Calgary priest skips Sunday church after scoring Super Bowl tickets

Calgary's Peter Rougas, who is a parish priest at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, is skipping church this Sunday to fulfill a life-long dream — to see his team play in the Super Bowl.

'At the bottom line, it's the Super Bowl, so if you have an opportunity, you go'

The Atlanta Falcons look for their first NFL championship title on Sunday, while the New England Patriots seek their fifth. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports/Reuters)

A Calgary Greek Orthodox Priest and his buddy Ben walk into NRG Stadium.

It's not the beginning of a bad joke, it's the beginning of a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Peter Rougas. 

Rougas has been a fan of the NFL and New England Patriots for more than 20 years, and this weekend he's heading to Houston to watch his team face off against the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl.

"I've never seen my team play, I've never seen Tom Brady play, I've never been to Gillette stadium in Foxborough to watch them play, so this opportunity came up and I said, 'make it happen,'" he said on the Calgary Eyeopener Friday.

Sundays are usually busy for Rougas, who is a parish priest at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, but the rabid football fan says he still finds time to watch every Sunday game, with a little help from his PVR.

He said by Tuesday or Wednesday, he's caught up on all the plays.

Wait list priority

Despite living in Calgary, Rougas has been on the waiting list for Patriots' season tickets for more than 13 years. He was informed by email that being on the wait list granted him priority access for tickets to the big game. 

"I assumed it was just a lottery like most playoff games are, so I logged into the system, selected two seats randomly, hit the checkout button and there was the full price for tickets," he said.

The top-tier tickets — 10 rows up at the 50 yard line — were a little out of Rougas' price range at over $14,800 per seat. He said the cheapest seats he saw online were still upwards of $3,000.

'If you have the opportunity, you go'

After buying the tickets, Rougas said it took him 50 phone calls to find a hotel in Houston. He finally found one, a two-star hotel in the city that upped its price to take advantage of the Super Bowl crowds.

Rougas said, despite the costs, he was determined to go.

"The prices are expensive as is, however most of the tickets are bought on the secondary market, so they are inflated two, three times more than what they are actually worth," he said. "But because I was able to get them directly through the NFL Experience, it's a little more manageable."

"At the bottom line, it's the Super Bowl, so if you have an opportunity, you go."​

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.