CHICAGO, AP — A man who spent $8.50 apiece in 1984 on a pair of tickets to Michael Jordan’s NBA debut with the Chicago Bulls has sold one at auction for $468,000.
Michael Cole bought the tickets 38 years ago when he was a student at Northwestern University. He couldn’t find anyone to join him for the October 26, 1984 game at the Old Chicago Stadium, the former home of the Bulls, so one of the tickets went unused.
“I’m incredibly excited about the outcome and in some ways relieved that it’s over,” Cole, now 55, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Cole collected both tickets at will, using one to attend the game while taking the other home to stick in a folder. Heritage Auctions, which held the sale on Sunday, said it was the only known undamaged ticket from the debut of Jordan, arguably the greatest player in NBA history.
But the massive sale wasn’t even the largest amount paid for a sporting event ticket that day, according to Robert Wilonsky of Heritage Auctions. That accolade went to the sale of a ticket to Jackie Robinson’s 1947 debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers, which grossed $480,000.
Wilonsky said that in the era of online tickets where all people have to do is show up with the virtual tickets on their phones to enter arenas and stadiums, ticketing is a very different time.
“People don’t know what it’s like to have a paper ticket in their hands, to keep it in their wallet, to keep it forever,” he said.
And Cole said he’s not about to totally let go of a feeling that those whose tickets are locked in their phones just can’t know. He said he always tries to print tickets whenever he can.
“I don’t find it as nice of that cool feeling of holding a paper ticket in your hand,” Cole said.