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Thursday, August 21, 2014         

FURTHER REVIEW | NFL SUPER BOWL XLV


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A few Hawaii fans know all too much about the road to the Super Bowl

By Dave Reardon

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There are fans, and then there are super fans. For what they invested in money, time and travel stress to be at the Super Bowl yesterday, put Dara Young of McCully and Mike and Jenn Betz of Mililani in the elite category of those willing to quite literally go the extra mile to see a big game in person.

Securing tickets is generally thought of as the hard part of a trip to the Super Bowl. But for Young and the Betzes and other fans from Hawaii, actually getting to the game itself at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, was the biggest challenge — and for the Betzes getting to their seats was even an ordeal.

Young and four of her friends flew to Houston from Honolulu, then braved icy, snowy, packed roads to North Texas.

"We'd booked a flight from Houston to Dallas, but it was canceled," said Young. "Because of the weather, what normally is a 4-hour drive took 6 hours. Everyone was driving slow, 25 mph on the freeway."

But the public relations manager from the Hilton Hawaiian Village remained optimistic the entire time. "There was never a thought in my mind that we wouldn't make it. There's always a Plan B," she said.

Young said going to a Super Bowl was "a lifelong dream." Well, at least for most of her life. "My earliest memory of football is when I was 4, watching O.J. Simpson. Football was always on TV, because that's what my dad (Harvey) had on, and I loved it."

Her favorite NFL team is the Dallas Cowboys and she's an even bigger University of Hawaii football fan, but has to restrain herself at home games because she works in the press box as official scorer on the stats crew. "That's why I like to go to the games on the road, so I can cheer wildly for UH."

Young estimates her Super Bowl trip cost $2,500. "But it was worth it; we got to see one of the best Super Bowls ever."

HIS FIRST FLIGHT from Honolulu to Dallas was canceled. It took 5 hours from parking the car to getting settled into his seat. And his team lost.

But Mike Betz, a general contractor with Charles Pankow Builders, said his first Super Bowl experience "was a blast."

"I was a little disappointed (with the final score) to be sure," said Betz, who grew up in Pittsburgh and is a lifetime Steelers fan. "But just to be at the Super Bowl was tremendous."

All told, he counts the experience as a positive — despite some patience-testing conditions.

Betz and his wife were among the fans whose seats were deemed unsafe by fire department officials early in the day. After 2 hours of dealing with lines and security, they had to wait about 3 more hours (some in alternate seating) until the original seats were finally approved for use.

During the third quarter of the game, the inconvenienced fans received forms to fill out for refunds of the total face value of their tickets, Betz said. He had paid $1,000 each for the two $600 end-zone seats, which were four rows from the top of the stadium.

Even with what amounts to a 33 percent discount on the cost of the tickets, the total cost for the trip came out to around $4,000 for the couple.

"Ah, the kids don't need to go to college that bad," he joked.

"I think I pulled off something pretty rare," Betz added. "I also went to the AFC championship game two weeks ago, the Pro Bowl last week and now the Super Bowl."

FOR SUPER FANS, no ticket is too pricey, no line too long, no road too icy.

Dara Young, though, says this was likely a once in a lifetime experience for her.

"I don't aspire to attend another Super Bowl," she said. "Just want to keep this one special, magical."

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.

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