How to Get Super Bowl Tickets

By: Dave Roos, Thorin Klosowski & John Donovan  | 

super bowl tickets
Face value for Super Bowl LIV tickets between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami was $950. But fans paid between $4,220 and $60,000 to actually see the game in person. Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Super Bowl tickets aren't like concert tickets. You can't camp out the night before and be first in line when they go on sale. The system for distributing Super Bowl tickets is closely controlled by the NFL, and the best way to get a ticket is either to be related to Tom Brady or to cough up a lot of money.

In 2021, even that might not be enough.

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The Super Bowl is the most-watched sports event in the United States. The annual spectacle has expanded to include days of special events in the host city. And ticket prices have expanded right along with it.

Tickets to the very first Super Bowl in 1967 cost an average of $10 (more than $77 in 2021 money). Even by the year 2000, Super Bowl tickets were still averaging less than $500 when adjusted for inflation. But in the last two decades, face-value ticket prices have risen astronomically, and fans often pay double or triple those prices on the secondary market [source: DePietro].

Until recently, regular football fans could enter a lottery to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value. But that lottery is mostly gone now, except for fans with disabilities [source: NFL]. Now, whatever seats the NFL makes available are sold at a hefty face value, or at steep markups via ticket brokers.

So how does the NFL divvy up Super Bowl tickets, and who has the best chance of scoring a (relatively) cheap seat to the big game?

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How Does the NFL Distribute Super Bowl Tickets?

In a normal year, the NFL distributes a certain number of tickets to each of the 32 NFL teams. For example, in the February 2020 game, at the end of the 2019 season, the two teams involved in the Super Bowl — the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs — split 35 percent of the tickets. Each of those teams figured out how to divvy their tickets among coaches and players, other team personnel, team season ticket holders, and various other team loyalists. The league gave the host team a chunk of tickets, too, and each of the other NFL squads received an even smaller portion.

That left about 25 percent or so for the league itself, which it distributed to its rich and powerful friends, leaving a very limited amount to sell to the general public through the NFL's On Location Experiences [source: Breech].

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As we said, though, and as everybody knows, 2021 isn't a normal year. After a 2020 season played amid the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 Super Bowl — officially, it's Super Bowl LV, scheduled for Feb. 7, 2021, at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium — may end up being played mostly in front of a crowd of health care workers.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he'd like have as many health care heroes into the roughly 65,000 seats of Raymond James Stadium as is safely possible. And on Jan. 22, the NFL made the announcement official. The NFL will provide 7,500 free tickets to vaccinated health care workers. An additional 14,500 fans also will be allowed to attend the game. The decision came after discussions with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Florida Department of Health, and area hospitals and health care systems.

If you're not a health care worker, or lucky enough to grab one of the other 14,000 or so tickets, there's still a chance you can get to the big game. On Location Experiences is advertising tickets. The NFL promises to enhance its rigorous COVID-19 protocols like social distancing and masking for anyone attending the game. It promises to be an in-stadium experience like no other Super Bowl — ever.

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Buying Super Bowl Tickets on the Secondary Market

super bowl tickets
Buying Super Bowl tickets from a reseller on the street might not be the best idea, as many of those tickets could be counterfeit. EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI/AFP via Getty Images

It should be clear at this point that getting Super Bowl tickets, in 2021 especially, is incredibly difficult. The only real option for most Super Bowl ticket buyers this year, barring any new public health surprises that may open up the game, is to buy them online through the NFL or on the secondary or resale market. And even that's dicey.

Online ticket resellers like StubHub and SeatGeek work by connecting buyers with ticket holders who want to sell. Those sellers may be individual season ticket holders who won a team lottery, or professional ticket brokers. The website makes money by taking a cut of the sales price and sometimes charging fees.

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Pricing on the secondary market is pure supply and demand. Ticket prices go up or down based on the number of tickets available and how many people want to buy them. For example, in 2018 when it looked like the Minnesota Vikings might play in the Super Bowl — becoming the first team ever to play the big game on its home field — eager Vikings' fans caused ticket prices on the secondary market to spike before the home team lost to the Eagles [source: Roberts].

For Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, the average resale ticket price for the game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams was more than $7,000 [source: Barrabi]. As of this writing, the cheapest resale ticket on SeatGeek for the 2021 Super Bowl is $4,804 — yes, that's for a single ticket.

The On Location Experiences official ticket packages sold in 2021 through the NFL — which include premium in-game and postgame events, often stocked with celebrities and former athletes — start at $5,100 apiece. Though this year's add-ons will probably be virtual. A front row (or as close as you can get to it in COVID-19 times) package for two people will cost close to $30,000 [source: On Location].

Ticket prices tend to spike right after a conference championship and fall as game day approaches two weeks later. So, if you happen to live in or near the city where one of the conference championship games are played, it might be smart to wait until the very end if you haven't gotten your tickets yet [source: Goldberg]. You just might score a relative "bargain."

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Originally Published: Oct 13, 2010

Super Bowl Tickets FAQ

Why are Super Bowl tickets so expensive?
The Super Bowl is the most-watched sports event in the United States. Pricing on the secondary market is pure supply and demand. Ticket prices go up or down based on the number of tickets available and how many people want to buy them.
How much is a Super Bowl ticket?
The average Super Bowl ticket costs between $4,000 and $5,000, but that price varies depending on the teams playing and when tickets are purchased.
Do Super Bowl tickets get cheaper closer to the game?
Super Bowl ticket prices on the secondary market historically get lower as game day approaches.
Is there a lottery for Super Bowl tickets?
Before the 2018 NFL season, regular football fans could enter a lottery to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value, however that lottery is gone now, except for fans with disabilities.
How much are the cheapest Super Bowl tickets?
The very cheapest resale ticket on SeatGeek for Super Bowl 2021 was $4,804 at the time this was published (Jan. 27, 2021).
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Related Articles

  • DiPietro, Andrew. "It Only Cost $10 to Attend the First Super Bowl -- Now It's a Fortune." GoBankingRates. Jan. 18, 2018 (Jan. 23, 2018) https://www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/average-cost-super-bowl-tickets-1967-through-today/
  • Goldberg, Bret. "How to Buy the Cheapest Super Bowl 52 Tickets - a 2018 Guide." TickPick. Jan. 23, 2018 https://blog.tickpick.com/how-to-buy-super-bowl-tickets/
  • Meyersohn, Nathaniel. "Super Bowl LII tickets set to be the costliest ever." CNN Money. Jan. 23, 2018 http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/22/news/super-bowl-ticket-prices/index.html
  • NFL. "Super Bowl Ticket Lottery Updated." Oct. 19, 2017 (Jan. 23, 2018) https://digitalcare.nfl.com/hc/en-us/articles/215348977-Super-Bowl-Ticket-Lottery-UPDATED-10-19-17
  • Roberts, Daniel. "Super Bowl ticket prices are plummeting since Vikings loss." Yahoo! Finance. Jan. 23, 2018 https://finance.yahoo.com/news/super-bowl-ticket-prices-plummeting-since-vikings-loss-eagles-112930425.html
  • Rovell, Darren. "Owners OK On Location Experiences to sell Super Bowl packages." ESPN. May 24, 2016 (Jan. 23, 2018) http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/15700554/nfl-owners-ok-location-experiences-sell-super-bowl-tickets
  • Tornoe, Rob. "Super Bowl tickets: How Eagles and Patriots fans can buy them." The Philadelphia Inquirer. Jan. 21, 2018 (Jan. 23, 2018) http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/super-bowl-tickets-eagles-patriots-minnesota-20180121

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