MONEY Sports

Why 2015 Super Bowl Tickets Are So Cheap (Relatively Speaking)

General view of the interior of University of Phoenix Stadium.
Ric Tapia—AP The University of Phoenix Stadium, host of the Super Bowl on February 1, 2015.

Seahawks and Patriots fans have already gotten the chance to see their teams play—and win—the Super Bowl. So it's understandable fans are unwilling to pay top dollar for this year's game. But that might not be the only reason prices are low.

The consensus is that the 2015 Super Bowl matching up the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots should be a terrific game, perhaps an all-time great. The showdown “has the makings of an instant classic,” as Reuters put it; it features the league’s two most dominant teams during the regular season, as well as the #1 playoff seeds from the AFC and NFC. At last check, Las Vegas oddsmakers have deemed the game a “pick ’em,” with neither team named as the favorite to win.

Interest in the game has been high enough to push airlines with hubs in the team’s home areas to add extra flights to help fans get to Phoenix for Super Bowl weekend. JetBlue said that it has added three extra Boston-Phoenix flights, while Alaska Airlines is boosting Seattle-Phoenix service. Meanwhile, USA Today reported that other carriers, notably United, have added dozens of Phoenix-bound flights for the Super Bowl, and the routes not only originate in Boston and Seattle but other gateways such as Chicago, Newark, Houston, and San Francisco.

Yet despite what would seem like white-hot interest in the game, ticket prices are actually fairly subdued—so far as astronomically expensive Super Bowl seats go. Before this past weekend’s games determined which teams would be playing, ticket prices were averaging over $3,000 apiece and the cheapest get-in seat cost roughly $2,200 on the secondary market as of Thursday. Within hours of fans finding out the Super Bowl would pit the Patriots against the Seahawks, however, ticket prices took a significant dip. According the resale site SeatGeek, as of Monday, average ticket prices were $2,879, an 18% drop compared to Saturday, before the matchup was settled. Also as of Monday, the cheapest seats were selling for $1,950, which is lower than any of the past five Super Bowls at a comparable time before the game.

Prices appear to have dropped slightly since then, with sellers such as VividSeats and TiqIQ listing seats starting around $1,850 on Tuesday. What’s more, analysts expect prices to keep dropping as game day nears, which is usually the case as sellers who were hoping to get top dollar settle on whatever the market will bear. This year, however, prices may dip lower than usual because of who is playing in the game.

“If I was a fan looking to get the best value, I would wait until at least the end of the week,” Chris Matcovitch of TiqIQ said to the Boston Herald. “A lot of it plays into Seattle playing in the game last year and also the Patriots being in the Super Bowl a few years ago, and it’s a long (way to) travel for the fans.”

Similarly, Connor Gregoire of SeatGeek.com explained to the media that “Patriots Super Bowl fatigue” is pushing prices downward. “It’s [the Patriots’] 6th time in 14 years, and those fans aren’t willing to pay the same ticket prices that others might be, on top of the cross-country flight.”

For each team’s fans, the chance to see their squad in the Super Bowl clearly isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime experience—because the teams have been in Super Bowls very recently. So it’s a harder sell to convince Patriots’ and Seahawks’ fans that they absolutely must blow the household budget to get to the game.

And good luck convincing football fans whose loyalties lie elsewhere that they should pony up big bucks for the opportunity to see one of these teams win the Super Bowl. Sure, these two teams are vying for the championship. But the Seahawks and Patriots are routinely named as top contenders for the dubious title of Most Hated NFL Team as well. When you hate a team above all others, why would you want to drop big money to see it contend for the Super Bowl?

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