The ad on craiglist.com was typical of rentals for the Super Bowl in San Diego: “1/2 mile from the game. Walk to the stadium!!! 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath apartment. New, clean, with washer dryer, 2 parking spaces, and wireless Internet. Wall Street Journal will be delivered Friday... $600 per night or best offer.”
But it was the note at the bottom that was the kicker:
“It's NOT OK to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests.”
“We paid $2,000 for basically a four-day weekend,” said Anthony Ruiz, a computer administrator from Phoenix, Ariz. who was staying at Mission Valley's La Mirage apartments, about a half-mile walk from the Super Bowl. Ruiz, who said he wasn't so much a Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan as a “Raider hater,” had not-so-legally sublet the two-bedroom apartment overlooking Qualcomm Stadium with a buddy who declined to give his name for this article. Ruiz had not answered any ad, however, for his stay at the Super Bowl in San Diego, which he says set him back about $5,000, including his $1,400 ticket.
“My company usually puts us up here when we're in town for business, but that's usually for two to six months at a time,” he said. “I don't think they even pay that much [$2,000] per month for these places. So we're not actually supposed to be doing what we're doing, but I had a hookup. I'm sure they make enough money off our company. I doubt anybody'll complain at the front office.”
Ruiz declined to elaborate on who or what his “hookup” was. He said there was no contract he had to sign, and he didn't push his source for details of the arrangement-like, say, legality or what to do if the management objected to the situation.
“They know it's a corporate rental,” he said confidently. “Beyond that, what do they care? We're not rowdy or Raiders fans, tearing up the place. It's cool.”
And all over San Diego, one had to assume similar deals had been struck. In the weeks preceding the Super Bowl, signs like “Rent your home for the Super Bowl” and “Superbowlrentalsvacation.com” sprung up around Mission Valley. Some, like Superbowlrentalsvacation.com were legitimate, legal rental services, but others were not.
According to the rental office at La Mirage apartments, where several San Diego Chargers players live, “renters may not sublet or otherwise rent out their apartments for any length of time.” Guests are fine, but any staying longer than seven days must notify the La Mirage rental office.
Which, in a way, left a loophole for renters like Ruiz.
“Yeah, I guess you could say... we're guests-yeah, yeah, that's it,” said Ruiz, affecting the tone of Jon Lovitz' pathological liar character from Saturday Night Live when told of the “seven-day guest requirement” in the La Mirage lease. “The, uh, regular renters-our company-are having us over for the Super Bowl. But, uh, yeah, they're out of town right now. Yeah, that's the ticket.”