How to Get Super Bowl Tickets
Super Bowl tickets aren’t like concert tickets, where you can camp out the night before and be first in line when they go on sale. And there’s no ticket website that you can refresh a thousand times per minute hoping to get lucky. The system for distributing Super Bowl tickets is closely controlled by the NFL, and the best way to get a ticket is either to be related to Tom Brady or to cough up a lot of money.
The Super Bowl is the most-watched sports event in the United States and the annual spectacle has expanded to include days of pregame concerts and special events in the host city. And ticket prices have expanded right along with it.
Tickets to the very first Super Bowl in 1967 cost an average of $10 (about $75 in 2018 money). Even by the year 2000, Super Bowl tickets were still averaging less than $500 when adjusted for inflation. But in the last decade, face-value ticket prices have risen astronomically — to a high of $3,245 in 2018 — and double or triple those prices on the secondary market [source: DePietro].
Before the 2018 NFL season, regular football fans could enter a lottery to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value. But that lottery is gone now, except for fans with disabilities [source: NFL]. Now only a lucky few season ticket holders will get a chance to buy Super Bowl tickets directly at face value, with most seats being sold at steep markups via ticket brokers. In fact, there were even fewer seats available for resale in 2019, which likely drove prices to record levels [source: Meyersohn].
Next we’ll look at how the NFL divvies up Super Bowl tickets and who has the best chance of scoring a (relatively) cheap seat to the big game.
Your best chance for buying a face-value ticket to the Super Bowl is to be a season ticket holder with an NFL team. If your team is actually playing in the Super Bowl, even better. That’s because the NFL divvies up 75 percent of all Super Bowl tickets to each team in the league using the following math:
- 17.5 percent to the AFC champion
- 17.5 percent to the NFC champion
- 5 percent to the host team
- 34.8 percent are distributed among the remaining 29 teams (1.2 percent per team)
The remaining 25.2 percent of all Super Bowl tickets are controlled by the NFL and sold to various partners, sponsors, media and networks [source: Goldberg].
Not all of the Super Bowl tickets allocated to each team are sold to season ticket holders. Many will go to players and their friends and family. The remaining tickets are put into a lottery that randomly picks a lucky season ticket holder. The lottery winners can then buy the ticket at face value, which in 2018 was between $950 per ticket for nosebleed seats to $5,000 a pop for a skybox [source: Tornoe].
Keep in mind that just because you were selected in a lottery doesn’t mean you are obligated to buy the tickets, but it’s an excellent idea. Even if you’re unable to go, you’ll almost certainly be able to re-sell the tickets for much more than you paid for them on the secondary market.
But if you’re not one of the lucky few to get chosen in random drawings, lotteries or sweepstakes, you’ll have to turn to secondhand sellers. We’ll offer some insight on how to play that game on the next page.
It should be clear at this point that getting Super Bowl tickets at face value or less is incredibly difficult. The only real option for most Super Bowl ticket buyers is to buy them online on the secondary or resale market.
Online ticket resellers like StubHub and SeatGeek work by connecting Super Bowl ticket buyers with ticket holders who want to sell. Those sellers may be individual season ticket holders who won their team’s lottery or professional ticket brokers. The website makes money by taking a cut of the sales price and sometimes charging fees.
Pricing on the secondary market is pure supply and demand. Ticket prices go up or down based on the number of tickets available and how many people want to buy them. For example, in 2018 when it looked like the Minnesota Vikings might play in the Super Bowl — becoming the first team ever to play the big game on its home field — eager Vikings’ fans caused ticket prices on the secondary market to spike before the home team lost to the Eagles [source: Roberts].
For Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, the average resale ticket price for the game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was more than $7,000 [source: Barrabi]. As of this writing, the very cheapest resale ticket on SeatGeek for Super Bowl 2020 was $4,886 and the cheapest seats listed on StubHub was going for $4,345 a piece (bring your binoculars, though). The average resale ticket price was nearly $9,000, according to MarketWatch.
There’s also a third option for deep-pocketed fans who want to lock in their Super Bowl tickets early. Announced back in 2016, the NFL has partnered with a third-party company to offer something called the NFL On Location Experience. Up to eight months before the big game, fans can buy high-end Super Bowl packages that include cheering players as they run out of the tunnel to celebrating with the winning team on field after the game [source: Rovell].
Ticket prices tend to spike right after a conference championship and fall as game day approaches, two weeks later. So, if you happen to live in or near the city where one of the championship game is played, it might be smart to wait till the very end if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet [source: Goldberg]. You just might score a relative “bargain.”
In an interesting twist, Super Bowl ticket prices on the secondary market historically get lower as game day approaches. That said, you don’t necessarily want to wait till the last minute. The other costs of travel — like airplane tickets and hotel rooms — go up dramatically the closer you get to game day.
Want to know how to get Super Bowl tickets? Visit HowStuffWorks to learn how to get Super Bowl tickets.
How many tickets is each player allocated
By Darren Rovell
Everyone knows Super Bowl tickets are a hard get. But don’t believe everything you hear at your water cooler. As of Tuesday morning, the average price of a Super Bowl ticket on the secondary market was close to $3,000. With the help of StubHub co-founder Eric Baker and chief executive Jeff Fluhr, here are the top nine myths about Super Bowl tickets
9. A cold-weather location will put a freeze on prices.
Any Pittsburgh Steelers or Seattle Seahawks fan who has actually shopped for a ticket this year knows this isn’t true. Weather might have been more of a factor than it has been in the recent past, especially given the fact there’s expected to be a sprinkling of snow this week — including on game day. But because there are so many factors that determine the ticket market, weather seemingly isn’t one of the most important ones this year.
