If you have a ticket for when Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Gillette Stadium to face Bill Belichick’s New England Patriots in October, you might have the best regular season ticket in Boston sports history.
Jim Holzman, longtime owner, president and CEO of Ace Ticket, can’t remember anything ever resembling the demand he’s seen for the Week 4 game set to broadcast on “Sunday Night Football.”
“Ticket demand has been insane,” Holzman recently told NESN.com. “It’s unusual to have a big event five months in advance. Usually you have a Super Bowl or a playoff or something, but not like this. This is unprecedented, that you have an event so big this far away.”
Holzman acknowledged how Ace Ticket had already sold one ticket for as much as $5,000. And Ace Ticket actually make another sale for one ticket at nearly the same amount. Those seats, of note, were located in the second row at the 50-yard line. The get-in price at Ace Ticket is closer to $1,000 while there currently is a listing for $7,712, as well.
The reasoning behind the demand, according to Holzman, is twofold.
First and foremost is the obvious: Football fans want to watch a 44-year-old Brady go up against the head coach who didn’t want to bring him back despite 20 years of excellence. The Brady-Belichick debate picked up steam (or, for some, was put to rest) during Brady’s Super Bowl-winning season in Tampa Bay, and there are many who think this single matchup could be the final accomplishment for the seven-time champion.
The other reason? That’s simple, too.
People want to get out. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many to hunker down in their homes. No going out to dinner. No going out to the movies. No getting together with friends. And no going to sporting events.
Restrictions seemingly are being lifted and a new normal isn’t too far away, right? Well, that has crept into the mind of many when they see this outdoor game in October. As Holzman put it, nobody is buying Patriots-Buccaneers tickets with COVID-19 on their mind.
“The big marquee events right now are just huge. Las Vegas Raiders games are $800 for any ticket,” Holzman said. “The demand is out-stripping supply, and I don’t think it has even started yet. I don’t. I think the more people get vaccinated, they want to go out. They think ‘I haven’t gone to a game in X amount of time, I want to go.’
“The economists have been saying for months now there’s going to be pent-up demand. People just think it’s time to go to things and live again,” Holzman said. “So, I think that is fueling this. And then you have, really unbelievably, the stars kind of lining up (with Brady coming to Gillette).”
And then there’s the historical record Brady could set during that Week 4 contest. Brady, as mentioned by 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Scott Zolak, could set the NFL record for passing yards right around Week 4. Brady currently trails the recently-retired Drew Brees by 1,154 yards. Essentially, it means if Brady averages 300 yards per game during the first three weeks, he would only need 254 yards against the Patriots. It’s not that far-fetched.
Holzman seemed fairly confident that hadn’t crept into anyone’s mind who already had purchased seats, but could it down the road?
“The question is does it get even 10 times bigger than this? I don’t know. It’s hard to say,” Holzman said. “But it seems every single person wants to go. That’s what I do know. And if you’re fortunate enough to have seats, you’re probably not going to want to give them up.”
Fortunately for those in the industry, as well as those wanting to see a good game at Gillette this fall, the Patriots don’t play just the Buccaneers. New England also will host the New Orleans Saints Week 3, the Dallas Cowboys Week 6 and a good Cleveland Browns team Week 10. (You can view the Patriots’ full schedule here.)
It prompted Holzman to make a rather bold declaration.
“I think it’s the greatest schedule ever,” Holzman said. “You have nine games, and instead of having an exhibition game, you have the Dallas Cowboys. In the ticket world that’s a trade even (Celtics president of basketball operations Danny) Ainge and Belichick couldn’t pull off.”
But the reality is that while the Cowboys may be every other team’s biggest home game of the season — they’re still referred to as “America’s Team” after all — that’s not the case for the Patriots this time around. Holzman compared it to one betting man winning $10 million dollars while another across the table just won $150 million.
“The whole season is being overshadowed by that (Buccaneers) game,” Holzman said.
Now it’s just about deciding whether you want to be there, or miss potentially the best regular season game in franchise history.