It is the most watched sporting event in America and you can watch it from the comfort of your home or with thousands of your closest friends. Nothing rivals the in-person Super Bowl experience. So, do you have your ticket ready?
Probably not, unless you are one of those fortunate few who can afford it, have connections, or thought to plan ahead for your team to be there a year in advance. Super Bowl XLIII tickets are being sold at astronomically high prices. At the very beginning of distribution, when the NFL released the tickets, they cost less than $1,000. After being put through the distribution process, however, they soar to an average of over $4,000 a piece with a price approaching $20,000. For one ticket! So how did it get so out of control? What happens between the tickets being printed and landing on an auction site for $20,000?
Regardless of where the big game is being played and how many seats are available the tickets are distributed the same way every year. This guide to how Super Bowl tickets are distributed is not site specific and does not provide details as to how many seats are available so it will be useful every year until the system is changed. In the particular year this is being written, 2009, the host stadium is Raymond James in Tampa Bay, but tailoring the guide to one specific stadium would be useless for future readers.
Average Joe, like you and me, has a shot at obtaining some tickets a full year before they even know which teams will be competing. They can submit their name to a random drawing between February 1st and June 1st. The entry for the drawing is free, but only 1% of the Super Bowl tickets are allocated for it and the winners pay face value for the ticket.
So what happens to the remaining 99%? None of them are given directly to travel agents or ticket agents. So when you buy a package that includes tickets, you know why they got so expensive!
The teams participating in the Super Bowl each receive roughly 17% of the tickets available. Additionally, the team that hosts the Super Bowl will get 5%. The remaining 29 teams in the NFL will each get approximately 1% of the tickets. The last 25% are controlled by the NFL. They can give them to corporate sponsors, the network hosting the Super Bowl, the media, whoever they determine to be a VIP, etc.
Now the basics of supply and demand are in play. Fans that "won the lottery," so to speak, probably won't be seeing their team in the Super Bowl and will sell their ticket for 5X the original cost, simply because they can. And possibly because they are bitter. Ticket agents and brokers snatch up any tickets they can as soon as they go on sale and grossly inflate the price. Again, because they can. The Super Bowl is so popular and tickets so limited that people will pay anything to go.
It is easy to see why going to the Super Bowl is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For players and fans alike.