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Fans Peeved As Stanley Cup Sold Out

June 1, 1999

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Fans who had waited all night in the rain rammed a glass door today at the Buffalo Sabres’ arena after being told tickets to the Stanley Cup finals were sold out in eight minutes.

``Hell no, we won’t go!″ fans shouted after learning no more tickets were left for the Sabres’ first appearance in the finals since 1975.

Two fans picked up a metal barricade and rammed it into a locked glass door at Marine Midland Arena as workers and security officers waited for police.

A burst of rain dispersed much of the crowd after a few tense moments, but others parked themselves on lawn chairs outside the arena, where they insisted they would stay.

``I just wanted a seat,″ said Rob Blaser, who arrived at the arena at 9 p.m. Monday while the Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs were still playing their fifth and final game of the Eastern Conference finals. Buffalo won 4-2, eliminating Toronto four games to one.

The chance to see the Sabres brought Adam Becker and his sister, Amanda, to the arena about 7:00 p.m. Monday.

``It was pretty cold after a while,″ said Becker, who was upset with fliers indicating they could still buy the tickets with a nonrefundable $500 deposit toward the purchase of season tickets for next year.

``It’s just a marketing scheme so they’re guaranteed to sell out next year,″ Becker said.

Ron Bertovich, the Sabres’ executive vice president of administration, said the team had reserved 200 to 300 tickets for that purpose. Season-ticket holders are guaranteed a chance to buy playoff tickets.

``If you commit now for a season ticket for next year you can enjoy that benefit immediately,″ Bertovich said.

Bertovich said 14,000 tickets for each game of the finals were bought in advance by season ticket holders and fans who purchased 10-packs of tickets for the regular season.

About 2,000 other tickets went to the National Hockey League, competing teams and ownership, and 300 more were lost to an auxiliary press box, he said. That left about 2,000 tickets per game for the general public, available at the box office and through Tops supermarkets, an Internet site, and by phone.

About 590 tickets sold in the first minute, Bertovich said.

``We wanted to put tickets in as many people’s hands as possible,″ he said. ``There was a small quantity for the level of interest.″

Scott Schappert was one of a group of newly graduated St. Francis High School students willing to wait all night to spend his graduation money on tickets.

``They knew we weren’t going to get tickets and they let us stay here overnight,″ said Schappert, wet from the rain.

Mike Szpylman, 16, and 20-year-old friend Tony Failla spent 14 hours in line, only to be shut out.

``I’ve been waiting my whole life to go to a Stanley Cup final,″ Szpylman said.

``I don’t believe this,″ Failla added. ``I want to die.″

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