Legislators offered bargain tickets to Super Bowl

Saints owner Tom Benson offered legislators a bargain on tickets to Super Bowl XLVII.

The New Orleans Saints sent legislators an email this month offering them the opportunity to buy two tickets each in the Mercedez-Benz Superdome for the National Football League matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.

“Thank you for your support in securing Super Bowl XLVII,” the email read before spelling out details and deadlines for ordering tickets.

It is unclear how many legislators bought tickets through the Saints ticket office.

Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said Monday that he did not immediately know how many legislators bought tickets to the Super Bowl. The team would have to run a tally, which would take time, Bensel said.

However, at $850 per ticket, legislators’ entry into the Super Bowl is far cheaper than the $3,195.14 average ticket price cited Monday by Tiq IQ, which tracks ticket prices.

The Saints allowed legislators to buy the tickets at face value, which ranges from $850 to $1,250. Stubhub demanded $1,800 a ticket for similar seats.

State Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, said he took advantage of the Saints’ offer. He plans to root for the Ravens on Sunday. “We paid face value for the ticket, and I was happy to be able to buy them,” he said.

Senate President John Alario, R-Westwego, did not respond to a request for comment.

Through a spokesman, House Speaker Chuck Kleckley, R-Lake Charles, said he purchased tickets from the Saints ticket office.

Other legislators said they passed on the offer because they thought the price was too steep for tickets in the terrace level sideline, which is the upper portion of the Superdome.

“I’m definitely not going for $850 a piece. I didn’t go when the Saints were in it,” said state Rep. Cameron Henry, R-New Orleans.

State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, said he is not flush enough to go to the Super Bowl. “I’m not going. It’s exorbitantly expensive,” he said.

State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, said he looked at the seating chart and decided to watch from home. “They’re in the nosebleed section,” he said.

Thompson said he allowed a constituent to purchase his tickets.

State Sen. Robert Adley, R-Benton, and state Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, said they also gave other people access to their tickets.

“I remember one year I bought those tickets and they were for the third row from the top. They looked like ants down there,” Adley said.

Geymann said he lacks the money and the desire to go to the game.

Eleven years ago, when New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl, Benson gave then-Gov. Mike Foster and state legislators the chance to buy tickets.

At the time, the Legislature was considering a $186 million bailout of the New Orleans Saints.

Gov. Bobby Jindal later signed a long-term deal to keep the NFL franchise in New Orleans. The agreement included $85 million in taxpayer-funded improvements to the dome and the state’s lease of space in an office building owned by the Benson family.

As governor, Jindal gets a suite in the Superdome as one of the perks of his job. His spokesman, Sean Lansing, said the NFL dictates sales and distribution of Super Bowl tickets, including the stadium’s suites.

“There was a standing invitation for the governor to attend by Tom Benson, but he will be watching the game at home with his family,” Lansing said.