I had snuck into three World Series Games, a Wimbledon Final, and “The Game of the Century” in college football. I would go on to sneak into the Super Bowl. But at Scottrade Center on this date seven years ago, everything went wrong.
My brother and I had tickets to a sold-out, Saturday night, Blues-Sabres game. Bruce, my friend at Mizzou, was from Buffalo and wanted to see his hometown team, too.
I gave him my ticket and told him to go inside and navigate to a set of exit-only doors across from Section 108. I had done the same thing a year earlier, with a different friend, before a game against Chicago. It had worked perfectly.
I went to those same doors and stood outside to wait for Bruce. He arrived soon after and opened them. I stepped inside. We turned to run up a nearby staircase, but a security guard was standing on the first step. He grabbed me by the shoulder.
I yelled at Bruce, “Run!” He could have eluded the guard’s other hand and sprinted up the staircase. At least one of us would have made it.
The guard said, “Stop right there.” Bruce froze on the first step.
The guard pushed open the door and shoved me out. He made Bruce surrender his ticket, then pushed him out, too. We crossed the street with our heads hanging.
“Dude, I’m so sorry,” I said. “I want you to know: I’m downright ashamed of myself.”
“Nah, don’t worry about it, I agreed to do it. Let’s just grab a couple tickets and enjoy the game.”
The game began, the scalpers became desperate to unload their inventory, and they lowered their prices. We bought two standing-room-only tickets, but we sat in the row of our original tickets, next to Connor. It didn’t cross my mind that we should have sat somewhere else — until I saw that same security guard climbing the steps toward our seats.
“We should be fine,” I whispered to Bruce. “We have legitimate tickets. I guess he kept your previous ticket and decided to check this row? I don’t get this.”
“You’re off your game, Trev.”
The guard got to our seats and said to follow him. We did, into the concourse, where two additional guards and a supervisor surrounded us.
They were taking us to the police room, which contained a small holding cell. From the escalator, I could see the lower-level concourse. If we ran as soon as we hit the bottom, we could climb a small maintenance staircase that led to a door that would take us outside. But we hadn’t done anything wrong — at least, not since we got busted the first time and were correspondingly punished.
We got to the police room. “Guys,” I said before anyone else could speak, “I admit it: We tried to sneak in before. But then we bought legal tickets.” I showed them to the supervisor, whom I recognized from when I worked there. He didn’t seem to recognize me.
“You were told not to come back tonight,” the supervisor said.
“No sir, that’s not true. We were never told we couldn’t come back.”
Luckily, the original guard spoke up: “He’s right. I said something like, ‘Have a good night, guys.’”
“Alright. Well, look, here’s the deal,” the supervisor said. “Leave now, don’t try to come back, and we won’t get the cops involved.”
Part of me was proud of my former coworkers (I had worked at Scottrade Center as an usher and ticket taker for two years during high school). They were the first to thwart one of my sneak attempts. They had the doors covered, and they followed up by checking the seat on the confiscated ticket. They deserved more credit than I had given them.
But I sat quietly, with a scowl on my face, as Bruce and I watched the rest of the game at a bar across the street.
I had let him down. I was pissed at myself. I had gotten careless. I didn’t tell Bruce to look around before opening the door for me. I forgot the security guard had Bruce’s ticket and would know to check that seat. I figured my knowledge of the arena would make it an easy spin, and I hadn’t bothered to bring my A-Game.
I needed to find my A-Game — fast. Getting caught at a regular season hockey game by arena security was one thing. But getting caught at the Super Bowl, two weeks later, by Homeland Security would be another.
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love my book, Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together. It’s available on Amazon, HERE.