I nearly drove off the road the other day.
No, the roads weren’t icy at the time. A talking head on the radio had just said tickets cost $2,600 to sit in the cold for Sunday’s Super Bowl. Really?
I mean, sure. It’s a lot of fun, and there’s plenty of goodies that’ll be handed out from the National Football League to each and every fan who doles out that kind of money. I’m just glad that I had the opportunity to go when I did.
Waaay back in 1973, my late father — Jack Bombatch — and I went out to Los Angeles for Super Bowl VII. That was the year that Don Shula was guiding the Miami Dolphins to the NFL’s only undefeated season, but they still had to get past the Washington Redskins.
It was the second Super Bowl to be played at Los Angeles’ ginormous Memorial Coliseum. The cavernous stadium was originally built to host the 1932 Olympic Games and is now the home of the UCLA Bruins college football games. Back then, it hardly ever sold out. To this day, it’s still the largest stadium among Pac-12 schools with a seating capacity of more than 93,000.
With the stadium’s size in mind, we figured that we could find ourselves a seat without much of a problem.
My dad was a mechanic for the now defunct Trans World Airlines, so we flew as stand-by passengers at no cost from Columbus. Surprisingly, there were no difficulties in our making connections to or from Los Angeles.
And once we arrived in LAX, we went in search of a rental car. That proved to be more of a chore, but I remember that dad managed to snag us an AMC Gremlin for the weekend.
With a smell that suggested it had either hit a deer or was once involved in a mob hit, and a suspension, or lack thereof, that had us bracing for a rollover crash with the taking of every highway cloverleaf, that Gremlin was an adventure in itself. I think “Leaning Lena,” as we called her, was the last car the rental agency had on the lot.
Once we had our wheels, we found the Pen & Quill Hotel. As it turned out, the Redskins’ fan club had booked most of the hotel’s rooms. But there was one vacancy. We didn’t sleep much while we were there, for all the banging and celebrating that was going on, and stuff going on that an 11-year-old boy probably shouldn’t know about, in the other rooms.
But it was the Super Bowl. We didn’t mind.
So, with the smooth flight, mob-hit mobile, and rowdy hotel out of the way, game day was on hand and we still needed some tickets.
Ticket scalping is legal in California, and so we were able to find a guy selling end zone tickets for … get this … two for FORTY DOLLARS! That’s right. $40 for two tickets to a Super Bowl game.
Even back then, when the going rate for Super Bowl tickets was $15 each, we got TWO for $40 dollars.
As it would happen, we had seats about halfway up the far end of the Coliseum. There’s an end of the stadium where these huge roman columns stand, and that’s where we were.
Most of the game’s action — including field goal kicker Garo Yepremian’s botched pass attempt that led to the Redskins’ only score — occurred on the other side of the field. But we had our binoculars, and we were able to see pretty well with those.
I can only imagine what a trip like that would cost today. But 41 years ago, my dad and I saw the Dolphins make NFL history with their 14-7 win, and we enjoyed a fun Super Bowl weekend in the warm California sunshine, all for a whole lot less than $2,600!