floor.”

        Though tickets to tonight's game carry a face value of $20, obtaining them is no small feat. Most of the 13,176 seats in Shoemaker Center are sold on a season basis, and most of those that aren't reserved can be appropriated by season-ticket holders before they are offered to the general public. The few floor seats that become available from one year to the next go to donors who pledge at least $50,000 to the school over a five-year period.
       

Connections needed
               The 2,800 student seats behind the baskets are free, but they are awarded on a first-come basis. Dozens of students camped out in the cold Tuesday night to protect their place in line for Wednesday morning's ticket distribution.

        “I got there about 10 p.m.,” said sophomore Todd Heinecke. “We had a couple of blankets, a sleeping bag and a tent. I wore a ton of layers, and I was still freezing. When the wind was blowing around, we could see our breath inside the tent.”

        The alternative was to get closed out of the contest, because once the season-ticket holders have been serviced and the student allotment has been filled, there is precious little left. Seats have become so scarce at the Crosstown Shootout that the visitors' band (and particularly its Sousaphones) is no longer invited.

        The visiting team's allotment — which was 1,500 seats before the two programs attained national stature — lately has been trimmed to 150 tickets.

        “A lot of our people have been conditioned that if we're not at home, don't even ask,” Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “But it's amazing to me that so many people still try.”

        Anyone who requests a ticket at this point has a lot of nerve. Anyone who gets one has ingenuity, cash or connections.

        “If the governor calls, we'll work something out,” UC ticket manager Meagan Kantor said. “But anyone lower than the governor doesn't get in.”

        E-mail: tsullivan@enquirer.com.

       



Xavier Stories
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- SULLIVAN: Tickets few, hard to find
Fanaticism, new events spring from UC-XU rivalry
Satterfield pivotal for UC
Who will be the rising star?
Each team's keys to winning
Who's got the edge?
Highlights of recent Shootouts

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Jackson, Mitchell see what young Bengals don't
Roman to get 1st start at corner
No sellout, TV expected
Jaguars' Taylor limited by leg injury
Reds get new groundskeeper
Reds will hold tryout camp
City submits Olympic bid
Where Olympic events would be held
Four annual festivals would precede Games
Georgetown back in NAIA title game
Boys basketball schedule
Girls basketball schedule


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