Local News

Panthers Fever Has Fans Reaching For Wallets

Posted January 19, 2004

— As soon as the final seconds ticked away on the Carolina Panthers' victory over Philadelphia in Sunday's NFC Championship, Triangle football fans made plans to go to Houston for Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Perhaps many more hit the streets in search of Panthers paraphernalia and sportswear.

The good news for fans wanting to attend the Feb. 1 game against New England is that there are numerous Super Bowl ticket packages available.

The bad news: It'll be costly.

People willing to pay the price can purchase a Super Bowl ticket package from a travel agent for anywhere from $2,765 to $3,685 per person.

Some fans don't seem fazed by the high price -- making it appear as though Panthers fever has overtaken sticker shock.

"We had one client whose buddy threw him in a pool after the game (Sunday), and he called, and he was soaking wet," said local travel agent Brian Wilder. "He's calling us to book a Super Bowl package. So, yes, they are excited."

Wilder said he expects his company's 500 Super Bowl specials to be sold by Wednesday morning.

While travel agents were busy selling tickets, Panthers merchandise was hard to come by Monday.

"You can't find Carolina Panthers stuff," fan Debbie Schiappa said. "It's probably already off the shelves beforehand, so, if you can find it . . . It's hard to find. Local stores like Wal-Mart, Target, they don't have any."

A trip to one of Cary's largest sporting goods stores Monday proved the point -- only one rack with a couple of Stephen Davis jerseys and a few shirts.

So, local Panthers fans who cannot find a shirt and are willing to lose theirs

can

make it to the Super Bowl.

Almost any travel agent can point you in the right direction if you want Super Bowl tickets, transportation and lodging. Many suggest checking with the

Better Business Bureau

to make sure you are getting the deal you are paying for.

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