Maybe there is such a thing as Twitter karma. I wrote that during the Baltimore Ravens’ first playoff game when they hosted the Indianapolis Colts. I probably had this thought run through my head while listening to the fans chant that now-ruined White Stripes song (crap, it’s in my head again … I think it also supplied the soundtrack to most of my dreams last night).
I saw a lot of Ravens fans this week. Thousands and thousands along the Mississippi River, on Bourbon Street, and on the long, slow walk to the gates as we entered the Superdome. They donned purple wigs, purple tutus, and most of them wore “R. LEWIS” jerseys. They outnumbered 49ers fans everywhere we went, including the game itself (I’d estimate at least 55% of the crowd pulled for Baltimore, maybe as much as 60%). Then, on our walk home, some of them taunted us with “HA!” or “Niners suck.” Since I’ve gone this far without dropping f-bombs on BASG, I’ll spare you what my wife and I said in response.
Were the fans from Baltimore annoying? Sure. But what was even more disheartening was the poor turnout seen from 49ers fans. According to Google Maps, San Francisco is almost exactly twice as far from New Orleans compared to Baltimore. But Super Bowl tickets are expensive, and I can’t imagine too many people drove from Maryland to the Big Easy. Most people flew, and the cost difference between flights from SFO or Oakland couldn’t have been that drastic compared to flying down from Baltimore.
However, cost was an issue at this Super Bowl. It certainly was for us, and in a moment of weakness I pounced on two tickets. What an awful, stupid decision, one which we’ll never repeat again. It took forever to get into the stadium. Budweiser beers were $12 apiece. Watching Beyonce from the stands was a far lesser experience than watching her on TV (I found myself watching the stadium screen most of the time). We’re going to try to write a lot of this off, but I’m not sure the IRS would consider Super Bowl tickets a reasonable business expense.
Bay Area residents are more affluent than those residing in the Baltimore area, by and large. So why didn’t more of them make the trip? Perhaps the York family and the 49ers are to blame for gouging their most faithful fans, the ones with the means and desire to shell out Super Bowl dough — the season ticketholders.
The 49ers themselves didn’t expect to get this far, this quickly. Winning the Super Bowl this year would’ve been considered a happy accident. They hired Jim Harbaugh and gave him a five-year deal, and certainly didn’t expect to come within a play or two of reaching the Super Bowl last year. They’re in the business of peaking at the moment they enter their new stadium in Santa Clara, and would absolutely love to be one of the participants the first time that facility hosts its own Super Bowl (perhaps in 2016).
That stadium is paid for in large part by the fans. Fans who have complained loudly about the thousands they’ve been asked to fork over in the name of “seat licenses,” i.e. paying for the right to pay for tickets. You’ve heard the complaints: “We’ve had the same seats for 30 years, and now they want $20,000 per seat,” or “My dad had tickets at Kezar, and we’ve kept these seats in our family ever since, but now we’re going to have to think long and hard about renewing once they move.”
A lot of them are renewing, but that brings up a dilemma: with the prospect of writing a check that could cover the down payment on a house on the horizon, could these people afford to pay for airfare, lodging and tickets to Super Bowl XLVII? At least based on what I saw this week, the answer to that question for many of them was “no.” And as a result, the predominant color in the Superdome last night was purple.