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mesaSteeler
01-30-2011, 09:31 AM
Thanks for the memories
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2011/january/29/thanks-for-the-memories.html
By: Patti Conley
Beaver County Times

Saturday January 29, 2011 08:04 PM

CHIPPEWA TWP. — Here we go to Dallas.

Here, Steelers fans recount Super Bowl trips to New Orleans, Miami, Pasadena, Detroit, Tampa and, not so happily, to Tempe.

Here they talk about the Super Sundays in the ’70s, when tickets were $20 to $30 and going was an affordable fact of a blue-collar fan’s life.

Here they look back and laugh and sigh and, above all, gladly say, “Pittsburgh’s going to the Super Bowl.”

Again.

———

For several splendid hours 35 Super Bowls ago, Dan Santia and his late wife, Patty, sat in Seats 7 and 8, Row 22, Section 26, in the Miami Orange Bowl’s upper deck.

The Hopewell Township resident was certain that the Steel Curtain could corral the Dallas Cowboys and win Super Bowl X, the second consecutive NFL championship for the Black and Gold.

He was an avid fan. “She didn’t know whether you blew a football up or stuffed it,” the retired Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp. supervisor said. They were among five Aliquippa-area couples and a priest who went south to Florida.

A week before the Jan. 18, 1976, game a friend called.

“Tell Patty to get packing,” the late Jack Stevens said. Did he and Patty want to go to the Super Bowl? Stevens could get tickets. They were $20 each.

“I thought he was kidding,” Santia, 80, said. He never thought he’d have an opportunity to go to what had already become “the” game that everyone, anywhere, wanted to attend. Mike and Kathy Darroch of Center Township also said “yes” to Stevens’ offer.

They found a Super Bowl travel package deal: round-trip airfare to Miami and four nights in a Pompano Beach hotel, about an hour away from the Orange Bowl, for about $425 each, Santia guessed.

Back then spending $20 for a ticket and $850 as a couple for the trip package was a lot of money, Santia said. In all, he estimated the trip cost the Santias about $1,500.

That $20 ticket in 1976 would be like spending about $77 now; the $850 package about $3,247; and trip total of $1,500 would be about $5,748 in 2010 dollars.

Comparably, that’s still far less than Super Bowl XLV’s face-value seats: $600 for an upper-level general fan lottery ticket, and $800 for a general admission ticket, according to the NFL.

Standing room is $350 face value and a seat in the party plaza outside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, is $200.

But finding a face-value ticket a week before the game, except through a season-ticket holder lottery, is as probable as the Cleveland Browns being in a Super Bowl. Internet ticket sales on eBay and other sites continue their climb into the thousands of dollars.

“We could have sold them (their tickets) for $200 (each) back then,” Darroch, 63, a retired funeral director said.

Neither Darroch nor Santia sold the tickets, but neither would pay thousands of dollars for a hard-to-get Super Bowl XLV ticket now.

Back then though, Super Bowl tickets weren’t as difficult to find.

At breakfast in Pompano Beach that Sunday morning, a man walked up to Santia and asked if he could use a couple of Super Bowl tickets. He had extra tickets. The stranger didn’t want money. He gave Santia two.

When they got to the Orange Bowl, Santia hoped to give the tickets to his brother, Dominic, who had come to Miami for the game on a different trip package and did not receive his paid-for Super Bowl X tickets.

In those pre-cell-phone days, Santia didn’t find his brother at the Orange Bowl. Outside the gate he did see a middle-age man and his son, who was probably 12.

“We’re not going to get in,” the little boy was telling his dad. Santia approached them and told them he had two free tickets.

“Here, take your son to the ball game,” he said, then added, “I know where the seats are. I expect to see you in them.”

Santia didn’t know where the two sat, but he’s still thrilled about what he and his wife, who died 11 years ago, saw from their seats.

