Just how big is the Butler vs. Independence high school football game tonight in Charlotte?
There’s now a secondary market for tickets.
Craigslist features over a dozen people selling tickets to the game as of lunchtime Friday. The huge rivalry game, normally held each year at 24,000-seat Memorial Stadium, had to be moved due to ongoing renovations.
"There was some damage done to the seats by the horseshoe part of the stadium. Repairs are not supposed to be completed until January," Butler athletic director Jim Boone said.
Since Independence was listed as the home team, the game will now be played on the school’s campus stadium, which seats only 4,250. The hype for this showdown of unbeaten teams has created a demand for tickets that greatly exceeds the supply.
"Tickets were just sold to students and faculty. Football teams for both schools got shared for their parents. Everyone else was in a lottery," said Boone, who was given 1,900 tickets for the game. "If a kid won the lottery, he got to buy three tickets. All of ours are gone."
Tickets went for $6 apiece and quickly sold out. Starting on Wedneday, Craigslist began to show listings for people attempting to resell tickets. Some listings were partial to fans of a particular team. A listing from Indian Trail, N.C., offered four tickets for face value, mentioning a "preference to Butler supporters" and asking potential buyers to "email your affiliation."
Other listings on Craigslist requested a higher amount for the tickets and showed no preference between fans of the two teams. One listing offered a single ticket for $50, calling tonight’s contest, "the most important game of the year."
The site also has listings for people selling tickets to the Carolina Panthers game this weekend against the New Orleans Saints. Some of those listings are for as little as $45. Tickets for tonight’s Charlotte Bobcats game against the Atlanta Hawks can be found for as little as $8, suggesting tonight's high school showdown could be the most anticipated sporting event in town this weekend.
A search of eBay, one of the Internet’s most heavily-trafficked websites, turns up one ticket being auctioned for tonight’s game. The asking price is $50. So far, there have been no bids, but over 150 people have viewed the auction. The seller, whose profile lists a location of Matthews, N.C., is billing his auction as "the hottest ticket in town."
Alex Fernelius, a student at Myers Park in Charlotte, is one fan attempting to sell a ticket on Craigslist. He said he bought three tickets from a female student at Independence. He plans to attend the game with his grandfather and sell the extra ticket.
"It’s probably the biggest game of the year, bigger than the state championship," he said in a telephone interview. "Eight-hundred tickets sold out in nine minutes at Independence."
According to Boone, both schools handled ticket sales as fair and efficiently as possible, and have tried to limit the number of people reselling tickets.
"CMS (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) has done everything they can to prevent that from happening," he said. "Kids will be kids. When you have a lottery, they’re going to get tickets, and they’re going to sell them. I don’t really see any way to stop that. It’s a process of having a stadium that only seats 4,200.
"Everyone wants to be there."
Butler, No. 13 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National High School Football Rankings presented by the Army National Guard, sits at 9-0 heading into the showdown. The Independence Patriots are also undefeated and have a history of success against Butler, beating the Bulldogs twice in the process.
"Anytime we play Independence, I liken it to the Duke-UNC rivalry," Boone said. "I don’t think it would matter where we were ranked. It’d still be a great rivalry. It’s going to be a great game."