COLUMBIA — While most Tiger fans were at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City on Saturday getting ready to cheer on the Tigers, I was on break in Mahwah, N.J. celebrating my 14-year-old brother’s Pop Warner Football Championship game win. As all the excitement of the celebration started to dissipate, he looked at me and said, “It’s Missouri’s turn!” In my short time spent in Columbia, I have successfully converted my brother into a Tiger fan.
When I moved to Columbia, I didn’t expect much in terms of “big time” sports, given the Tiger’s history. Let’s face it,the Tigers haven’t sniffed the No. 1 ranking since 1960 when they held it only for a week. I sensed something special after that win over Kansas. I had to go to the Big 12 Championship game to see the Tigers battle the Sooners, but how?
Being a college student like many others, I have a limited budget based on credit card debt, student loans and various other debts. I had $150 to get me to San Antonio and back, including a ticket to watch the game. The cheapest ticket I found was on Ticket Master for $39, which put me in the upper deck of the Alamodome for the game. I now would have $111 left to find transportation down and back. I didn’t worry about eating; food can come cheaply off the dollar menu or from a generous tailgating Tiger fan. Time to hunt for travel.
My search began at the official athletic Web site of the Tigers, where packages where being sold at $824 for one seat including lodging and travel or $549 if I wanted to bring a buddy or my girlfriend. I called Great Southern Travel to ask if they were going to offer any student discounts on their packages — to no avail. I laughed at the price of a package through the Alumni Association – $1,500.
I was in disbelief that there was no affordable means of transportation for students. Isn’t a No. 1 team supposed to mobilize its fans to go to big games? Surely there was a way MU could help students with an all-sports pass and loyal fans who attended every game a way to go cheer on their Tigers.
Needless to say, these prices were little more than my budget allowed. I considered renting a car, but the cost of rental and gas was going to run over $500. So I began calling my friends, looking for a ride. Two of them already had rides in full cars and the other two were saving their money and taking their chances on the Championship game in New Orleans.
I turned next to craigslist.com and found nothing. Not a single post by someone looking for a ride.
It was back to the drawing board. Next Web stop was Amtrak. I looked for a train from Jefferson City to San Antonio and found that if I cut class and left at 10:25 a.m. on Friday morning, I would get to San Antonio at 10:25 p.m. on Saturday night. The game would be well into the fourth quarter. Just in time to see Temple, Maclin and Daniel pull off a game winning flee-flicker reverse touchdown pass! The steepness of the price also made this option impossible at $268. Next I went to Greyhound thinking the bus had to be more reliable and affordable than any other forms of transit. Greyhound also let me down, $304 round trip to sit on a bus for 48 hours. This alternative would have been absolutely brutal. Could flying be the cheapest way out to see my Tigers play? I found out that it was. Southwest would fly me out to San Antonio for $256 round trip out of St. Louis. It truly was amazing to me that the cheapest way to get there and back was to fly.
I decided to ask around at the journalism institutions on campus, after all someone needs to cover the game. As I asked around, I got the general feeling that people going to cover the game were all paying their way to go, unless they were faculty members. Budgets don’t allow every journalism student to go and that’s understandable. I am going to continue to look for a way to get down there in the coming days by continuing to check blogs, craigslist.com and asking people on campus. By the way, the $39 tickets are no longer available on Ticketmaster. It’s unfortunate MU doesn’t sponsor an affordable way for students to support events related to the school. A simple e-mail to students that transportation would or would not be available would do. Better yet, hire out a bus service that allows students to sleep on the way down Friday night. I may even increase my budget to $200 if they include a ticket! But alas, I will have to settle for watching the game in the boring comfort of my apartment, far away from the live excitement of the crowd, the chanting of the MIZ-ZOU, or the thrill of winning a Big 12 Championship. No matter how hard I scream, the teams wont hear me from my home. What a lousy alternative to what was such a hopeful quest!