Raiders Couldn't Do Job Even Before Game Started

Times Staff Writer

As if Raider fans needed more suffering.

Despite last week's high demand for Super Bowl tickets that created an almost desperate climate in Oakland, Raider officials returned at least 100 tickets to the NFL.

The tickets had a face value of $500 and were located in the much-desired club level, said Jim Steeg, the NFL's senior vice president for special events. Club-level seats were being sold for at least $3,000 by ticket brokers last week.

Several Raider season-ticket holders, already upset by the team's helter-skelter system of distributing tickets, were further angered that some of the Raiders' allotment was returned.

"That's pretty bad, especially when I saw hundreds of Raider fans, if not more than that, sitting around Qualcomm Stadium, ready to sell their souls to get in," said Gil Gutierrez, a season-ticket holder since 2000 who lives in Laguna Niguel.

The NFL said the tickets were returned last Thursday, but Raider officials said they were returned Saturday, blaming last-minute cancellations by Oakland fans.

"We had commitments from our fans for the tickets, but their plans fell through," Raider spokesman Mike Taylor said. "We didn't want the tickets to fall into the hands of scalpers."

The Raiders were able to accommodate 7,000 season-ticket holders and luxury box holders, Taylor said. The Raiders and Tampa Bay each received about 10,500 tickets from the NFL.

The Raiders frustrated fans by conducting four different lotteries to determine who among their 29,500 season ticket holders had the right to purchase tickets in San Diego.

Raider officials blamed the Oakland Football Marketing Assn., which was in charge of distributing the tickets, for being understaffed. The OFMA, fund- ed by the city of Oakland and Alameda County, is not directly controlled by the Raiders.

Regardless, Raider fans were not happy.

Chris Peterson, a season-ticket holder since 1995 who was not successful in any of the lotteries, spent $6,000 for two tickets at a charity auction. Peterson said he knew plenty of people who would have bought the tickets the Raiders returned -- himself included.

"I paid a lot of money for my tickets ... I would have loved to get them at face value," he said. "It's frustrating they gave some back."

It was not unprecedented, Steeg said. The New England Patriots gave back a similar amount of tickets before last year's Super Bowl.

Steeg said the returned tickets went toward filling media credential requests.

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