Published online: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014 Print: Friday, Jan. 31, 2014
SEABECK – The moment Richard Sherman tipped the ball away from San Francisco 49er Michael Crabtree, Zana Gearllach knew she was going to the Super Bowl.
The 35-year-old Seabeck resident, who has cerebral palsy, bought a wheelchair-accessible seat at MetLife Stadium along with a ticket for her mother through an NFL-sanctioned event planner for an undisclosed price weeks earlier. Gearllach was not picked as a season-ticket holder in the Super Bowl ticket lottery. But the contract she signed for two ticket packages was contingent on the Seahawks winning the NFC Conference Championship on Jan. 19. The official NFL Super Bowl website offers three packages ranging from $3,000 to $10,600.
Season ticket holders, such as Gearllach, are placed in a Super Bowl ticket lottery when their teams qualify for the game. A select number are then picked and eligible to purchase tickets. Most season-ticket holders interviewed for this story were picked in the lottery and paid $800 per ticket.
Gearllach has been a season-ticket holder for eight years. Her mother, Lauri, says she was born a Seahawks fan.
“When I gave birth to her, she came out with green and blue pompoms,” she joked.
Attending a Seahawks Super Bowl game is at the top of Gearllach’s bucket list. She came close to attending Super Bowl XL, the last time the Seahawks were in it. Without thinking, Gearllach’s mother turned down tickets.
“As soon as I hung up, I knew I made a big mistake,” Lauri said. Before she had a chance to reconsider, the tickets had been sold.
“Now that we are going, am I off the hook?” Lauri Gearllach asked her daughter.
Yes, once they are sitting at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Zana replied.
Not a second before.
SECOND SUPER BOWL
Before she was off the ferry and back in Bremerton following the NFC Championship Game, Charlotte Belmore was notified she was picked in the ticket lottery for Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I about had a stroke,” she said.
Her husband, Mark Schmidt, did not believe it. He assumed her email was about the championship win or someone was playing a prank. After all, who wins the Seahawk Super Bowl ticket lottery twice?
Charlotte Belmore and Mark Schmidt did.
Or more accurately, Belmore’s father, Bill Cleveland, who has been a season-ticket holder for more than 20 years.
Cleveland won the lottery in 2006, when the Seahawks lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he wasn’t able to attend because of work. He said he never considered selling them.
“You could sell them, but you don’t know where their loyalties lie,” Schmidt said of the buyers.
With Schmidt and Belmore, the tickets would be safe in the hands of Seahawks fans.
Belmore said Super Bowl XL was not as loud as games at CenturyLink and finding Seahawk memorabilia was nearly impossible.
Losing the game didn’t make the experience any better.
This is the year for Seattle redemption, and maybe the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl victory.
And as Schmidt sees it, “It might be the best chance to win.”
BETTER THAN A BIG SCREEN
Jim Carlson considered selling his tickets and not going to the Super Bowl.
Carlson, a Bremerton resident, knew he could sell his pair of tickets for $2,600 to $3,200.
“I told my son I could buy him a pretty big big-screen TV for that,” he said.
Carlson has been a Seahawk season-ticket holder for more than 20 years.
The final decision came down to the experience of attending a Super Bowl versus watching it on a new TV … no matter how big the screen.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event,” Carlson said. “I know how exciting it can be. And I want my kid to experience all this.”
Carlson attended Super Bowl XLIV in Miami to watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts. But experiencing the game with his son, 14-year-old Conner, will elevate the memories.
When he saw the tickets he said, ‘This is for real,'” Carlson said.
And better than a big screen.
METLIFE NO CENTURYLINK
For 35 years, Gene Straw has gotten Seahawk season tickets. He’s been attending games since he bought two tickets for $7 apiece in 1979.
He knows almost everyone sitting around him at CenturyLink.
“Most of us have been in those seats since the stadium was built,” he said.
Although he won lottery tickets for the Super Bowl this year, he won’t be attending the big game at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
“I don’t like watching the game from the 300 level,” he said. “It won’t be the same as watching the game in CenturyLink Stadium. You are not going to have the same noise level as CenturyLink.”
