COLUMBIA — Students and alumni are scrambling to find tickets and transportation to Atlanta this week to nail a seat in the Georgia Dome for Saturday's Southeastern Conference Championship game.
Sophomore Kayla Lewis bought a student ticket for $60 and is splitting costs for gas and a $25 parking pass at the dome with friends.
They are carpooling eight hours to Mississippi on Friday night to stay at the home of a friend's relative. On Saturday morning, they'll drive across the Alabama border and into Georgia, then back to Mississippi after the game ends.
Lewis said she hopes to spend less than $200 for the entire trip.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me," she said. "Since I grew up outside of Columbia, I've been attending MU football games since I was 7 years old.
"Getting to watch my hometown team come back from last year and make it all the way to the (SEC) championship is just beyond anything I could ever imagine," she said.
Matt Butler, a 1995 MU alumnus who lives in Austin, Texas, advertised on Craigslist for a ticket. He said he hopes to drive 14 hours from Austin to Atlanta and share a hotel room with MU Law School faculty member Jayme Salinardi to save money.
But he's still looking for a ticket that isn't off the charts. The average price for a single ticket on craigslist.org was about $250 on Tuesday afternoon. One ad listed a 20-ticket Luxury Skybox Suite for $25,000. It included four parking passes, a private restroom, a fridge and wet bar, various TV options and a private hostess.
"Ticket prices are ridiculous," Butler said. "It's like people are trying to put their kids through college on them."
He said the short notice makes planning more difficult. The Missouri Tigers earned a berth in the SEC Championship game Saturday after beating Texas A&M.
"Even for a bowl game, you still have two or three weeks of notice to make arrangements," Butler said. "I still really want to go, it's just looking at the reality of the amount of time, effort and money it takes to get there."
Zach Sullentrup, a sophomore at MU, was one of about 20 members of Tiger's Lair, the official student cheering section, to camp outside the MU Student Center about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday for a chance to get a package deal.
Tiger's Lair offered its members a $150 bundle that included a game ticket, bus transportation and one night in a hotel near downtown Atlanta. Bundles were sold in person starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday and were sold out by 2:30 p.m., according to the Tiger's Lair Facebook page.
"My friend and I decided it was an opportunity we didn't want to miss since it includes a hotel room, travel and a ticket," Sullentrup said. "So we rushed to get our homework done then stood in line all night."
The Mizzou Alumni Association also offered bundles for its members. Alumni could choose a $1,339 deal that included round-trip airfare and two nights in a hotel or a $649 bundle that included two nights in a hotel.
Both offers included other benefits — a Tigers tailgate, for example — but not game tickets. A ticket could be purchased separately for $100.
All bundles were sold out by 5 p.m. Monday, said Todd McCubbin, executive director of the Alumni Association.
"It's the premier way to go, but we know a lot of people are doing their own thing as far as airline miles and hotel points," he said. "Our job was to offer an option, and we did."