Beyond the Boxscore
Party pimps weep: A glut of Super Bowl parties leads to deep discounts & Grouponshame
The guy comes out of nowhere and he's moving fast, brought on by the sight of someone who might have cash. Your first instinct is to step back, but he's too determined for that.
"Psst, dude, you want to party with Terrell Owens," the guys says. "I can get you two, no four, tickets to Terrell's party. TO dude! How many you want? Come on."
It's a scene that sounds like it should happen in a Dallas back alley. Instead, it occurs in the brightly lit hallway of a nice hotel — and it's happening all over North Texas. If you're staying in a hotel with Super Bowl aspirations — and almost every hotel in the Metroplex fancies itself as one of the Super Bowl hotels, complete with red, white and blue balloons, official XLV signage and a souvenir stand in the middle of the lobby — chances are that you've been pulled aside by someone offering you an unbelievable discount on tickets to the hottest Super Bowl parties.
Deals so good that P Diddy himself would slap you over the head, if you turned them down. Seriously, P Diddy is scheduled to make an appearance at this party and he wants you to attend, the hallway salesman barks. So what if you've never meet Sean Combs. He's Diddy. He's clairvoyant and shit like that.
Besides Hallway Joe can see in your Brooks Brother pullover that you'd be perfect for a Diddy party. Or a TO one. "You know how many hot women show up at a TO party," the party pimp preaches. "Just think of the runoff."
Welcome to the real action of Super Bowl XLV, the desperate attempt to unload an unexpected surplus of high-priced party tickets.
"Some guy asked me if I wanted to buy a couple of tickets to TO's party," Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten says, laughing during an appearance at the NFL Experience fanfest.
You can't fault a party pimp for trying. It's an icy market this week for all but the holiest of Super Bowl bashes — those being Playboy, Maxim and super agent Leigh Steinberg's 25th-annual and allegedly last Super Bowl party ever — an all-day and Saturday-night affair with a Western theme.
With more than 140 high-dollar parties — most packed into the final three nights before the game — scheduled for this Super Bowl week, the market's been glutted. It turns out that even Dallas cannot lose its mind quite this much.
As a result, some celebrities are suffering debilitating pride injuries. KISS frontman/reality TV star Gene Simmons saw tickets to his Wednesday night party (for the troops no less) get reduced from their $400-500 original price to $100 for people purchasing day of. Simmons blamed it on the ice.
Even if a different type of storm is mostly at play here.
"Dallas saturated the market with way too many parties," says Pat Ryan, co-owner of The Ticket Experience, a Houston-based ticket broker that sells Super Bowl party passes as well. "There are too many groups and celebrities with their own party."
Which is one of the reasons why anyone staying in a Super Bowl hotel finds a host of cards shoved under their door daily. Some of these are intent on proving those reports of a stripper shortage that terrorized the Dallas area were greatly exaggerated. But there are also plenty touting XLV parties. Every time you come back to your room, it's like you walked the Las Vegas Strip. (Who knew that paper flyers were still so necessary in the Internet age?)
Heck, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger probably found out about that piano bar that's become the star of Super Bowl week when someone pushed its ad under his door. And really, at that point, how could he resist?
Mainstream porn star Jesse Jane's people blanketed cars in a three different parkings lots — a hotel, a foodie-loved restaurant and a store — I visited in one 36-hour span. All to push her "Everything's Bigger In Texas" bash, which was held at urban professionals hotspot Manhattan Lounge and competed with party dollars with events like Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's tirelessly self-promoted blowout with Usher.
And yet, it ended up stuck on hundreds of car windows. I didn't see TO's party on my window. But it might end up someplace even more embarrassing to the ex-Cowboys receiver who still pictures himself as something of the mayor of Dallas. On Groupon.
Yes, the deep discount deal-of-the-day website.
"This is the first year where I've seen Super Bowl parties offered on Groupon," Ryan says. "They're desperate to unload some of that (ticket) inventory."
Oh, the elite of the elite parties are as in demand as ever. Ryan says it will cost the regular high-roller around $2000 to get into the Maxim party, $1300 for the Playboy and $500 for Steinberg's more family-friendly extravaganza. And that's if you can find a broker with the connections to secure tickets to those coveted invite-only affairs.
Michael Vick's Friday night party at Deux Lounge is also gaining more and more buzz. But that's mostly because the NFL insisted on having its own security at the bash and the club owner elected to bring in off-duty SWAT members as well. All so someone doesn't get shot again and put Vick's entire future in jeopardy. Those are the exceptions though.
It turns out that a funny thing's happened with this gluttony of parties. The Super Bowl consumer has wised up. Now, big-dollars parties that promise the appearance of a celebrity are regarded skeptically. Years of celebs like P Diddy rolling into one of their parties to make one cursory stroll around the club, only to immediately retreat into the VIP section, never to be seen by the plebs who forked over $500 for the privilege, seem to have changed attitudes.
Suddenly, many Super Bowl parties are a buyer's market.
Even model/actress/blonde Brooklyn Decker — who can get into any party on the planet she wants without paying a dime — doesn't seem to be feeling the Dallas scene.
"I'm really not much of a party girl," Decker says. "I'm more of a homebody. Unless it's Andy Roddick's party."
Yes, Decker's tennis star husband is hosting a Friday night Super Bowl bash for GQ. Look for it on your windshield soon?
Or, maybe it will become the latest inventory for one of XLV's hotel hallway party pimps. "Psst, over here dude. By the ice machine. This one is an unbelievable deal ..."