RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan talked with reporters yesterday in the UH athletic complex.
Travel agencies bowled over
Demand is high as UH fans snap up tickets and make arrangements to attend the game
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Some travel agencies were bombarded with phone calls from University of Hawaii fans yesterday as hundreds made plans to fly to New Orleans to support the Warriors in the Sugar Bowl.
Travel packages from Honolulu to New Orleans for the New Year's Day game ranged from $2,000 to $3,500 and were going quickly, according to the major travel companies.
Hawaiian Airlines is looking at chartering an aircraft. Boyd Gaming Corp. is even looking at creating charter flights from Las Vegas to Louisiana, where it owns some casinos.
Meanwhile, season-ticket holders snapped up about 5,000 Sugar Bowl tickets yesterday. The university and the University of Georgia each have 17,500 tickets to sell.
But university officials encourage the loyal fans to get theirs before tickets go on sale to the public on Thursday.
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Ticket sales for the University of Hawaii Warriors' Bowl Championship Series game at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans were strong yesterday at the Stan Sheriff Center box office. Here, Dennis Feinberg purchased two tickets for the game.
Some isle travel agencies were slammed with phone calls and e-mails yesterday from hundreds of University of Hawaii fans wanting to go to the Sugar Bowl.
"Our phones are ringing off the hook," said Kehau Amorin, special-projects manager at Panda Travel Inc.
Scores of UH fans purchased packages for the New Year's Day game in New Orleans yesterday that ranged from $2,000 to $3,500 by some travel agencies such as Panda Travel, Regal Travel Inc. and Vacations-Hawaii.
Vacations-Hawaii sold 100 packages in 10 minutes, according to spokesman Rob Stillwell of Boyd Gaming Corp. Packages were offered at $1,999 per person, which covers airfare, game ticket and hotel.
Boyd Gaming Corp. has some hotels in Louisiana, such as Treasure Chest Casino. Some people are planning to stay at one of Boyd's other properties, Sam's Town Shreveport, located about four hours away from New Orleans.
Boyd Gaming Corp. is working on additional packages, Stillwell said, noting that it is looking into creating charter flights from Las Vegas to New Orleans.
Ray Miyashiro, president of Regal Travel, said it sold out on its first and second packages at a maximum of $2,700 and $3,500, respectively. The packages include airfare, ground transportation, hotel and ticket.
Miyashiro did not have figures available yesterday of how many packages were sold.
The first package, with United Airlines, was offered solely to in-house clients Sunday. The second package, with Northwest Airlines, was offered yesterday to the public at $3,500, an $800 increase from the day before due to a spike in hotel and air fares. "It's a demand item," Miyashiro said.
Panda Travel sold out on more than 150 packages yesterday at $2,600 each, which covers air, ticket, hotel and ground transportation. Amorin said. More than 600 rooms were blocked at five hotels within the Harrah's Casino area.
One of their first customers waited at the agency's Kapahulu Avenue office at 6:45 a.m. yesterday. Panda Travel was also bombarded with hundreds of e-mails inquiring about their packages.
Amorin said Panda is working with mainland charter companies to see if they can arrange charter flights to New Orleans. "Our goal is to take as many people as possible," she said.
Patrick Dugan of McNeil Wilson Communications said Hawaiian Airlines is also looking into whether it can charter a flight. It is traditionally the busiest time to travel, Dugan said: "They're seeing what aircraft is available."
Hawaiian Airlines is expected to know in a couple of days whether it can charter a flight. Aloha Airlines will not offer a charter because of a lack of planes, said spokesman Stu Glauberman.
While many are turning to travel agencies to arrange their trip to New Orleans, some are taking it upon themselves to make arrangements.
East Honolulu resident Ira Gordon, a 40-year fan of the Warriors, booked his flight with Delta Airlines soon after UH beat Washington Saturday night. He also made arrangements to stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel, located within a mile of the Louisiana Superdome.
Costs for the New Orleans trip fell within the $3,500 range. Gordon said he plans to split hotel costs with friend Wayne Sasaki.
Incidentally, Gordon, 61, was born in Georgia, and his wife attended the University of Georgia. When asked if he had any mixed emotions on which team to support in the Sugar Bowl, he replied, "Not at all."
Season-ticket holders start sales off on a brisk note
About 5,000 tickets to the 2008 Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans had been sold to season-ticket holders as of 6 p.m. yesterday, according to a University of Hawaii spokesman.
With the university allotted 17,500 tickets, spokesman Derek Inouchi encouraged season-ticket holders to purchase tickets as soon as possible as they are on pace to sell out by Thursday, when ticket sales open to the public.
Ticket costs range from $125 to $145. According to the Hawaii athletic department's Web site, priority is given to Koa Anuenue sport-package patrons and UH corporate sponsors, and to 22,800 season-ticket holders based on their 2007-2008 premium seat contributions for all UH sports combined.
For more information on UH ticket sales for the Sugar Bowl, go to www.hawaiiathletics.com.