Published: Jan. 04, 2021

Why are Super Bowl Tickets so Expensive?

For most sports fans, attending the Super Bowl in person is an item on their bucket list. It’s something that most people will only do once, and that’s if we’re lucky. A big reason why that’s the case is that Super Bowl tickets are difficult to find and rather pricy? But why are Super Bowl tickets so expensive? Why is it so difficult to track down tickets to the Super Bowl that are reasonably priced for the average sports fan? It’s a question that pops up once a year, so let’s go digging and try to find some answers.

The NFL is in Control

The biggest reason why Super Bowl tickets are so expensive is that the NFL is in full control of how every ticket is allocated. In other words, there are no tickets available to the general public. Fans don’t have the option of going to the box office or logging onto the NFL’s website and buying tickets the way they could for any other game. This means that getting Super Bowl tickets requires an inside connection or going to the secondary market.

The two teams participating in the Super Bowl receive around 17.5% of the tickets each, which adds up to 35% of the total Super Bowl tickets. The remaining 30 teams also get a small allotment of tickets, with the host team getting around 5% of the tickets and the rest getting a little more than 1% of the total Super Bowl tickets. The NFL then distributes the remaining tickets to sponsors and other organizations with a connection to the league.

Of course, even the tickets that are distributed to teams or sponsors are purchased at face value. Naturally, the NFL decides on the face value of each ticket, which ranged from $950 to $5,000 for the Super Bowl in 2020. If those are the face value prices, any tickets that find their way onto the secondary market are likely to be even more expensive than that.

Short Supply

In addition to the NFL setting the face value of Super Bowl tickets, the laws of supply and demand contribute to the high prices. As mentioned, the two teams playing in the game each receive 17.5% of the available tickets. Each player receives two complimentary tickets and also has the option to purchase up to 13 additional tickets if they’re willing to pay face value for the tickets. Once the players have their tickets, members of the coaching staff, front office, and team employees also have the option to buy tickets at face value.

Once every player and team employee has had a chance to buy tickets, a significant portion of the team’s allotment has been used up. The team has the option to sell or give away the remaining tickets, often offering them to season-ticket holders. Technically, teams could make some of their tickets available to the general public. However, most have made promises to season-ticket holders that give them access to Super Bowl tickets.

If you’re not a friend or family member of a player, a team employee, or a season-ticket holder, your only chance for Super Bowl tickets is to find them on the secondary market. Of course, most family members will use their ticket for themselves to see their loved ones playing in the biggest game of their life. This can limit the supply of tickets available on the secondary market, which will drive up the price far beyond the face value of the ticket, which as mentioned, is anywhere from $950 to $5,000. 

The Full Experience

It’s also worth mentioning some of the other factors that drive up the demand and the price of Super Bowl tickets. Keep in mind that the game only happens once a year. While the NBA, NHL, and MLB have a seven-game championship series, the NFL playoffs are single-elimination, which means just one championship game. This makes the demand for Super Bowl tickets even higher than a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, or World Series.

Also, attending the Super Bowl means more than just going to the game. It also means seeing the extravagant halftime show live and enjoying all of the pre-game festivities, including parties and meet-and-greet opportunities with famous figures. These are the kinds of experiences that aren’t available during any other sporting event, and so the cost of a Super Bowl ticket reflects that. It also doesn’t hurt that most Super Bowls are hosted in warm-weather cities, making them all the more attractive for those who wish to attend.

When to Strike

If you’re hoping to score Super Bowl tickets that aren’t quite as expensive, patience is usually the best strategy. Most years, the price of Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market drops in the last few days before the game, particularly on the day of the game. People with tickets but no plans to attend the game will drop their price as they get a little more eager to sell before kickoff. The same is true of people who have tickets but couldn’t make travel arrangements in time to make it to the game.

Of course, no two Super Bowls are the same, and there is no guarantee that prices will fall dramatically in the last few days before the game. Also, nobody should ever expect to buy a truly “cheap” Super Bowl ticket. After all, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most sports fans. Without a personal connection to a player or team in the game, there is likely little chance of paying anything close to face value for Super Bowl tickets.

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