It’s a bird! No, wait, it’s a plane! Well, if not, it’s probably a local man who’s willing to do pretty much anything to get his gloved hands on some Super Bowl tickets, even leaping over a tall building or two.
It’s a bird!
No, wait, it’s a plane!
Well, if not, it’s probably a local man who’s willing to do pretty much anything to get his gloved hands on some Super Bowl tickets, even leaping over a tall building or two.
Like many fans of the New England Patriots, 26-year-old Derek Shanahan was hoping this week he would not be forced to yell out his support for the Patriots Sunday night in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants - while facing a TV screen.
During an interview earlier this week, Shanahan said he and his family and friends were so convinced they’ll be able to get tickets they’d already purchased plane tickets and lined up a car and a place to stay in Arizona.
With or without tickets to the game, Shanahan said he and his friends and family plan on meeting in Arizona, and collectively, the group will be traveling from as far afield as Alaska, Texas and Florida.
“I’ve had everything set up since November,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan has stirred up a modest amount of local notoriety by dressing as “Captain New England,” a local football-crazy superhero, while attending Patriots games in full costume. His garb comes complete with inflated muscles.
His Patriotic photograph has graced the pages of several local newspapers and his face has been flashed on many local TV channels.
Three years ago, Shanahan said he surfed the Internet searching for a red, white and blue costume to wear to games. He purchased the muscle suit online and over the next few years added finishing touches to it, including boots and gloves, and the Patriots logo on the front.
“I wanted to do something out of ordinary to get fans into games,” Shanahan said.
Born and raised in Rockland, Captain New England’s alter ego makes his living as a Blue Cross and Blue Shield claims adjuster. He just happens to be a lifelong Patriots fan as well.
In character, Shanahan has gained some fans himself while attending Pats home games, and has even been approached by autograph seekers.
“That was a little weird,” Shanahan said. “I was caught off guard. After the game I met a little boy, I think he was 7, he was handicapped in a wheelchair. He asked for a couple pictures and I gave him my autograph.”
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Shanahan has been trying to cash in on his Captain New England fame in a last-minute scramble to secure tickets, despite average ticket prices which have been running at $4,000 a pop.
According to numerous sites selling Super Bowl tickets, a limited number of them are available to Patriots season ticket holders who win a “weighted lottery.”
That system is based on the number of years fans have held Pats season tickets and the number of tickets available in the account.
Derek Shanahan’s father, Gerald “Jerry” Shanahan, Jr., has been a Patriots season ticket holder since 1971.
And for the sixth consecutive time (for each of the Patriots’ Super Bowl appearances), he has not won the chance to buy tickets to the championship game through the lottery.
“We’re basically on our own to try to find tickets,” Shanahan said. “My father and I, we tried contacting everyone we knew who had season tickets.
No one won it. We tried to contact different places and find something a little cheaper than the $4,000 rate. We’re all trying. Everyone’s been e-mailing back and forth to see what we can work out.”
Either way, Shanahan and his crew still plan to take the trip to Arizona and meet in Phoenix as a family.
“If worse comes to worse we’ll just try to find a sports bar where all the fans are watching and watch it there, but to be honest I think we’ll get tickets,” he said. “I’m hoping. I’d like to see (my father) at least get in, I have my whole life to keep trying.”
A local family’s fandom
Derek Shanahan said his family has had a long tradition of following the Patriots, and his father and grandfather Gerald “Jerry” Shanahan became season ticket holders in the mid-1970s.
“When he was about my age (my father) would go with my grandfather and he’d go no matter what,” he said.
Before Derek was born, his father and grandfather attended home games for the Patriots. He remembers hearing stories about a game they attended during particularly bad weather.
“They were one of the few people in those seats and the announcer kept making fun of them and started saying, ‘Look at these fools in this weather,’ ” Derek Shanahan said. “They always told that story but that was before my time.”
Derek’s father remembered the day his father passed away in December of 1999.
“He died the day after the Patriots played the Buffalo Bills and lost,” Gerald Jr. said. “That was the last game he ever saw the Patriots play.”
Continuing the family tradition, the Shanahans are attempting to find tickets in any way they can, and Derek has posted numerous photos of himself on www.craigslist.com, donning his Captain New England uniform to prove his authenticity as a true Patriots fan.
As of earlier this week, though, few visitors to the Web site, which has everything from help-wanted ads to sports talk forums, had responded to his query.
“To be honest they were all scams,” Shanahan said Monday.
Each time someone had contacted him offering tickets through the Web site for $1,200 or less, Shanahan said he suspected fraud. He also noted that the majority of “craigslisters” asked for wire transfers instead of in-person transactions. He told them he wouldn’t send money transfers to a faceless name.
“Then they just stop e-mailing after a while because they know it’s pointless,” he said. “I know there are so many counterfeit tickets out there, I’d rather deal with someone who’s legit.”
Shanahan said he also tried to purchase tickets from Etickets and Ebay.
Legitimate Super Bowl tickets at the cheapest, sell for $2,700, Shanahan said.
“That’s for the nose bleeds,” he said.
Shanahan said he’s heard of people spending up to $50,000 for a couple of seats.
“Unfortunately with the Super Bowl it’s all about the money, not about the fans,” he said. “I guess that’s too bad, but it’s all about the business.”
Big ticket items
Derek has attended one Super Bowl in his lifetime, when the Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers in Houston three years ago.
“That was the first he’s ever been to,” Gerald Jr. said. “I took him as his graduation present from college. That was like the (MasterCard) commercial where they say the price of cola or the price of popcorn, and being with your son. Priceless. It’s something I’ll never forget and it’s something I think he’d never forget.”
Gerald Shanahan Jr. said he’s had the good fortune to have attended each of the five Super Bowls in which the Patriots have played, dating back to 1986. The price was steep each time, he said, but worth it.
“It’s run quite a few dollars to get into the games,” he said. “That’s the sad part, being a season ticket holder for so long … and I’ve never won the lottery.”
He said he believes the Patriots give thousands of fans the opportunity to purchase Super Bowl tickets, but the official number is “hush-hush.”
“I think there’s a better way for them to do the lottery,” Gerald Shanahan Jr. said. “What bothers me is that the people that get chosen to do the lottery aren’t planning to go to the game. They get the tickets and turn around and sell them for profit.”
He suggested that vendors check to see that fans have airline tickets set up to prove they actually plan to attend the game.
“The average fan, the guy that sits in the stands every game every year really doesn’t have a fair shot of getting Super Bowl tickets,” he said.
“I’d be willing to spend a couple of thousand. But that’s the sad part of it; the face value is $700. Even that isn’t easy for the average guy, but what are you going to do? If you want to go to a game you make it happen one way or another. Hopefully I won’t have to sell my first born to get it. Then again he’s 26, he can be on his own.”
Gerald Jr. said he remembers watching the Patriots with his father back in the 1960s.
“I went to games when they played in Fenway Park and Boston College and Harvard Stadium, before they even had their own football stadium in Foxboro,” he said.
Gerald Jr. dedicated a piece of that magic to his father by purchasing a plaque on the back of his season ticket seat that reads: “In memory of the Pats number one fan, Gerald P. Shanahan.”
He purchased the plaque when the Patriots’ new stadium, Gillette Stadium, opened in 2002.
“That was my way of making him be at every game,” he said, “whether he’s here in person or not.”