How Super Bowl Tickets are Affected by Supply and Demand

Every year as the end of the NFL season approaches the Super Bowl hype begins. The location of the game has been predetermined but the last two teams are still up in the air. As the final teams are dwindling down, the rush for fans to get a ticket begins. Predictions about who the final two will be are the buzz and everyone wants it to be one of their teams. So, how much can one expect to spend on one of the coveted tickets? That is the golden question and one that Supply and Demand will determine for the lucky fans that are fortunate enough to hold a ticket at game time.

Just like any market transaction between a seller and a buyer, the prices of the tickets are determined by supply and demand.

Average and Cheapest Ticket Price

In 1967 in Super Bowl 1 the average ticket cost $12.00. If that figure is adjusted by inflation that price would be $90.00 for us today.

That to most people would seem a very reasonable price to go watch a game of the two best teams from each league duel it out. But, that is not what a ticket would cost. For Super Bowl LIII in 2018, the average ticket was $2500.00(Boone 2018). How can that be possible? The cheapest tickets for this past Super Bowl in February 2020 were selling on Stub Hub for $4100.00. That is a huge price to pay to watch football but it happens every year and the prices are determined by how many demand the tickets, and how many are on the market for sale.

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NFL Season Ticket

So how are supply and demand responsible for such high prices? When demand increases and supply does not change the price of the tickets will rise. Since there are only so many seats in a stadium the supply cannot fluctuate and remains the same. But the demand for the tickets will change. The first rush will be as soon as it is obvious which two teams will be in the game. When tickets are first released who gets the opportunity to purchase them? The truth is the average NFL fan will never have the opportunity to purchase these first tickets at face value. NFL season ticket holders of the two teams playing get first chance. This is because the NFL distributes 75% of the tickets to each team. The breakdown goes as follows. 17.5% to the AFC champion, 17.5% to the NFC Champion, 5% to the host team and 34.8% is divided between the remaining 29 NFL teams.

That leaves 25.2% that is controlled by the NFL and sold to partners, media, sponsors and networks (Roos & Klosowski 2010). The tickets that are given to the participating teams will go to friends and family of the players. After all, those are distributed, the remaining tickets are placed in a lottery for season ticket holders for that team. If a fan is lucky enough to have their name drawn they can buy a ticket at face value. The lucky ticket holder does not have to buy these tickets but most will elect to do so even if they do not plan on attending (Roos & Klowowski). In 2018 the face value of a ticket in the nose bleed section ran $950.00 and a ticket in the luxury boxes was $5000.00. Why would a ticket holder elect to buy a ticket if they do not want to go? They can resell the tickets on the secondary market for much more than they paid for them. That is because there are far more people who want to buy the tickets than tickets available so demand is very high. So, the demand for the tickets is there for the sellers to ask more than the face value and the buyers are willing to pay.

The Prices Fluctuate

Since the odds are slim that fans can buy a ticket at face value the next choice is from secondary sources. These sources connect the ticket holders with the buyers. These ticket holders can be lottery winners or brokers. Tickets that brokers sell include a fee which is how the brokers make their money. ‘Pricing on the secondary market is pure supply and demand (Roos & Klosowski 2010).’ The prices fluctuate depending on how many are available and how many people want to buy. If only a few people wanted to buy tickets the price would fall or at least stay low. This is never the case because the Super Bowl is so popular and anyone who loves the game wants to be at a Super Bowl. There are way more people who want to go than there are tickets. The price can also climb based on what two teams are playing.

Some football teams have a larger fan base with more fans who want to attend. Some years the game is predicted to be a close one and that will peak interest. These reasons can affect the prices because more fans will fight for the few tickets that are available to buy. For example, In 2018 it looked as if the Minnesota Vikings were going to the Super Bowl. This would be the first time that a team would play a Super Bowl game in their home stadium. Viking fans rushed to buy tickets adding more buyers to the market which in turn drove the price up (Roos & Klosowski 2010).

Tickets at a Lower Value

Historically the ticket prices tend to fall as the game draws near (Alan 2001). One would expect that the closer the game gets the fewer tickets there would be for sale and the more they would cost. But, in this situation, it does not happen that way. The reason is very simple and relates to demand. One reason is that most people who want to purchase tickets want them bad enough that they will buy early. The earlier they buy their tickets the earlier they can book their travel accommodations. People who wait until close to the game have not booked their flights and hotels and those items will now cost more. Hotels are usually booked up, not just from fans that have tickets but, from fans that just want to attend the Super Bowl events that lead up to the game.

Another high cost would be plane tickets. The closer you book a flight to time of departure the higher the costs. Airlines reward for planning and booking ahead. If the fan happens to live close or in the host city they could buy tickets at a lower value but they would be the only ones who could benefit from this price drop. But, they will not have the option to be picky they will only have the tickets that are left to choose from. Another reason prices will start to fall closer to kickoff is because the sellers do not want to be stuck with a ticket. No one wants to buy a ticket to make money and then make none and not be able to use it. So, they will reduce their price to get their tickets to sell. This will cause the other sellers to reduce their price as well, bringing prices down.

Supply of the Tickets

One of the biggest events every year is the Super Bowl and just like anything else in our economy the prices for tickets are affected by supply and demand. The event is more popular than the number of seats available and prices are driven up because of the demand. The supply of the tickets is a limited amount and there cannot be more added therefore, supply is constant and demand climbs. As demand goes up so do the prices. Limited amounts of tickets and such high demand can cause the tickets to multiply in price four to five times their face value. Closer to the game, tickets will start declining which is because the seller needs to sell them and the buyers are too late to book travel arrangements.

Flights and hotels now cost so much that most will not buy the tickets. One of the hottest commodities to have in your hand come Super Bowl time are tickets but, one must be smart and sell when the market is hot for the tickets. If they wait too long they will lose their opportunity to make a big profit. Imagine paying $916.00 for a ticket in the nose bleed section and two weeks later selling for $4000.00? Not a bad profit for any football fan to make for the sacrifice of giving up their tickets. Most are willing to give it a shot and for those who buy them they are given an opportunity many thought, they would never get to experience. There is just no substitute for a football fan for tickets to the Super Bowl. The limited amount available makes this commodity a short-lived one but a very profitable one to the sellers. Because of supply and demand for the tickets rarely does one get to attend without paying a fortune.

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How Super Bowl Tickets are Affected by Supply and Demand. (2021, Nov 15). Retrieved from

How Super Bowl Tickets are Affected by Supply and Demand
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