- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Redskins fans are scrambling to book flights, hotels and precious stadium seats as they plan the approximately 3,000-mile trek to Seattle for Saturday’s playoff game against the Seahawks.

Fairfax resident Jeff Howell, who was in Tampa, Fla., for Saturday’s win over the Buccaneers, didn’t think he would shell out more cash to see the Redskins battle the Seahawks in person.

But then a friend “put more pressure on me than the Redskins defense so I broke down and decided to go,” said Mr. Howell, who purchased two lower-level seats on the 35-yard line for $810 on EBay early yesterday.

Tickets for the game, which is officially sold out, range in face value from $55 to $350. On EBay, a pair of tickets on the 50-yard line were selling for $750, while a pair of club seats were priced at $900.

“Because I wavered, we couldn’t be choosy with seats on the planes and I probably cost us a few extra bucks, but we were still able to keep it under $1,000 for the trip,” Mr. Howell said, adding that his friends booked flights and a two-night stay for $536 apiece. “We’re going with the team as far as they take us now.”

Omega World Travel, the official Redskins travel agency, said fans started calling about its away-game packages — including airfare and a hotel stay — immediately after the Tampa game.

The packages, based on double occupancy, ranged from $507 per person for round-trip airfare and a stay at a moderately priced hotel to $736 per person for airfare and a five-star hotel, manager Leslie Gearhart said.

Ms. Gearhart, who said her Fairfax agency has been inundated with calls from Redskins fans, couldn’t estimate how many reservations have been made “because I haven’t had time to count everybody.”

“We have a few packages left at moderate price ranges,” she said. “When I say ‘few,’ I can count them on two hands.”

Fans who didn’t book by yesterday afternoon will face significantly higher prices, she said.

Orbitz, the online travel broker, offered several deals for a flight and hotel stay in Seattle, ranging from $530 per person at the two-star Space Needle Travelodge to $733 at the four-star W Hotel. Prices could vary on the departure city and length of stay.

“This is a busy weekend in Seattle,” said Dave Blandford, spokesman for Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city’s hotels are nearly booked solid this weekend, he said, adding that Martin Luther King Jr. Day could be attracting vacationers looking forward to a three-day weekend.

The bureau has only logged a few calls from Redskins fans, he said.

Annapolis resident Jan Power bought a seat on the 40-yard line that she found on a Redskins fan message board Monday night. Mrs. Power, who went to Tampa last weekend, wouldn’t say how much she paid for the ticket.

“Let me just put it this way: I have spent as much through brokers for regular season Redskins games last year,” she said. “The opposite side of the coin is, I feel like if I don’t go, I feel like I’ll be sorry for the rest of my life.”

Mr. Howell agreed.

“Redskins rain poncho is $8, the Space Needle $20, but seeing the Redskins in person is priceless,” he said.

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