Ticket sales for Dolphins at Tiger Stadium heating up
By SHELDON MICKLES
With 10 days remaining before the New Orleans Saints play their first regular-season game in Tiger Stadium, club officials say ticket sales continue to climb.
While the team won't have an official count until later today, in excess of 40,000 tickets have been sold for the Oct. 30 game with the Miami Dolphins as a result of a spike in sales in the past 2ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã‚Â° weeks. Approximately 22,000 tickets have been sold in that time.
The first of four games at LSU will feature the return of former Tigers coach Nick Saban, who left in December to coach the Dolphins following a five-year run in which he led the Tigers to the BCS title in 2003.
"The number is climbing steadily," Mike Feder, the Saints director of regional sales, said Wednesday. "We have people coming in and buying tickets and lines at the PMAC (Pete Maravich Assembly Center) have been consistent. Our phones have been ringing off the hook, so I'm encouraged."
"With this first game coming up next week, we should have a real positive week ahead," he said. "We're getting calls from the entire Gulf South, which we expected we would because the Saints have always been a tremendous regional franchise. People are glad that we're coming back."
The Saints haven't played in Louisiana since Aug. 26, three days before Hurricane Katrina inflicted heavy damage on the Superdome and ravaged the city. That forced the club to move its football and business operations to San Antonio for the entire season.
After NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue switched the team's home opener to Giants Stadium, the Saints played their last two home games in the 65,000-seat Alamodome.
The public bought about 50,000 tickets for the first game with the Buffalo Bills before Saints owner Tom Benson and a corporate sponsor purchased 8,000 tickets to distribute to hurricane evacuees and relief workers.
The Alamodome was filled for last Sunday's game with the Atlanta Falcons, but about 40,000 tickets are still available for the Dec. 24 matchup with the Detroit Lions.
In addition to the Dolphins, the Saints will meet the Chicago Bears (Nov. 6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Dec. 4) and Carolina Panthers (Dec. 18) in Tiger Stadium, whose seating capacity was downsized to 79,000 for the Saints.
Slow ticket sales for the first game were blamed on Hurricane Rita, which knocked out electricity and phone service for several days at the Saints' ticket office on Interline Drive.
The Saints were also handcuffed because they had to hold back more than 30,000 tickets for season-ticket holders who wished to exchange their Superdome tickets for games to be played at LSU.
Feder said those seats that have not been claimed will be released to the public early next week. He said season-ticket holders who wish to make an exchange should contact their office, preferably by e-mail, by the close of business Friday.
He said season-ticket holders can contact ticket manager Mike Stanfield at email@example.com
in order to make an exchange.
Individual and four-pack tickets are available at the Maravich Assembly Center from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and at the Saints' office at 9613 Interline Drive, Suite C.
Tickets can also be purchased through the Saints by phone at (225) 927-8626 or (210) 208-9520 and Ticketmaster (800) 877-0898 or online at www.neworleanssaints.com
Tiger Den suites are also available by contacting Feder at firstname.lastname@example.org
Reserved parking passes are on sale for $20 per game at www.LSUsports.net
and at the LSU Athletics Ticket Office. Motor homes will be allowed to park free of charge in Touchdown Village.