RALEIGH (FEB. 1, 2001) – The Carolina Hurricanes box office and ticketing department experienced perhaps the best attended single-game ticket on-sale day in franchise history Thursday.
The Entertainment and Sports Arena box office opened at 10 a.m. to sell single-game tickets for the remaining 16 home games of the 2000-01 season, including two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Anxious fans with cellular phones pressed tight against their ears waited in a wrap-around, roller coaster-style line that spilled out of the Arena lobby. Some fans got through to TicketMaster’s switchboard and purchased tickets while waiting in line.
“I already called and got my order placed,” said Maureen McCormack, a business analyst from Raleigh. “I just wanted to see if I could get anything better waiting here.”
The return of Mario Lemieux to Pittsburgh's lineup might have had something to do with the flurry of fans looking to purchase tickets.
“This is crazy,” said Pete Schwartz, a civil engineer from Raleigh. “As soon they announced that Mario Lemieux came back everybody had to jump on getting tickets.
“I was planning to come anyway because I wanted to see Jagr and I’m a big fan,” said Schwartz, a Pittsburgh native. “I wasn’t planning on coming here at 10:00 today but Mario’s back, so I knew that I needed to come down.”
The line and atmosphere resembled an on-sale for a Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd or Grateful Dead concert.
“I didn’t think it would be like this at all,” said McCormack, another Pittsburgh native. “The first few games I came to, there weren’t too many people at the Arena. Now it’s a big deal.”
For Schwartz, and others in line, seeing the Hurricanes take on Lemieux and the Penguins brings the same anticipation and excitement.
“It’s going to be awesome,” said Schwartz of Lemieux’s visits to Raleigh. “I remember I cut high school in 1991 or '92 – whenever the Pens won the Stanley Cup – and went down to Three Rivers (Stadium), right at the Point for the celebration. I had a lot of hooky days.”
Following the announcement at 10:28 a.m. that only single seats remained for the Hurricanes’ March 23 game with the Penguins, fans held their ground. At 10:55 a.m. came the announcement that the game was sold out. Still, fans waited.
“I’m buying tickets for other games and hoping to get tickets to April 8 (against Pittsburgh),” said Wesley Jackson a chemist from Holly Springs, NC.
“It’s great for the Hurricanes and great for Raleigh,” said Mark Lovitt of Clayton. “I didn’t really expect this big of a crowd, myself. Everyone’s hoping to get tickets for the Pittsburgh games, I’m sure. Still, it’s great that everyone’s out here and it’s great for the Hurricanes.”
The Arena security staff arrived early this morning to find many fans already waiting for the box office to open. Security coordinator Clinton Peterson began giving fans numbered wristbands and telling them to return at 8:45 a.m. to form a line.
“I didn’t expect this but it’s kind of exciting,” said Peterson after the March 23 sell-out was announced. “It’s good for our team. I think for most of the people that are in this line, they feel that it stinks for them, but they’re glad for the team that they’re getting the kind of credit they deserve.”