Straw, who lives in Bremerton, and his daughter Norma Jean Straw, who lives in Seattle, attend Seahawks games together. They stand through whole games in CenturyLink “around all the crazies” and that’s they way they like it, Straw said.
“To me, it makes sense to sell the tickets and enjoy the games with people I love,” he said.
One seat at the Super Bowl costs more than he paid for the entire season of tickets. Straw can use the money from selling the Super Bowl tickets to pay for next year’s season tickets, he said.
Straw doesn’t think MetLife will live up to the atmosphere of CenturyLink.
“It costs way too much in my mind,” said Straw, who is retired.
For Straw, the game of the year was the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers.
“That was the most exciting game I have ever seen,” he said. “That game took me two days to wind down from.”
SELLING TO A SEAHAWKS FAN
Some people will think she is terrible for selling her Super Bowl tickets, Trish Adler admitted, while laughing. But she was only half joking.
Her parents have been Seahawk season-ticket holders since 1976.
Since Adler’s older brothers, Mike and Tom Hobbs, went to the playoff games with the family’s season tickets, the Super Bowl tickets went to Adler and her sister Susan Eadie, who lives in Ellensburg.
But since Eadie isn’t much of a traveler, and Adler, of Kingston, is in the middle of building a new house, neither is going to the game.
Adler’s son John, 26, was quick to volunteer to buy the tickets and take his aunt Susan’s place at the Super Bowl. He will be taking his girlfriend.
If it wasn’t for a midnight plane ride to Thailand, Adler’s daughter Rachel, 31, would be the one traveling alongside her brother to the game.
For now, the prized tickets are sitting on a table under Adler’s watchful eye where she is enjoying them while she can.
“Just looking at them is awesome.”
A HOUSE DIVIDED
Super Bowl XLVIII created a divided family.
Kimberly Kelly lives in Kingston and is a Seahawks fan. But her younger sister Beckie Grainger lives in Denver and is a Broncos fan.
Kelly, a season-ticket holder, won the Super Bowl ticket lottery. And her sister, the Broncos fan, doesn’t have tickets to the game.
“She asked if I would take her and I said, ‘No.’ Then she asked if I would buy her Broncos gear. I told her it was against my nature,” Kelly laughed.
The rift doesn’t end between Kelly and Grainger.
Kelly’s father, Doug Haycock, will be cheering for the Seahawks from his home in Utah, while his wife, Kathy Haycock, Kelly’s stepmother, has sided with Grainger and the Broncos.
With all of their travel plans finalized, the Kellys have packed up the needed Seahawks gear and prepared for the cold temperature in New Jersey.
“We are bringing enough to let everyone know what team we are standing by,” she said.
It is not the Denver Broncos.
BETTING ON FAITH
Christina Bystrom is not typically a gambling woman. It never really interested her until it came to this year’s Seahawk team.
And she went all in.
While vacationing in May in Las Vegas, the Bremerton resident put down $100 on the Seahawks going to the NFC Championship Game, and another $100 down on the team going to the Super Bowl.
She was so confident in the Seahawks, she booked a hotel for Super Bowl XLVIII last February.
She was more stressed and more worried about being drawn for the Super Bowl ticket lottery than the Seahawks winning the championship game, she said.
“I was calm most of the game,” she said. “I didn’t have any anxiety until the final minute.”
Before she made it onto the ferry home, she received the lucky email — she was selected in the Super Bowl ticket lottery.
To add to her lucky streak, she picked up her Super Bowl XLVIII tickets the morning of her birthday.
Bystrom started going to games with her mother in 1976, when she was 6. She attended games for years and became a season-ticket holder in 2007.
Although Bystrom has been a Seahawks fan since the Kingdome, it has not always been a smooth ride. She attended the last game at the Kingdome when the Seahawks played the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins scored a fourth-quarter touchdown to win the first-round playoff game.
“We were meant to win that division playoff game,” she said.
She is feeling optimistic now and ready for Super Bowl XLVIII.
“I think we’re going to represent,” she said. “I don’t think we are going to win, I know.”