The Super Bowl Ticket Industry

While most people sat at home and watched the Super Bowl, eating chips and throwing

Super Bowl Parties, 70,081 people were lucky enough to be in the stands for Super Bowl 53.

While many took in the barn burner of a score, 13-3, from their own homes; some people got to

watch the defensive showcase from a seat with a ticket price of $22,584. There were eight seats

sold at midfield for a grand total of $180,675. Excluding box seats, the average ticket price was

anywhere between $2,500 and $3,000 with resale ticket prices skyrocketing after that. While

you may be wondering if these people were first in line that morning or if they had been camping

out for a week, you would be wrong because they actually bought their ticket from a licensed

ticket dealer months ago.

Unlike regular NFL games, the ticket system for the Super Bowl is entirely different.

According to espn.com, the NFL distributes about three quarters of the tickets to each team.

The teams then let the tickets funnel down to their players. The other quarter is spread out

between partners, sponsors and the media. The simplest way to explain how the Super Bowl

works is there’s no primary market. You cannot buy a ticket at face value, says Mike Lipman,

owner of TicketsofAmerica.com and White Glove International. Only a relatively small portion of

the tickets are available to the average person. Even most of these tickets are purchased

immediately with the plan of selling them on the secondary ticket market. Interestingly enough,

most of the “public” tickets are purchased months in advance, long before the teams have even

been set. No laws actually prohibit the sale of tickets at a speculative price, essentially allowing

ticket prices to skyrocket. Sellers aren’t even required to possess the tickets until the fan

actually physically needs them for the game.

For the average football fan wanting to go to the Super Bowl, they must buy tickets that

are attached to “NFL Experiences.” These packages include everything from travel planning

and hotel accommodations to weekend activities such as concerts and even pre-game parties.

The issue with these ticket packages is that they value the ticket way above face value. Some of

these accommodations can reach prices about $15,000 per seat, although the cheaper ones

are valued at around $6,300 per seat. The benefit of purchasing an NFL Experience ticket

package is that customers are buying their tickets directly from the NFL and are guaranteed

their tickets. For fans looking to spend as little money as possible, they are forced to buy their

tickets from ticket brokers that charge whatever price they feel is best. Fans that are season

ticket holders to their respective Super Bowl participants are also only entered into a drawing to

win the ability to purchase these ultra-exclusive tickets.

However, for roughly 75% of seats, they are filled in a much different way. The NFL

allocates 17.5% of tickets to each team playing in the Super Bowl. The remaining 32.5% of

tickets are distributed among the league’s other 30 teams. Under the terms of the NFL’s

collective-bargaining agreement, every current player has the option to buy two seats at face

value. If they’re playing in the Super Bowl, they can buy up to 15 tickets. These 15 tickets are

generally distributed to the player’s friends and family. According to Lipman, “Their families go

and they really don’t need the money. But you’ve got some players that need it, like to have the

extra spending money. They take that ticket and they resell it for double, triple face value.”

Major NFL ticket brokers will seek out to form good relationships with players and coaches so

that they will be able to purchase their Super Bowl tickets from them. For the other roughly

quarter of tickets, they are distributed among major NFL sponsors as well media sponsors.

There is also a small portion dedicated to donations to military families and youth football

groups.

For many, going to the Super Bowl is a once in a lifetime opportunity that few people will

ever get the chance to experience. However, there is a stadium full of people that get to go

every year and they could have gotten their tickets any number of ways ranging from being

related to a lineman to purchasing a Super Bowl Ticket Experience Package for over $20,000.

Although many have the fantasy to someday watch the country’s biggest sporting event live, the

market forces behind Super Bowl tickets makes that dream ever more unlikely.

Liam Germain

USBC Journal Writer

Class of 2022