Papal visit officials in Monterey, flush with excess tickets to Pope John Paul II's outdoor Mass at the Laguna Seca raceway, announced Monday that 29,000 tickets are being made available to residents of Southern California and six western states.
The tickets previously were distributed to parishes in Northern California, but priests returned the tickets to the Monterey diocese when demand fell far short of supply, diocesan spokesman Ted Elisee said.
First chance at the tickets will be given to those on a waiting list of 3,000 compiled by papal visit officials while the Northern California parishes are deciding how many tickets they need, Elisee said. Most of those on the list are Southern California residents.
In other areas--most notably Los Angeles, where the Pope will conduct public Masses at the Coliseum and Dodger Stadium--demand has eclipsed supply.
But in Monterey, tickets have gone begging for the Sept. 17 Mass. Only 69,000 of the original allotment of 100,000 have been reserved by Northern California parishes, which were given first choice on tickets.
Officials said they believe the distances many parishioners would have to travel to attend the Mass--some tickets went to parishes as far away as the Oregon border--limited demand. Those attending also will have to travel by bus onto the Laguna Seca site and will sit on the ground at the open-air grassy bowl, two requirements that officials said may also account for reduced enthusiasm.
Los Angeles-area residents seeking tickets can call a toll-free number set up by the Monterey diocese, 1-800-843-2121. Northern Californians who want tickets can call 1-800-858-1414. And residents of Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho can call 1-800-426-2671.