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Super Bowl Economics

I love sports. Team sports, individual sports, any kind. I believe there’s something beautiful about the competitive spirit and two entities facing off to establish dominance. This weekend, the National Football League features a clash of true titans as the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks face off against one another. Both teams were the top dogs in their conferences through the regular season and have further demonstrated their superiority by going unblemished in the postseason. Until now.

Tomorrow on Sunday, February 1, 2015, there will be one team left standing as the best of the best for the year. The excruciating aspect of football is that your entire season can come down to one bad play. It isn’t like hockey or basketball where you have a Best of Seven series to determine who the best is. In football it is one loss and your season is over.

As a result of this sudden death aspect of the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl has grown to become recognized as the most-watched event in sports year after year. It’s hard to ignore a match-up where literally everything is on the line.

Taking my sporting passion and applying a financial element to it, the question is left as to what one might expect the final cost to be to attend the Super Bowl this year.

Some Basic Facts/Considerations

Super Bowl XLIX (49) will take place in at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. This indoor stadium will allow for a consistent game-experience as players will not be required to make big adjustments for playing conditions as they would in a cold, outdoor stadium.

The National Retail Federation released a survey which anticipates an estimated viewing audience of 184 million with spending on the big day to exceed $14 billion.

One serious factor as a fan with regard to attending a Super Bowl is that until two weeks before the game you will not know whether the team you love is going to be actually playing. As a result, many accommodations need to be arranged for on a last-minute basis. With an event of this magnitude, that can often mean paying a premium.

For my breakdown I am going to be taking a mix of average prices that I am able to find online and apply common sense where necessary to come up with final figures.

The Costs

One Ticket:

I have been researching the price of tickets over the last few days and have found figures ranging from around $1,600 to $3,000 for a lower-tier (not-so-good) seat. With that in mind, I wanted to hold off on releasing this article as I suspected there would be a bump in prices right before the event due to the demand with this one and the high-profile teams involved.

What I have found is that in fact many of the ticket resellers are actually unable to fulfill the orders they have with customers. The companies issuing the tickets to the public were engaging in a practice well-known to stock market participants called short selling. They were ultimately selling tickets they did not have with the hopes of then buying the tickets closer to the event to give to customers and turn a profit on the spread between what they initially sold for and what they paid to buy. In the ticket resale industry as in the stock market, short selling is a dangerous game, especially when you’re dealing with something like tickets where there is a limited supply to go around.

Many football fans who thought they had their tickets all locked up are now finding that they have accommodations in Arizona for a game they are not able to actually see.

Since it has been an unreliable practice at best to acquire tickets to the game, I have figured in a cost of $4,000 for a ticket. If one can do better, then all power to you. The issue is that if you can buy a ticket for $2,000 but never actually receive delivery, you are not truly getting the ticket for $2,000.

Assuming your ticket broker actually holds up their end of the bargain, I am prepared to consider the ultimate cost here to settle at $4,000.


I have a friend who takes the word cheap to a new level. He has even spent nights in large cities sleeping in the alcoves of business shops to save money on the price of a hotel room. Despite the means to afford basic amenities, he often foregoes the basics and relishes his ability to do so. For him, saving money in this area would be a given.

For the rest of us who prefer to earn money and let it put some shelter over our heads, I have found hotels within a reasonable distance to the game at prices of just over $200. Let us assume that after taxes the cost would round out to $250 or so per night. If I was going to the game, I would be planning to arrive the day before the game and leave the morning after. That comes up to two nights.

This would give us a total of $500 here.


My airport of choice is in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Over the past few days I have been checking prices and a return flight from Ottawa to Glendale (January 31-February 2) could be had for around $1,600 with taxes and everything in.

There may be cheaper options out there but I prefer to use well known names to avoid complications. Some out there have better detective skills for sleuthing a cheap flight and may be able to do much better in this area.


In this category I have to consider the fact that I would be anticipating three days and two nights in Glendale during as touristy a day as imaginable. Everything would be up from food vendors, car rentals or cab fares, right to the proverbial you-name-it. Given the thousands of people packed into a small area, there would no doubt be many situations where it would be a matter of paying more or waiting in line to pay less.

I would forego a car rental service and instead use taxis to get around. Since hotels near the event would be tough to come by with a late booking date, we have to expect taxi fares to be run up significantly in this analysis.

As a bare minimum I would anticipate at least $500 in out-of-pocket expenses over the few days I would be spending in Glendale.


$4,000 (Ticket)

$500 (Hotel)

$1,600 (Flight)

$500 (Miscellaneous)

$6,600 Final Total


The cost of attending a Super Bowl is sizeable and can suit all sizes. I have taken a look in this article at what roughly might be seen as base costs. Beyond that, it is actually quite possible to spend millions of dollars on the event if one has the pocketbook for it and the accompanying desire.

As mentioned, this article has taken a look at the cost of one person going to the Super Bowl. Going in a group or at least with one other person would allow for scaling of costs through shared cab fares and other means.

The final total of $6,600 represents a sizeable investment (speculative venture?) for the average football fan. This is of course the present-day cost of attending the Super Bowl and takes into account the low-end of what one might pay. As an investor who is most interested in Getting Rich, it is worthwhile to consider also the future cost of this amount.

For illustrative purposes I have taken the starting amount of $6,600 and factored in 5% stock appreciation on a 3.5% yielding equity that grows its dividend at a modest 5% per year over 30 years. At the end of the thirty years the investor would be receiving nearly $3,000 in annual dividends on a final capital amount of almost $85,000. This figure includes reinvested dividends.

So, the real cost of shelling out $6,600 today is nearly a six figure sum projected into the future.

For my part, I intend on watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of an armchair with a total cost coming in well under $50. This approach should net me around eighty grand in the long run.


Is the Super Bowl worth the overall price of admission or are you better off spending a few dollars on food and refreshments in the comfort of your home with friends and family?

Pictures courtesy of pixabay.com

2 thoughts on “Super Bowl Economics

  1. The most mind-blowing thing in all of this, to me, is that short-selling of tickets is a thing. I can see it happening, absolutely, but I’ve never thought about it being a thing. Fake tickets, sure, but short-selling… that surprised me. To buy a position in a list to acquire tickets is all together different than “purchasing” a ticket to not have it fulfilled.

    1. Anne,

      You’re dead right on that. Short selling tickets to events is a ridiculous practice. I suppose when competition gets fierce enough in the world it leads to ridiculous practices such as this. Instead of just trying to earn a profit from doing good business and fulfilling the needs of customers in responsible and timely fashion, they try to be traders earnings spreads on their movements.

      What I know for sure is that if I had purchased a ticket to the Super Bowl, took vacation time, and booked accommodations only to find out the night before I was leaving that I didn’t actually have a ticket… I wouldn’t be impressed.

      Thanks for stopping in,
      – Ryan

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