After proud Bay Area fans congratulated the 49ers on winning Sunday's playoff game against the Carolina Panthers and securing a place in the NFC Championship, the Seahawks website announced that tickets for the game will not be sold to residents of California.
Instead, California-based fans who want to buy tickets for the Jan. 19 game at CenturyLink Field will have to go through secondary websites, such as the NFL Ticket Exchange and StubHub.
The move is rare, but not unheard of. The Denver Broncos are doing the same thing before they play the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, limiting sales through their websites to customers in the Rocky Mountain region.
Californians aren't the only ones shut out. Most of the rest of the country can't buy NFC Championship tickets, either. The only states where residents can buy the NFC Championship Game tickets through the Seahwawks website are: Idaho, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Alaska and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, the website reported. The team is tracking state residency by credit cards, tracked by billing address zip codes.
According to the Seattle Times, the move is "an attempt to keep the tickets in the hands of local fans." Some local sports experts said that this move isn't as big a deal as many are making of it, mostly because at this point in the season, there are only a fraction of tickets left for 49ers fans to buy anway.
“I think what we’re talking about is gamesmanship,” said StubHub’s Glenn Lehrman. “They are trying to preserve this 12th Man.”
The 12th Man is name given to the Seattle fans that have been known to cheer loud enough that it literally shakes the earth and registers as an earthquake.
Still, one disappointed 49ers fan, Arlene Illa, told NBC Bay Area she thought the Seahawks' move was wrong. She wanted to know why San Francisco fans were being forced to pay more through the secondary market.
Larry Martinez, another Bay Area fan, said he will have someone in Seattle purchase his tickets. Martinez wanted to let Seattle fans know, "We are coming and we will find a ticket."
Although an unusual choice by the team, the Seahawks wanted to give priority to their fans.
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A few thousand tickets went on sale at the stadium in Seattle Monday morning and sold out within minutes. At last check, the cheapest tickets on StubHub were about $450.
For its part, the NFL says it has no issue with the policy, saying only that rules for ticket sales are set by teams.
“One can hardly blame them though,” 49ers fan Burt Weinstein said. “If they can get away with it, why not?”