For Super Bowls XLVII (2013) and XLVIII (2014), the average ticket price on StubHub hovered a little over $2,500. For last year’s Super Bowl 50, between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers in Santa Clara, California, it nearly doubled to $4,512.
What goes into the anatomy of Super Bowl ticket pricing? A bunch of things.
Supply-demand factors and inventory are obviously the biggies. The teams and their respective markets/fan bases are also crucial. And then there’s the location of the game.
“In the San Francisco Bay Area [for Super Bowl 50 in 2016], it was more of a touristy area. There were deep pockets spending a lot of money in what we call the Silicon Valley effect,” says Cameron Papp, communications manager at the San Francisco-based StubHub, the eBay-owned online marketplace that sells tickets to live sports, music and theater events in more than 40 countries.
Super Bowl LI in Houston was looking as if it could set an all-time record, but then Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers ousted the Dallas Cowboys in the divisional playoff.
“We saw a big drop in the cheapest price. It dropped 10 percent in a day,” says Papp. As of January 25, the average $5,089 cost of admission for the New England Patriots-vs.-Atlanta Falcons clash at NRG Stadium on February 5 was down nearly 8 percent from the same time last year. Super Bowl LI tickets have sold on StubHub in the range of $2,600 to $15,432.
Houston could still set the record in the third-party market, but that all depends on the trickier aspects to pin down.
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Thanks to the rabid and long-established fan bases of the Steelers and the Packers, a Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay matchup could’ve upshifted the market compared to Patriots-Falcons. That’s because Tom Brady is in the Super Bowl pretty much every other year and Pats fans don’t travel as much. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s interest in its pro sports franchises is historically fickle (and that’s putting it nicely).
But then the erratic ATL sports fan threw StubHub for a loop: The NFC Championship game between the Falcons and the Packers on January 22 ended up being the highest-selling non-Super Bowl playoff game in the ticket broker’s history.
“This year has fluctuated more and now we might have gotten to a normalized point. I think honestly that sellers have gotten smarter and wait until close to the last minute to drop the price,” says Papp. “You might see it level off a little under $3,000 [for the cheapest ticket] once you hit the Monday before.” That’s today.
“It’s really due to the NFL’s growth in general,” says Papp about the skyrocketing prices overall. “It’s by far StubHub’s most popular event. It’s a bucket-list event for consumers.”