Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 | 8:01 a.m.
What: PureVision Las Vegas Bowl
When: 5 p.m., Dec. 21
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium
Who: Mountain West Conference No. 1 vs. Pac-10 No. 4 or 5
On the Web: www.lvbowl.com
It was one for the ages, a momentous occasion unlike any other, a day which will live in - what's the opposite of infamy, anyway?
Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of one of the most remarkable occurrences in the annals of sport - a sports writer reaching into his wallet to pay his way into a football game.
I know this actually happened because I was there - and because I was the sports writer reaching into his wallet.
During her remarks at last year's PureVision Las Vegas Bowl ticket kickoff luncheon, Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the game's indefatigable executive director, commented that regardless of what Pac-10 and Mountain West teams her committee selected, the local media would probably find fault with the matchup.
She was only joking. (She was also right.)
So afterward, I gave her $10 for an end zone ticket, telling her that I wanted to do my part to ensure the game's financial success. I was only joking, too.
But we had a good laugh, and TKM was so touched by my shocking act of benevolence that she kept my $10 bill in the safe for six months. Either that, or she feared my 10-spot was counterfeit.
Little did I know the game would sell out for the first time in its 14-year history and that my one end zone ticket would then be worth something.
I eventually gave that ticket, and another one Kunzer-Murphy was kind enough to provide, to the wife and daughter of a BYU fan who was defending his country in Iraq while the Cougars were defending the end zone against Cal.
But as for history repeating itself, forget about it. While it's entirely possible the stars could line up just as they did last year resulting in another sellout, I'm quitting the ticket-broker business.
Parting with $10 for an end zone ticket is one thing. But this year, the cheap seats for the Dec. 21 game at Sam Boyd Stadium featuring the Mountain West champion (or its biggest draw) against an underachieving team from the Pac-10 cost $20.
Who do I look like, Bryant Gumbel?
Actually, $20 is still a bargain, even if Arizona State is involved. But the Las Vegas Bowl no longer has the cheapest ticket in the bowl business. In fact, it doesn't even have the cheapest ticket among the Mountain West-affiliated bowl businesses, as the Fort Worth Bowl will let you in for $15. (The cheapest tickets at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego and the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque are $23).
This year, end zone tickets to the Las Vegas Bowl cost $30. The $20 seats are in the pie sections in the corners of the end zone. Every other seat is $50, with an exception of a few rows on the 50-yard line on both sides of the field. Those cost $100 and, I hear, will offer the buyer the option of playing nickel back in passing situations.
But while a cheap seat will cost $10 more, at least you won't have to leave for the stadium after breakfast to be assured of getting one. Last year the $10 seats were general admission, and the rush to get one turned the end zone sections into a mosh pit. This year, every seat is reserved.
"General admission doesn't work in bowl games," Kunzer-Murphy said. "Everybody piles into those bleachers. It's crazy."
She's right. I elbowed my way into those bleachers just before kickoff last year and still have the bruises to prove it. And this was on the BYU side. You should have seen it in the Cal sections, where they were drinking the leaded 7-Up.
Anyway, tickets are now on sale. The highlight of Tuesday's luncheon at Cili at the Bali Hai Golf Club - for me, anyway - was when Mountain West deputy commissioner Bret Gilliland started explaining why you still can't watch UNLV football games on TV in Las Vegas and a couple of helicopters buzzed the practice green, drowning him out.
Then the big shot from Bank of America announced he was buying a platinum ticket package for $10,000. Followed by the big shot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announcing he was buying four platinum packages with a retail value of $40,000.
That was followed by the not-so-big shot from the Las Vegas Sun sheepishly putting his $20 bill back into his billfold.