The championship game of the U.S. National Football League, known as the Super Bowl, is the single most popular sporting event in the United States. While millions of people watch the game around the world on television, fans of teams competing in the final game of the American football season spend big money for a chance to experience the event in person.
"I can see all of these wonderful pictures that they have up," said Carla Montgomery, an Indianapolis Colts fan, who is living in the moment. “Money, it’s nothing, because we may not ever have the Super Bowl ever again!”
This is the first time the biggest event in American sports has taken the stage in her hometown of Indianapolis. It’s a bittersweet moment that hasn’t changed her attitude for the game, despite the fact that her team - the Colts - are not playing in it.
“We love it! We love the game of football,” she said.
But Montgomery does not love it enough to shell out thousands of dollars to buy a ticket to the main event February 5.
America’s love affair with football has helped the NFL score record ratings and revenues. It also has made a Super Bowl ticket one of the most expensive purchases in sports, even for Lucas Oil Stadium season ticket holders like New York Giants fan Kevin Stumpf.
“Our tickets are $79 for each game, and we looked on Stubhub [online ticket vendor] and they were going for $3,100 or something like that for the same seat - same exact seat,” he said.
Stumpf says even though his team is playing, that price is beyond his budget. He’s reluctant to check the updated prices on the secondary market.
“I honestly haven’t looked because I was scared if it was close to what I'd be willing to pay, I would do it,” he said.
“I wouldn’t pay more than $1,000 for a ticket - that’s pretty steep, but it would be worth coming over here for this game because my team is in it,” said Dean Tambling, New England Patriots fan. He instead opted for a $25 ticket that got him access to Media Day in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. He says he is disappointed he can’t afford the ultimate Super Bowl experience.
“There’s nothing like being at a professional sporting event," added Tambling. "No matter where it is or who’s playing, whether it’s football, baseball or basketball, I’ve done NASCAR [auto racing] a lot, but there’s nothing like being there.”
That allure drives up the demand and price for access to the Super Bowl. It also has led to a cottage industry of counterfeit tickets, says NFL attorney Anastasia Danias.
“From year to year, we see up to and more than hundreds of fans that come to the gate with counterfeit tickets, stolen tickets, who have no other recourse because they’ve gotten those bad tickets,” said Danias.
Danias says the best way for fans to enjoy the Super Bowl is to buy tickets from a reputable outlet, and if the price is too high, join the millions around the world who will watch it on television from the comfort of their couch or bar stool.