Tickets for MetLife Stadium's best seats at Super Bowl XLVIII will be more than double last year's prices, because scalping of tickets has become so rampant. Oh, and because the game is (almost) in New York City. The Wall Street Journal's Matthew Futterman reports that club-level area tickets for February's big game will cost $2,600 each, up from the comparatively paltry $1,250 at the last game in New Orleans. The next highest block of seats will cost $1,500, up from $950 last year. More than 60 percent of the 77,000 seats will have a face value over $1,000.
The NFL gave two reasons for the price hike. Executives told the Journal that because the game is in New York, with its sprawling metropolis bursting with well-to-do customers, the game demanded higher prices. That, and it's all our fault for scalping tickets last year.
"We are looking to close the gap between the face value of the ticket and the true value of a ticket to what has become the premier sports and entertainment event," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Journal. Tickets to last year's Super Bowl were re-sold at such a premium that the league knows they could raise the cost even higher and people would still pay. Scalpers did the market research for them using the cheapest, worst seats in the stadium that were raffled in a lottery last year:
At the last Super Bowl, the league held a lottery for $600 tickets in the upper bowl in the corners of the end zones—drawing some 30,000 entries. But of the 500 winners, the NFL said, 60% flipped their tickets within 24 hours. This season, the NFL plans to raffle off 1,000 $500 tickets—but those tickets will be non-transferrable.
So while it's nice that the NFL is making the worst tickets in the stadium cheaper and selling more of them, they're only making it harder for people who didn't enter a lottery that ended in June. For most football fans, scalped tickets are the only way to get into the Super Bowl. There are exactly zero tickets placed on open sale to the general public.
"To get a ticket without a scalper, you’ll need three things: a little luck, a lot of money, and a connection to a team," the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Peggy Malone explains. The NFL keeps 35 percent of Super Bowl tickets for executives, sponsors, and league partners. The rest of the tickets are divided among the teams: the two teams who make it get 35 percent of the tickets, the host team gets 6.2 percent (this year it's split between the Giants and the Jets), and the 28 other teams in the NFL get the rest to give to their executives, players, and sponsors. Then whatever is left over (which is not much) is sold to their season tickets holders, through another lottery.
The result is thousands of tickets that go to people who either didn't pay for them, have no rooting interest, or have a very lucrative incentive to place them on the black market. Meanwhile, all the lower income fans will be left out in the cold come February, priced out of the biggest game of the year, as usual. So if scalping is a problem, the NFL is only making it worse by making the resale market the only outlet for die-hard, but non-connected fans.
Those fans can at least take solace in the fact that the people who do get tickets will literally be left out in the cold, because the game is being played in New Jersey, outdoors, in February. It's going to be freezing out there. Come to think of it, that will probably make even more people want to sell their tickets.