Did You Score Eagles Playoff Tickets?

Screw online buying, I miss camping out overnight for tickets ... the frostbite, the trash-can fires, a Coors Light breakfast

As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. So who’s to blame for my semi-annual disappointment when tickets for an Eagles playoff game go on sale and I come up empty?

Before explaining what happened earlier this week, let me rewind a bit. One thing I miss in the Internet age is buying tickets at the box office or a Ticketmaster outlet, especially for marquee events, like concerts that were guaranteed sell-outs or post-season sports. Granted, it was a flawed system — brokers would pay homeless dudes to camp out overnight and buy as much as they could. But there was still a satisfying democracy to the process. If you were dedicated enough to wake up at dawn or sleep outdoors in the rain or cold, chances are you’d score seats. It was also a sort of tribal bonding experience. I met a college girlfriend waiting in line for tickets at a strip mall on Rt. 73 in Marlton. A young, dare-I-say-svelte Andy Reid once showed up at the Vet to shake hands with the maniacs in line for playoff seats. It was so cold that morning, fans lit trash-can fires to keep warm. The act of ticket-buying was an event in itself, a communal rite that brought people together. Even if you walked away empty-handed, there was a sense that you’d done all you could to make it happen, and you left with a story to tell.

Fast-forward to this past Tuesday morning. No fear I’d get frostbite, no folding chairs in a parking lot, no camaraderie with my fellow fans or an early morning Coors Light breakfast. Just my web browser, poised to refresh the Eagles event page at the stroke of 10 a.m. I used to have all sorts of tricks for getting through to Ticketmaster on the phone, but now, there’s just one national 800 number. That line had been busy for 10 minutes. The Internet was my only option. I’d set the time on my computer to the official United States clock. With just a second left before the stroke of 10 a.m., I hit refresh.

The sales screen appeared. I was in. Really? No “please be patient while your page loads” message? The Eagles don’t release many individual tickets for playoff games, so it was literally like hitting the lottery (just one in which I spend money instead of winning it). I scanned the pop-up windows. Upper level. Two seats. Then I noticed something called the “AAA Ultimate Fan Zone Pre-Game Party Package.” It was the only option available. The price: $310.35 per ticket.

It’s not even 10:01 a.m. and this is all that’s left? I don’t want to tailgate in the climate-controlled Hall of Fame Club at Citizens Bank Park. I don’t want to meet Swoop. I want two nosebleeds for $95 each — not exactly a recession-busting deal, by the way. What I ended up with was frustration. I emailed my cousin Bill who also tried to score tickets. He didn’t even get through to the on-sale page. I assured him he didn’t miss much. The only other option was standing room, but by then, it was already too late to blow $75 on a ticket that didn’t come with a lousy seat.

Sadly, the best way to get a ticket these days is to fork over a ton of cash on StubHub or another resale site. For the rest of us without that kind of dough, the odds of scoring seats are stacked higher than ever. The Eagles are like an Atlantic City casino — a few people get lucky, but most walk away as losers, and the house always wins. What’s worse, there’s no fun in the attempt anymore, no bonding with fans or memories to share years later. Just the cold glow of your computer and a text to tell your buddies you struck out.

I’m still fuming over the false advertising leading up to this Eagles sale — if I knew all they’d offer were $300 “value-added” packages, I wouldn’t have wasted my time. But I know I’ll try again next week if they beat the Packers. Damn you, Birds. And shame on us both.