Bret Bielema tries to unload two tickets to the inaugural Big Ten Championship Game. It's tough to sell tickets when Indy is thinking of paying people $75 to "fill seats". (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
[UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE BREAKING BREAKING BREAKING!!!!]
According to Spencer Hall at EDSBS - this entire thing about the Big Ten paying people to attend the championship game is a hoax! A HOAX! Which is really just another word for "TRAP!" when you get right down to it, and like most well-executed traps it sucks you right into it before you even realize what's going on!
Husker Mike had to be the one to fall for it, because heaven knows, no one else did!!!! Anywhere. Whatsoever. Absolutely no one. Certainly not me. Oh no, that would never happen. HAHAHA Take that, Mr "Voice of Reason"! Woohoo!!!! - JJ
On Craigslist for Indianapolis, someone is looking for "seat fillers" for an event on Saturday night.
Saturday night event in downtown Indianapolis needs seat-fillers. Total number of seat-fillers needed will vary based on crowd.
Must tolerate loud noise and crowds. Event will last all evening on Saturday night. All ages, sexes, races, etc.
Please use contact e-mail. Event planner will follow-up with exact details on location for staging of seat-fillers (additional information and instruction provided there).
This response arrived from the Indianapolis Convention Center:
Thanks for expressing interest in helping us fill empty seats on Saturday night. We have gotten your e-mail address, and will be sending out details Saturday morning to match the expected number of needed seat-fillers. Our client has asked for discretion about this opportunity, as “seat-filling” is behind-the-scenes aspect of this event production.
On the day of the event event, we will designate a parking garage and validate your parking. Seat fillers will be assigned seats inside or near the event close to the event start time. We expect fillers will need to be checked in around 6:30pm on Saturday. The event itself begins shortly after 8pm, and we expect it to conclude close to midnight. You will receive payment at the end of the evening upon turning in the paperwork given to you at the beginning of the evening.
No experience is necessary, and there are no age, sex, or race requirements. We are asking that all participants wear red or dark green t-shirts and/or hats.
This is an exciting opportunity to be paid to see a live sporting event! We look forward to seeing you on Saturday.
So what does this mean, considering that the secondary market is full of cheap tickets? Officially the game was sold out...until Wisconsin returned 2000 tickets from their allotment. Badger fans realized they could get better seats on the secondary market (from Husker fans), and decided to not pursue official channels. And if Nebraska fans aren't able to dump their tickets, those seats will sit empty.
And that won't look good on television.
Hence, Indianapolis' move to fill the seats somehow - any way possible. They probably wanted to do this in a clandestine fashion, but the plot was exposed. Some people suggest that this wouldn't happen in Chicago. Well, maybe...maybe not. Would Northwestern or Illinois fans flock to fill the stands at Soldier Field on Saturday night?
I wouldn't bet on that either.
No, this is the natural result of playing a game like this without an obsessed fan base (read: Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio State) having their team involved in the game. Not enough Wisconsin and Michigan State fans want to spend the money on tickets, hotel rooms, and transportation to fill a stadium on relatively short notice.
Same thing happened in the Big XII several times. Kansas City had large numbers of empty seats when Colorado played Oklahoma. Same thing in St. Louis when it was Nebraska and Texas A&M. I think Houston had some sparse crowds as well.
What's the solution? Simple...do what the Pac-12 did. First team to qualify for the game gets to host the game. That invariably means that you take hotel/travel issues off the board. You don't think that this game wouldn't sell out in Madison? Probably would sell better in East Lansing as well.
Unfair? I'd argue that it's the incentive to win games; it makes the regular season a little more meaningful. And it's not like every other sport uses neutral sites for their championship games. Only in college football and the Super Bowl is a "neutral" field even considered. And this is the downside of a neutral site: a game that the locals don't want to support, and adding hassles to the fans
Should this game be played outside? If it's going to a home team, of course! Should it be played at night? That's a different argument. I think a better case could be made to play it in the afternoon, prior to the SEC game that evening. Probably would draw better ratings with a 1 pm kickoff anyway.
Let this be a message to the Big Ten: play the championship game on someone's home field and bring a true college environment into the championship game.
Otherwise, you are REALLY taking a chance on something like this happening. Indianapolis tried to do this in a subtle mannner....but once the story broke, the Big Ten comes out embarassed. Play it in Madison, and Wisconsin is the organization that looks bad. Play it in East Lansing, and it goes on Michigan State.
Play the game on a neutral field...and it makes the entire Big Ten look bad when stunts like this happen. Just play the game on campus - bring the students in, and reap the benefits.