The 2003 National Championship Game posed some daunting logistical challenges. How to get to tickets? How could I possibly get to the game without having to take out a second mortgage on the house? Once we got to the Phoenix area, where would we stay?
The tickets were the toughest issue. I didn’t have season tickets, nor did I make four-figure donations to the Ohio State Athletic Department or Alumni Association that might permit me to get some. I could use a ticket broker, but long-suffering Buckeye fans had bid the cost of tickets through the roof, and there was an undercurrent of concern that fraudsters offering phony tickets might prey on Ohio State faithful. (This turned out to be a valid concern, as one of my friends learned to his chagrin that year.) So, in hopes of getting a ticket for a somewhat reasonable price, I used eBay for the first, and only, time. I found a pair of tickets purportedly being offered by a Miami student, bid and re-bid, and ultimately got the ducats for $980 — more than three times face value, but still below the apparent market price being quoted by brokers. A few days later, the tickets arrived. They looked genuine, but I wouldn’t know for sure until we got to the stadium on game day.
Once we had the tickets (apparently), the travel pieces fell into place. Air fare from Columbus to Phoenix had been jacked through the roof, and all flights were packed. So, I looked into the possibility of flying into some relatively close airport, like Las Vegas, San Diego, or Tucson, and renting a car. I ended up getting round-trip tickets to San Diego for a reasonable price. And when word got out the Russell and I were going to the game, one of my friends from work, the saintly Dan Minor, asked if Russell and I would like to stay with Dan and his son John in a condo at The Boulders resort in Scottsdale. That was one of the easiest decisions I ever made!
The weeks after the Buckeyes’ victory over Michigan had been busy with logistics. Now, with tickets and travel plans in hand, Russell and I enjoyed the holiday season, all the while waiting for our January 1, 2003 departure date.