A trip bound to be super

Going to a Super Bowl was never one of Eric Hanson’s lifelong dreams.

It wasn’t even something he thought would ever occur – especially this year.

Nonetheless, Hanson, a UW-Whitewater senior, will not be watching Super Bowl XLV from the confines of his living room in Wisconsin.

He’ll be watching the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

So how does a college student get tickets to, arguably, the biggest sporting event of the year?

“It was just lucky coincidence,” Hanson said. “It’s kind of a weird story. I was getting my taxes done [last] Monday, and my tax guy knows some people in Dallas. He was like, ‘I think I might be able to get tickets for face value.’ They were all going for like two grand and it ended up he couldn’t get face value.”

However, this spurred Hanson’s curiosity and he began doing research on the price tag for tickets.

Hanson, of Stoughton, said he earned enough money ($2,000 for the cost of his ticket) by winning a “bunch of money” at a casino recently and by collecting almost $1,000 after selling hundreds of his bobbleheads last week.

Hanson, who is driving to the game, said he plans on leaving Friday morning for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

When he makes the 16-hour, 995-mile trip, he’ll be doing it alone – which is fine by him.

“I’m kind of glad I’m going alone because I have a lot of stuff to think about,” Hanson said. “I just had a bunch of stuff happen to me recently, so I think it will be a fun drive to be alone to reflect.”

He said he’ll reflect on the fact that his brother-in-law’s father, who lives in Dallas, is in the final stages of cancer and is struggling to walk more than 20 feet. This is also painful for Hanson because his own father died of cancer in 2004.

“Dealing with my brother-in-law’s father has brought back some bad memories,” said Hanson, who was also just fired from his job of nine years last week. “I can’t wait to get on the road. This is exactly what I need right now.”

But when he gets down to the Lone Star State, Hanson said he plans on making the most of this once-in-a-lifetime trip and will try to enjoy the present without stressing over the past.

On Hanson’s agenda leading up to the game is attending some of the pre-Super Bowl parties that occur on a nightly basis.

“Pam Anderson’s having one, and I’m probably going to go to that,” he said.

Another item on Hanson’s check list is to attend the NFL Experience at the Dallas Convention Center, which is a nine-day interactive fan experience where fans can play games, get autographs from current and former NFL stars, get a photo with the Lombardi trophy and see all the past 44 Super Bowl rings.

Hanson will stay at his brother-in-law’s father’s house, which is about 25 minutes from Cowboys Stadium.

While this is Hanson’s first Super Bowl, this is the second time he will see the Packers play in person this season.

He saw the Packers play the New York Giants on Dec. 26 in a suite at historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay – a stadium that was built in 1957.

Come Sunday, he’ll step into a stadium that is in its first year of existence and one that cost $1.2 billion to construct, and boasts a state-of-the-art 60-yard flat screen scoreboard hanging above the field.

For Hanson, however, attending famous sporting venues is nothing new.

“A couple years ago I went to Madison Square Garden, so that’s my top one now, but I’m sure the Super Bowl will beat that,” Hanson said.

Hanson, who is expected to graduate in December with an early childhood regular and special education degree, said he plans on arriving back in Whitewater the Tuesday after the Super Bowl, just in time to make his afternoon class.

But for now, though, he is still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he will watch the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger on the National Football League’s grandest stage.

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I’m actually going to the Super Bowl,” Hanson said. “I think Thursday morning or Wednesday night, when I start packing, it will really start to sink in.”

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