INDIANAPOLIS -- Someone may have to pinch Jeff Poplarski Thursday night as he boards a plane bound for Indianapolis.
The Amityville sports chiropractor didn't hold out much hope of getting to the Super Bowl easily or cheaply this year -- until his brother Greg Poplarski called from Indianapolis earlier to say he was a finalist in a contest to win two free tickets.
While he waited for the final word, Jeff Poplarski's sister-in-law booked plane reservations, just in case. Greg won the tickets. The flight to Indianapolis was free, compliments of frequent flier mileage. Jeff will be staying through the weekend at his brother's house 15 miles outside of town, in Carmel, Ind.
"I'm going to the Super Bowl and I haven't taken a dollar out of my pocket," said Jeff Poplarski, who lives in Massapequa.
His case is anything but the norm. Those who can still get tickets to the Giants-Patriots showdown Sunday are paying anywhere from $2,200 to $17,000, while last-minute flights, if available, are said to cost upward of $2,000. Hotel rooms aren't available within three hours of the city.
Some Giants fans hopeful of getting to the game, or just soaking up the ambience, walked the streets of Indianapolis Wednesday. Bill Shaffer, of Farmingdale, N.J., drove the 11-hour trip to see whether he could buy a ticket before Sunday morning. "If I can find a single ticket that isn't going to get me divorced, I'm going," he said. His limit is around $1,000.
Dave DeStevens, a three-decade Giants fan from upstate Panama, walked the Super Bowl Village in shorts and an Eli Manning jersey. He doesn't have tickets to Sunday's game and is planning to leave Friday to catch the game at home. "I really enjoy the ambience of it," said DeStevens, who was in Phoenix in 2008 for the Giants' Super Bowl but didn't attend the game.
Jeff Poplarski, the Long Islander, said he had every intention of going to Indianapolis this weekend, and trying his luck to get tickets, even if he had to drive. He and his brother are sports fanatics, and he has attended several Super Bowls, Indy 500s, Kentucky Derbys, PGA golf finals, basketball playoffs and more.
"I'm just completely nuts with sports," said Jeff Poplarski, a wellness director for the U.S. Golf Association. "I was going no matter what."
The VIP treatment from his brother was a belated 50th birthday gift, said Poplarski, who turned 51 on Jan. 3. Greg, who works for Allianz Bank in Indianapolis, was entered in the raffle after booking a Super Bowl event at a restaurant owned by Colts owner Jim Irsay.
When their luck runs this well, the Poplarski brothers have a tendency to credit the influence of their mom, who died in recent years. "Yup, that was Mom," Jeff Poplarski said.
His brother concurred.