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The Boss may not have the same type of clout as his juniors, the Backstreet Boys, but his showing among fans at Marine Midland Arena proved impressive Saturday morning.

Within 51 minutes, tickets to Bruce Springsteen's Nov. 19 concert sold out. That was more than twice the time it took last month for the Backstreet Boys' upcoming Nov. 14 concert to sell out.

But unlike the many adolescent Backstreet Boys fans who had stood in line for hours and never got close to the arena box office before tickets ran out and tears of anguish flowed, all of the 300 Springsteen fans who showed up with hungry hearts departed sated.

A handful of tickets even were left over for scalpers to snatch up at the 20,000-seat arena before blinds on the ticket windows snapped shut at 9:51 a.m.

Greg Barrow, an arena security guard, was pleased that fans and not the scalpers largely had first crack at the tickets.

"The new system of distributing handbills ahead of time really helped cut down on scalpers buying up the tickets," Barrow said.

Handbills, which amount to a pass to wait in line for a ticket, were available starting Tuesday. Fans had to sign for the handbills and had to be prepared to provide identification Saturday to prove they, in fact, were the person who had obtained the handbill.

That was an added precaution to squeeze out scalpers who often hire people to stand in line and buy tickets to be sold later at higher prices.

The handbills were also numbered, and at 8:30 a.m. a drawing was held to determine who would be first in line.

Gary Robinson, 19, of Buffalo, was the winner.

Well, at least for a few minutes.

He forgot to bring identification.

"We're not going to sell tickets without identification," Stan Makowski, the arena's senior director of facilities, told Robinson.

"I never even thought to bring identification. But hey, it happens," said Robinson, who shrugged and left empty-handed.

Robinson's misfortune was South Buffalo resident Maureen Keane's good fortune.

"I'm kind of shocked. I'm extremely happy," said the 34-year-old Keane, who stepped to the front of the line with handbill No. 126.

After some shuffling, the order of the line was set, and Roxanne Cameron was last with handbill No. 123.

"Whoever had No. 124 isn't here," said the 46-year-old Hamilton, Ont., woman, who was uneasy at being last in line.

But as the line shortened and it became evident everyone would get tickets, relieved fans began agreeing the new system appeared fair and reasonable.

"This is a civil way of doing things, and it keeps the scalpers at bay," said Dan Judd, 42, of Hamburg.

The new system also eliminated the need for fans to camp out days in advance for tickets, as was the case for the Backstreet Boys.

"We waited for two nights to get tickets for the Backstreet Boys. It was too much," said Nina Hennigan of Eden, recalling the effort she made to obtain concert tickets for her 9-year-old daughter, Chelsea.

Chelsea returned the favor and kept her mother company waiting in line for Springsteen tickets, but Saturday's wait was only a couple hours.

"Who is he anyway?" Chelsea asked, referring to the rock icon who began performing 16 years before she was born.

"He sang 'Born in the U.S.A.' ," Hennigan responded.

"I never heard of it," Chelsea answered.

The child was probably the only one in line unfamiliar with the famous Springsteen song.

"I have a suggestion. They should pump Bruce Springsteen music into the lobby here. That would make the wait more enjoyable," said Sue Cushman, a 39-year-old fan from Orchard Park. "We saw this same show in Boston, and it was great. I've seen Springsteen six times now."

She says she never wearies of his primordial, high-energy rock 'n' rock.

"It's Bruce juice," explained 41-year-old Mike Milton of Lancaster, standing next in line to Cushman. "He's great. He's highly energized."

Springsteen fans also jammed telephone lines and got on the Internet to buy tickets.

"My husband, Jack, hit redial on our telephone, we estimate, 3,400 times over the space of one hour and 50 minutes. Every two seconds he hit redial and was able to finally get through and buy two tickets," said Pam Hickey of Lakewood, who expressed amazement at her 51-year-old husband's devotion to Springsteen.

And will Hickey take his wife to the concert?

"He's taking a friend because I don't like Springsteen. He thinks I'm crazy for not going," Pam Hickey said and laughed.

The most devout of Springsteen fans undoubtedly would agree she just doesn't get it when it comes to the Boss and his E Street Band.

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