“There are times when I go to bed and I pull that trip out of my head,” he said. “I’ll never forget when the game started. The airplanes came and then that big roar and all at once you couldn’t see because of the balloons (they released) in all the different colors of the rainbow. I had never seen anything like that.”

“It was like a big party, and the big thing was you knew that you knew you were a part of something that was going to be history,” Darroch said.
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“You didn’t have to be a millionaire to go. I was just an average Joe, and the bulk of the people were just like us,” Darroch said.

“(The game) was one of the most exciting thrills of my life,” Santia said. Second only, he said, to marrying his bride.

Sadly, his brother Dominic, who lives in Hopewell Township, watched the game in his hotel room in Miami.

———

Lucky us. Seven times the Steelers went to Super Bowls. Six times they brought the Lombardi Trophy home to Pittsburgh.

Lucky Dan Santia. Twice, he journeyed to Super Bowls. He followed up his Super Bowl X Miami trip with a cross-country plane flight in January 1980 to Pasadena, Calif., where the Steelers played the Los Angeles Rams in the Rose Bowl.

Super Bowl XIV was Ed DeRose Sr.’s first. If his luck in the Steelers season ticket holder lottery continues, he’ll be in Dallas next Sunday watching his fifth. After Super Bowl XIV came XXX, XL and XLIII in Tempe, Ariz., Detroit and Tampa, respectively.

Lucky him. The 75-year-old Chippewa Township resident knows what most Steelers fans hope is true: that the Super Bowl is an amazing experience, a good party among a family of fans, best when the Steelers win, and though costs continue to rise, each is etched in his mind like the numerals on the Lombardi trophy.

Pasadena is his most memorable experience.

DeRose, his wife, Jo, and her sister and brother-in-law, Marie and Bevo Tooch of Chippewa, were part of a five-day, four-night Super Bowl-Las Vegas package arranged by Michael Fayad, then the new owner of Casino & Sports Travel Inc. in Aliquippa.

The $649 per person cost (about $1,718 today) include chartered round-trip air fare, game tickets, transportation to the Rose Bowl and later that evening to Las Vegas for a four-night stay.

Fayad did what he can’t do now. He called the Rose Bowl, asked for 150 tickets at a face-value of $30 each, and got them. Champagne flowed during the flight from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles on Super Bowl morning, DeRose said.

He needed an extra ticket for a relative in California. A flight attendant made his request over the cabin’s loudspeaker. DeRose got another $30 ticket.

“Everything was free and easy in California,” Marie Tooch said. The Los Angeles Rams fans were unbelievably quiet. The Terrible Towel twirling Steelers fans were typically loud and proudly boisterous.

“People from California were looking at us like, ‘Are you nuts?’ ” Jo DeRose said.

Sixteen years later, the DeRoses paid $200 face-value per ticket to see the Dallas Cowboys pay back the Steelers with a 27-17 win at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.

DeRose kept the vow he made the first time. He will not pay more than face value for a Super Bowl ticket. And hasn’t.

At Detroit for Super Bowl XL in February 2006, he and his son, Ed DeRose Jr. of Hopewell Township, each paid the face-value cost of $600.

For Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa two years ago, DeRose, his son, and his friend Dick Cairns of Rochester paid $800 for each face-value ticket.

“(Super Bowl costs) are getting out of hand for regular people, but it will always be a sellout,” DeRose said.

“It began as a sporting event, and it became a business,” Bevo Tooch said.

That’s super, but not perfect. DeRose described Detroit as “horrible” — the weather was too cold, the maze of security was long and trying.

And fans were welcome to party in special tents around Ford Field if each paid $15 to enter, said George Idzojtic, 68, of Conway, a veteran of Super Bowls XIV and XL.

A pickpocket tried to take Cairns’ wallet as he stood in a crammed souvenir tent after Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa. And the Jumbotron in Raymond James Stadium didn’t work during the first half.

All of which didn’t change what matters most.

“The game’s still awesome,” DeRose said. “It’s the chance of a lifetime, and we’re so fortunate to have a team that continually goes.”