A Craigslist ad requesting "seat-fillers" for an event Saturday night in Indianapolis has been making the rounds today. The original ad, which you can see above (click it to view it in its entirety), stated that those interested "[m]ust have red or dark green casual clothing to wear"—a requirement that has since been removed. The ad offers to pay participants $75, to validate their parking, and to grant access to the event. It does not say where the "seat-fillers" will go, or for what event, but one can't help but notice the inaugural Big Ten championship game is being held Saturday night in Indianapolis, and that Wisconsin and Michigan State—the two teams scheduled to play—happen to wear red and green, respectively. But is the ad for real?
The Big Ten swiftly denied it had any role in paying fans to go to the game. But Spencer Hall was forwarded a response that had been sent to someone who replied to the ad. This, in part, is what that response said:
Our client has asked for discretion about this opportunity, as "seat-filling" is behind-the-scenes aspect of this event production.
On the day of the event event, we will designate a parking garage and validate your parking. Seat fillers will be assigned seats inside or near the event close to the event start time. We expect fillers will need to be checked in around 6:30pm on Saturday. The event itself begins shortly after 8pm, and we expect it to conclude close to midnight. You will receive payment at the end of the evening upon turning in the paperwork given to you at the beginning of the evening.
Hall went on to add that the missive was signed as being from the "ICC," which, in all likelihood, is the Indiana Convention Center, which happens to be attached to Lucas Oil Stadium, which happens to be where the game is being played. Hall draws his own conclusion:
The Big Ten's not lying when it says it's not paying for seat-fillers, but the tempting bit of verbiage there is "our client." That client could be a number of parties: the City of Indianapolis, FOX Sports, or the B1G, who wouldn't be lying when they said they weren't paying people, but who could in theory be paying the ICC to pay people to attend the game.
I got no response when I replied to the ad. I also called the Indiana Convention Center, and a woman there told me, "We don't have any info about that" before giving me the phone number for Robert Vane. Vane had been the communications director for Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, but he left that post 12 months ago to "start his own firm specializing in crisis and strategic communications," and one of his clients is the board that operates Indianapolis's sports venues and its convention center. I left Vane two voice mail messages and have not heard back.
Our old friend Clay Travis tweeted a few hours ago that a row of eight 50-yard line, 13th-row tickets were still available on Ticketmaster's website. I made a similar inquiry via Ticketmaster and found that eight tickets could still be had at the 50-yard line in the 12th row (click to enlarge):
UPDATE: It was all a hoax.