“A lot of Seahawks fans were told that they would get to the Super Bowl when hell froze over, so I guess a little cold weather is nothing to be unhappy about,” said Baker.
This year’s biggest determining factors are tradition and location. The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in football, and their town is only 285 miles away. StubHub’s data suggests that more than 25 percent of ticket purchases on the secondary market are coming from Pennsylvania, while less than 10 percent of buyers are coming from Seattle.
Do less people want to come to Detroit? Apparently not. And don’t forget Ford Field only seats 67,500 — that’s more than 10,000 fewer seats than the number for last year’s game.
8. You have a good chance of obtaining a face-value ticket if you are a season-ticket holder of one of the Super Bowl teams.
Unfortunately, this is not true. The Super Bowl is the only championship of the four major sports for which season-ticket holders do not have the right to purchase seats. (Of course, it’s also the only one of the four played at a neutral site.) The Seattle Seahawks and the Pittsburgh Steelers are given 17.5 percent of the tickets — 11,800 seats each. Each team will give about 8,800 tickets to its fans. Meanwhile, season-ticket holders take up approximately 46,000 seats in Seattle and 50,000 seats in Pittsburgh. Better try to strike up a relationship with an executive of an NFL sponsor.
7. The NFL doesn’t make much money off Super Bowl tickets.
It is true that the league keeps 25 percent of the tickets to distribute, and that many of the people attending — especially league sponsors and corporate executives — aren’t taking money out of their own pocket. But the league is moving closer and closer to market price. Sure, the face value this year still isn’t $3,000, but the face value is now $700. That’s a far cry from the face value of $325 for Super Bowl XXXV just five years ago.
Although there’s some sentiment out there that the league doesn’t charge enough, multiple surveys have confirmed that because of the way tickets are distributed, only about one-fifth of the stadium pays more than face value for their tickets. And remember, if a broker sold a ticket for $3,000, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s making that much money.
Although there are costs associated with the game, I assure you, the league isn’t losing any money at that price. It’s making money.
6. The Internet has made it more expensive to go to the game.
Not true. It’s still a free market, but the Internet has made the marketplace transparent. Now, unlike the old days, you can discover what a ticket costs almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, many people are misguided by the outrageous prices on some sites. What they need to realize is that these tickets often aren’t being sold at these prices. It’s simply the asking price.
5. The odds of getting scammed are very low.
They might be low, but maybe not as low as you think. Last year, the Jacksonville sheriff’s office said it recovered 146 counterfeit tickets. So you figure, given the fact that there were 78,125 fans in the stadium, your odds of getting something fake are roughly .18 percent. Not bad, right?
Except that number only represents what they recovered. Also, many victims of fraud didn’t buy their tickets on the street, where the police could recover them. A lot of incidents of fraud go unreported. This year’s tickets have a black-on-black hologram that have the Super Bowl logo, the word Detroit and the game date. But remember, only the pros’ pros dabble in counterfeiting at the Super Bowl. A woman has already been charged with selling 105 fake Super Bowl XL tickets for $400 each for a profit of $42,000.
4. Once in town, the closer you get to the stadium, the better chance you have of getting tickets.
If anything, it’s the exact opposite. Scalpers know you are close, but they also know you are likely desperate. It’s also the place where they are most likely to get caught. Some of the most brisk business takes place in the downtown area near the hotels.
3. The closer it gets to game time, the cheaper it gets.
This is often true, but it is not always the case. In 2002, I held out until right before game time and snagged a ticket for $100. In 2003, the cheapest you could get at the last minute was $1,500. But average prices do fluctuate, depending on supply and demand, determining whether there will be what I like to call, “The Scalper’s Panic.”
Will the lowest price come at the last minute this year? I’m not convinced. Here is the data of the average price of a ticket sold on StubHub.com over the last month. Notice the highest price was the Monday after the teams were set.
Jan. 2: $2,200.00
Jan. 4: $2,765.00
Jan. 6: $2,499.00
Jan. 12: $2,175.00
Jan. 13: $2,525.00
Jan. 15: $2,275.00
Jan. 16: $2,275.00
Jan. 17: $2,483.00
Jan. 18: $2,621.67
Jan. 19: $2,627.00
Jan. 20: $2,214.80
Jan. 21: $2,515.00
Jan. 22: $2,734.57
Jan. 23: $3,410.94
Jan. 24: $3,020.36
Jan. 25: $2,967.38
Jan. 26: $3,010.74
Jan. 27: $3,362.92
Jan. 28: $3,311.93
Jan. 29: $2,545.85
Jan. 30: $3,295.28
2. The Super Bowl ticket is the hottest ticket in town.
The hottest tickets are usually the top parties, which might — at the most — have only a couple of hundred tickets to sell. VIP tickets to the Playboy party can be had for more than $2,500 apiece. Balcony access to the Penthouse party can be had for $1,000 each. Maxim stopped selling tickets to its party after counterfeit tickets were discovered in 2002. Try to pay your way into that one.
“There’s not one piece of paper that will get you into our party,” said publicist Lewis Kay, who noted there are about 1,000 names on the list. “We’ve been offered a lot of things, but unfortunately, we can’t be bought.”
1. No matter what the price, attending the Super Bowl is worth it.
Of course this is subjective, and depends on how much you pay and how much you value you being there, but the average Joe Fan should weigh the opportunity cost. If you don’t make it to the Super Bowl and your team wins, you are still happy. If you go to the Super Bowl and your team gets throttled, imagine how much that hurts. Not just the loss, but the fact that you could have watched the commercials and purchased a 50-inch flat screen television instead.
Is it cheaper to get Super Bowl tickets close to game time? Is the weather really a factor? Darren Rovell reveals the top nine myths about Super Bowl tickets.