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Super Bowl ticket prices are plummeting — here’s the smart way to buy


Ticket prices for the Super Bowl always fall in the days before the game, but this year they are falling more than in the past. They are falling so fast that if you bought tickets one week ago, you may have paid nearly twice what you could pay today.

On secondary-market ticket sites like StubHub, TicketIQ and TickPick, the baseline “get in” price for Super Bowl 51 is hovering around $2,000, well below $3,500 from a week ago. The market has visibly softened.

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No, it’s not that people don’t want to go to the Super Bowl anymore. In fact, Brett Goldberg, CEO of TickPick, says the event is generally in higher demand than ever, which is a change from the past: “It doesn’t matter who’s playing, people are going to go.”

It’s also important to note that prices are still higher than in past years (except for 2015). But they have fallen in the week before the game by more than they usually do. And they don’t compare to two years ago.

New England Patriots fans at Super Bowl LI Opening Night in Houston. (AP)
New England Patriots fans at Super Bowl LI Opening Night in Houston. (AP)

Super Bowl 49 inflated future prices

Super Bowl 49 two years ago, between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, was a mega-popular anomaly that “artificially inflated” prices and is still having an impact today. The exciting matchup drove prices up to $8,000 in the days before that game. (And the thrilling game, ending in a last-minute interception, delivered on expectations.)

Prices on resale sites this year started at a higher level than ever before, “and I think that’s because of Super Bowl 49,” says Goldberg. Because they started so high, they had farther to drop.

No Cowboys

Goldberg suggests that the Dallas Cowboys had a huge impact on this year’s market. Prices dropped by a whopping 20% the day after the Cowboys lost the NFC divisional playoff game to the Green Bay Packers. Dallas is traditionally thought to have the most devoted fan base in football, and this year’s Super Bowl is at Houston’s NRG Stadium, which is convenient for Cowboys fans.

Interestingly, Goldberg says TickPick was seeing a lot of interest from Mexico, where there is a strong Cowboys following. It isn’t that this year’s matchup of the Patriots vs the Atlanta Falcons is bad, but had the Cowboys been in it, prices would have stayed very high right up until the game, Goldberg bets. (In addition, Atlanta is a small media market, so Fox and the NFL are counting on New England’s fan base, and a close game, to deliver the ratings.)

NFL changed the ticket supply

The NFL itself launched a new ticket package program this year, NFL On Location, that has apparently messed with the market. The packages, starting at $7,000, bundle a ticket with a ride to the stadium and access to concerts after the game. Because of these packages, there were fewer tickets available to resale sites and that pumped the prices at first, partially explaining the larger-than-usual fall this week.

Without the smaller supply due to NFL On Location, ticket sellers say prices would likely be even lower by now.

Want to buy? Buy smart.

So, want to buy a ticket? TickPick has some key tips. First of all, comparison-shop and pay attention to fees, which are different at every site (and especially high if you go through the NFL). “With NFL On Location, you’ll hear a $5,000 price, but then there may be $800 in fees,” Goldberg says. “So you gotta be careful of the fees, and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.”

Second, hop on the phone and speak to a human being before pulling the trigger. Goldberg says he’s shocked by how many people place a big Super Bowl order, sight unseen, with one click online. If you’re going to spring for tickets, call and make sure you know all the logistics: how the site gets the tickets, where you’ll pick them up and when, and so on. “We have people spending $50,000 on a purchase,” he says. “You want to be comfortable when you’re spending that amount of money.” The advantage of TickPick, Goldberg says, is that anyone on its small 15-person team who answers the phone is in the same room as the CEO, as opposed to being in a foreign call center.

Finally, if you can keep waiting, prices will fall even more in the next few days. The window closes a little farther out than a typical regular-season NFL game (where, if you live locally, you could wait until minutes before kickoff), but it still lasts until later than you’d think, considering the difficult logistics of going to a Super Bowl.

Last year, the most Super Bowl ticket sales TickPick saw was on the day before the game. “People aren’t waiting until 2 hours before,” says Goldberg, “but it’s still happening, and we will even see a handful of sales up until 3 o’clock on the day of the game.”

Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. Sportsbook is our recurring sports business video series.

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