Lions stop giving away tickets for free

Updated: December 13, 2010, 8:03 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- James Burton left home in Ohio at 3 a.m. Monday and drove to Detroit, hoping to score free tickets and watch Brett Favre, his favorite player.

He got two of the 30,000 tickets that were distributed by the Lions at Ford Field and scurried to a first-row seat near the 30-yard line behind Minnesota's bench.

[+] EnlargeFord Field
Leon Halip/Getty ImagesFans flocked to Ford Field on Monday night after the Lions gave out 30,000 free tickets for a relocated game between the Vikings and Giants.

Burton's mood took a hit about 90 minutes before the Vikings kicked off against the New York Giants as word spread that Favre was inactive because of his banged-up right shoulder.

"I'm devastated," said 20-year-old Burton, who was wearing a replica of Favre's Green Bay jersey and a cheesehead. "Well, I guess this is a historic game."

It was unique, too.

The Lions essentially loaned their indoor stadium to the NFC North rival Vikings for the night after heavy snow caved in the Metrodome's room back in the Twin Cities.

Ford Field's senior director of facility management Bob Gardner said the purple paint for the Vikings' logo at the 50-yard line -- it was Vikings home game, after all -- and for the "VIKINGS" lettering in the end zone didn't arrive until about six hours before kickoff.

"It's on there, but I don't know how long it's going to last," Gardner said.

When the Vikings took the field by position groups, they were greeted with the familiar blowing horn that has welcomed them at Metrodome for two decades. Those holding tickets to the Giants-Vikings game, originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon Minneapolis, were given preferred seating.

While some spectators watched the game for free, many paid cash on a secondary market that started seconds after the Lions stopped handing out free tickets after just two hours. Fans with tickets from the Packers-Lions game on Sunday in Detroit were told they'd get in free, with no reserved seating in the 65,000-seat indoor stadium with a steel roof.

Spencer Young said he bought one of those tickets for $75.

"I got it on the street and was the first in line 2½ hours before the game started," Young said, sitting in the second row next to the tunnel used by the Vikings. "This is awesome."

NFL officials decided the rescheduled and relocated game would be broadcast in the teams' home markets and on the NFL's satellite TV package. A replay was scheduled to be shown at midnight on the NFL Network.

The Lions released a statement saying there was an "overwhelming response" to tickets for the game. Approximately 30,000 tickets were distributed, according to Lions spokesman Bill Keenist.

Walter Gaiter showed up at 10 a.m. ET and he and hundreds of people braved teeth-chattering cold weather were told the free tickets were no longer available.

"Within seconds, someone was trying to sell me four for $20," the 38-year-old Detroiter said. "Then, the prices shot up to $10 and $20 for one ticket before you could blink an eye. It's crazy."

Stacie Morris wasn't there in time to get the freebies, but the registered nurse from Simsbury, Conn., visiting a friend in the Detroit area said she paid $60 for four tickets.

"I hate football and I've never been to an NFL game," she said. "But I was like, 'They're giving away tickets, let's do it!'"


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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