By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2005
It must have been a game-day Sunday like the one coming up that inspired Philly native William Claude Dukenfield to remark: "I once spent a year in Philadelphia. I think it was on a Sunday."
Like Dukenfield, the 1930s-era comedian better known as W.C. Fields, Philadelphians apparently are having a bad case of ennui. They're just not as enthusiastic about seeing the Redskins-Eagles game now that their team doesn't have a shot at the playoffs, so it looks as if they're dumping tickets.
And with Redskins fever building with their four-game winning streak, Washington fans are snatching up the castoffs.
While the Redskins will earn a playoff berth with a win, the Eagles are going nowhere, and neither are their fans, according to several independent ticket brokerage Web sites. Many have given up on a team that tumbled from Super Bowl euphoria a year ago to a tumultuous and disappointing 6-9 season going into Sunday's 4:15 p.m. game.
"Skins fans are clamoring to see Sunday's game in Philadelphia," said Sean Pate, a spokesman for StubHub, a Web site where users buy and sell tickets. Eagles fans "are making their tickets available in large numbers on StubHub.com."
In fact, he added, StubHub is selling more tickets for Sunday's Redskins game than for any other Eagles game this season.
The marketplace determines the prices, which toward the end of the week were ranging from $58 for a second-level seat to $450 on the 35-yard line. The most expensive ticket sold on StubHub through Wednesday went for $600 for a prime 50-yard-line seat.
"We are selling a lot of Eagles tickets," said Robert Stein, director of search marketing for Ticket Network Direct.
"Redskins fans are buying them," said Kenneth Dotson, chief marketing officer for TicketsNow.com, which buys and sells tickets. "There's not a tremendous amount left."
Jason Randall, chief executive of Coast to Coast Tickets, said: "The prices that brokers are asking don't show a dramatic drop-off. Hope springs eternal, I guess."
Randall suspected that Eagles fans were getting rid of tickets, though he couldn't quantify it.
"So what would you expect?" said Lou DeMaise, manager of Chicky and Pete's, a sports bar in South Philly near the stadium. "It's just been an awful year for us here in Philadelphia. Fans that come in here gave up hope three or four weeks ago. They're talking about next year, what's going to happen with McNabb," referring to whether Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will return to the team.
In Washington, the year's far from over. A Redskins official, who asked not to be named, said that Coach Joe Gibbs, like many NFL coaches, was superstitious and didn't want the team to announce the sale of playoff tickets before the team had qualified.
The official said there was concern among the coaching staff that announcing a sale would motivate the New York Giants, who must lose to the Oakland Raiders on Saturday night for the Redskins to get to play at home during the first round of the playoffs.
"The rumor is that the Redskins aren't sending out tickets until next week, which could mean most people won't have tickets in their hand until Wednesday or Thursday," said Jeff Greenberg of ascticket.com, a Washington area ticket brokerage. "If the game is Saturday, there's not much we can do. They could have a disaster on their hands if they have 90,000 people lined up at the will-call window on game day."
No such problem in Philly, though it's not as if a latter-day Dukenfield doesn't have Sunday choices. In addition to New Year's Day brunches and parties, or the crab claws at Chicky and Pete's, there's the traditional Mummers parade, with floats and bands and marchers making their way up Broad Street from about 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Anthony Cortese, general manager of Melrose Diner, a Philadelphia landmark near the stadium, and a self-described die-hard fan, conceded that many of his fellow Eagles fans will be at the parade -- or somewhere else other than the game. But Cortese, a season ticket holder, will be in the stands Sunday. "Sure, it's been a bad year," he said, "but come September, we're all 0-0 again."