When the Eagles punched their ticket to the NFC Championship game last weekend, Joe Ambrosino was so excited that he immediately went online to search for tickets to the game. Ambrosino, who has been an Eagles fan for more than 40 years, knew he would not be missing this game under any circumstance. He asked his husband, Steve Wandishin, if he wanted to come along.
That was when Ambrosino's troubles began.
In his jubilation, he had forgotten that Wandishin had purchased tickets months ago for the last Philly performance, on Sunday, of Les Misérables at the Academy of Music. Curtain time is 6:30 p.m. Kickoff for the Eagles game is scheduled for 6:40 p.m.
Wandishin had splurged on box seats. "It wasn't even a question for him," Ambrosino said. "He just looked at me and said, 'We're going to see Les Mis.' And my first reaction was, 'Screw it, I'm going to get divorced.'"
Every Philadelphia sports fan is acutely aware that the last time the Eagles went to the NFC Championship was in 2009, where they fell to the Cardinals. Nine years later, the city is waiting with bated breath to see if Sunday ends in joy or heartbreak. That means that Eagles fans with Sunday evening plans are having to make some hard choices.
Ambrosino, who is a music teacher at the Wilmington Montessori School, came up with a very expensive solution to solve his problems. He dropped $998 on StubHub for a pair of tickets to the all-but sold-out Friday evening performance of Les Mis. It's a pretty steep price to pay for a Sunday evening spent in front of the television, but Ambrosino decided it was worth it. "I would've loved to spend that $1,000 on Eagles tickets instead," he said. "But it's more important to keep the peace."
Les Misérables isn't the only event that conflicts with the Eagles game Sunday night. The Arden Theatre Company is preparing for a performance of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. As of Wednesday, the Arden said that the 7 p.m. show on Sunday is only half-full and that multiple audience members had requested ticket exchanges.
The Wells Fargo Center is hosting Lana Del Rey at 8 p.m. on game day, and her fans who bleed Eagles green aren't thrilled about it. On her Facebook fan page and her Twitter feed, they've been begging her to reschedule. (Sorry, Lana fans, the Wells Fargo Center says that's not going to happen.)
Paul Viggiano, a communications lecturer at La Salle University, bought tickets to the concert for his 13-year-old daughter, Sophia, as an early Valentine's Day present. He said that she was an ardent fan who knows all of Del Rey's songs.
"I promised to take her, and then my wife said to me, 'You do know that the Eagles are playing the same night as the concert, right?'" he said. "And I looked at the calendar and said, 'Oh, my God, I never thought the Eagles would still be playing at this point.'"
Viggiano was born in South Philly and grew up watching games with his father. Despite his disappointment, he said that he can't break his promise to his daughter. He plans to DVR the game, turn his phone off during the concert, and rush home immediately to watch it after. He realizes this is a high-risk maneuver with a stadium full of fans across the way at the Linc whose post-game faces could give away the ending.
Wells Fargo will show the game in the Cure Club before the show, and concert-goers with suite seating will be able to watch the game on one of the TVs in their boxes if they choose.
At the Kimmel Center, which handles the box office for the Academy of Music, spokeswoman Leslie Tyler said she hadn't heard of any Eagles fans calling in requests for game-day ticket exchanges for Les Mis. The academy expects a full house on Sunday evening despite the game.
Including, in Parquet Circle, Section E, Row W, Seats 101 and 102, Birds fan Maryanne Vetrone and her daughter Annie. (If the last name rings a Philly sports bell, it's because they're the wife and daughter of longtime Daily News sports-stats fanatic Bob "Boop" Vetrone Jr.)
Maryanne Vetrone faced a similar dilemma to Ambrosino's. In November, she purchased Sunday evening tickets to Les Misérables as a Christmas present for Annie, anticipating an exciting evening at the theater.
"When I first found out that the game would conflict with Les Mis, I thought, 'Oh, crap,'" Vetrone said. "I didn't want to bring up the conflict with my daughter either, because she doesn't care about the game and the tickets were a present."
Vetrone went online to see if she could exchange the tickets for a different show through the Kimmel Center, but no luck. She checked StubHub but found that the few tickets being offered for other shows were ridiculously expensive and far away from the stage.
Eventually, she resigned herself to the idea of checking her phone during intermission for the score.