Packers fans spending thousands for Super Bowl
The buying frenzy started right after the Packers beat the Bears 21-14 for the NFC championship Sunday night. Stores were already selling championship merchandise and people were scrambling to buy t-shirts, hats and sweat shirts as well as calling travel agencies and ticket sellers for Super Bowl tickets.
"It's like Christmas, like the day after Thanksgiving almost is how the sales have been," said Melissa Babcock, department manager at Sports Authority in suburban Milwaukee. "It's crazy."
That's because it is like Christmas for Packers fans. The last time the Packers went to the Super Bowl was in 1998 and they lost to the Denver Broncos. The Packers won Super Bowls in 1967, 1968 and 1997.
Babcock said within two hours of the Packers winning, they were nearly sold out of all championship merchandise. Josh Anderson, manager of Ticket King near Lambeau Field in Green Bay, said they also worked after the game and sold about a dozen Super Bowl tickets right off the bat. They sold another three or four dozen by late Monday morning.
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection warned Packers fans of bogus Super Bowl ticket offers and encouraged them to buy from businesses or people they trust.
One fan looking for tickets Monday was 58-year-old John O'Neill, who is known as St. Vince because he wears a green bishop's costume and mitre, with former coach Vince Lombardi's face on it, to Packers games.
He said he first wore it for Super Bowl in 1997, to "represent the spirit of Lombardi come back from heaven to see his Packers in yet another Super Bowl."
"I think that's important that there's always a visible connection with Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers and I'm just trying to do my part to maintain that connection," he said.
He said he'll go to Dallas even if he doesn't have tickets with the hopes of getting them there. He plans to drive with a caravan of other fans, wearing his outfit.
"I will put that on as soon as I get into the car," he said. "You think I would miss the opportunity not to go through Illinois with that on?"
As of late Monday morning, Anderson said they had already surpassed Super Bowl ticket sales from non-Packer years. He expects to at least triple their normal sales.
"I hope they go every year," he said.
Anderson said their cheapest tickets were $2,750 for the upper corner of the end zone, but they've mostly sold tickets between $3,000 and $4,000. The prices were so far in line with other years, but he said he expected them to fluctuate in the next two weeks.
They've also sold about a dozen packages, with the least expensive being around $4,000 per person. It included a bus ride to Dallas, four nights at a hotel, tailgating before the game and the NFL Experience.
Babcock said about 15 to 20 people were waiting when they opened at 6 a.m. Monday, but had to wait for the merchandise to be unloaded. A few hours later they had almost sold out again. She hoped another truck would arrive Tuesday.
Wisconsin politicians were also getting in on the fun.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker sent numerous tweets during the game Sunday, even noting that his wedding anniversary is the same day as the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. His birthday was the day he won election.
"c a pattern here?" Walker tweeted.
There was no immediate word Monday from Walker's office on when Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will make good on the bet he made before the game to volunteer in a Wisconsin food pantry wearing a Packers jersey. Quinn also agreed to fly a Packers flag over his office the day before the Super Bowl.
Associated Press writer Scott Bauer in Madison contributed to this report.