Don’t be a ticket traitor

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - MARK KISZLA Den­ver Post Colum­nist

For a lousy $500, there are Bron­cos fans who would sell their soul, not to men­tion their al­le­giance to quar­ter­back Pey­ton Man­ning and the lo­cal NFL team. Shame on them. The home-field ad­van­tage in the NFL play­offs that Den­ver has worked all sea­son to se­cure is be­ing un­der­mined by traitors who live next door to you in Bron­cos Coun­try.

With Pitts­burgh at­tempt­ing an un­friendly takeover of Sports Au­thor­ity Field at Mile High, at least 10 per­cent of the tick­ets in the 76,125seat sta­dium are for sale on the sec­ondary mar­ket, there for the tak­ing by Ter­ri­ble Towel wa­vers who cheer for the Steel­ers.

“What’s the point of hav­ing sea­son tick­ets if you sell them, es­pe­cially to Squealer fans?” Den­ver realtor Bob Oster­heldt said.

You’re not a real Den­ver fan if you sell your tick­ets to some­body who wants Pitts­burgh to win.

“There’s no light way to put my dis­gust for those who do that,” said Frank Dar­dano, a die-hard Bronco ma­niac.

OK, I get it. The av­er­age price on the sec­ondary mar­ket for a ticket to the Pitts­burgh-Den­ver show­down is $499.71, ac­cord­ing to Tiq IQ. This is the United States of Amer­ica, and our great na­tion was built on cap­i­tal­ism. If there’s any­thing we Amer­i­cans love more than foot­ball, it is money.

But what would make a Bron­cos fan sell out his team? At age 39, Man­ning

needs all the help he can get.

“I can’t use Bron­cos love to pay the mort­gage or buy eggs and bread,” said Lance Bax­ter of Colorado Springs.

The day that changed Bron­co­ma­nia for­ever was Jan. 22, 2006. With the AFC cham­pi­onship on the line, it was a glo­ri­ous win­ter af­ter­noon, ex­cept for one sorry sight. The sta­dium was awash in a sea of yel­low, with tow­els be­ing waved by Rust Belt es­capees who were cheer­ing for the Steel­ers.

“It was bru­tal. I’ll never for­get walk­ing out in the sta­dium with Champ (Bai­ley) as we were go­ing out for DB drills early, be­fore the game. We both looked at each other and said, ‘What is this?’ ” for­mer Den­ver safety John Lynch told me in 2014. “The prob­lem with the Pitts­burgh fans was the Ter­ri­ble Tow­els are so vis­i­ble, so it felt like there were more Steel­ers fans than Bron­cos fans. You shouldn’t let that af­fect you. But I think it af­fected us.”

The Bron­cos lost 34-17. As a re­sult, the team adopted ticket-buy­ing poli­cies that made it more dif­fi­cult for out-of-state fans to ac­quire seats. The prob­lem now is too many Den­ver fans have be­come so jaded that loy­alty to the home team seems quaintly out­dated.

So let’s give props to the Bron­co­ma­ni­acs who re­sist the urge to turn a profit by sell­ing their tick­ets. Here’s a toast to Luke Binder, a Den­ver na­tive.

There’s a die-hard Steel­ers fan in the place where Binder works. The of­fer was tempt­ing: $1,200 for two seats.

But the an­swer from Binder was a firm: No!

“I’m prob­a­bly a knuck­le­head,” Binder said. “But I’m a life­long Bron­cos fan and couldn’t bring my­self to give up the seats. Get why fans are sell­ing them. I just can’t do it.”

Yes, I be­lieve in a free mar­ket. In Oc­to­ber, I made a foot­ball pil­grim­age to my home­town of South Bend, Ind. Paid $297.75 for a sweet seat on the 40-yard line, 31 rows be­hind the Notre Dame bench. When I sat down next to three guys wear­ing sweat shirts of the USC Tro­jans, it made me sick to my stom­ach.

The Bron­cos have been es­tab­lished as 2½-point fa­vorites against Pitts­burgh. The home-field ad­van­tage is gen­er­ally worth a field goal. If Den­ver fans give that away, the No. 1 seed in the AFC that the team worked so hard to earn could be flushed away in the name of money.

“You know what you get with money,” Brian Robl of Aurora said. “You don’t know what you get when you go to the game.”

But shouldn’t faith in the home team be worth more than $500?

“I would sell any seat for $500,” Corey Carl­son said. “I could watch the game from the beach.”

Talk is cheap. You are what you do.

In Den­ver, a sea­son-ticket holder who loves money more than the Bron­cos is not a real fan. Give up your seat to a Steel­ers fan in re­turn for a hand­some sum of cash, and you’re a scalper.

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