There’s really no way around it: Going to the Super Bowl costs a ton of money. And this year, the festivities have the potential to be the most expensive in the 50-year history of the event.
The whole 50th-anniversary thing is part of the higher-than-usual cost, said Brian Learst, CEO of QuintEvents, a company that partners with the NFL to sell Super Bowl travel packages. On top of that, the location (the Bay Area) is really attractive.
“It’s in San Francisco and it’s never been there, and then when you have the 50th anniversary that makes it more special,” Learst said. The closest it’s been was Super Bowl XIX in 1985, which was at Stanford Stadium. “The demand’s been very high, and you only have so many seats in the stadium, so it’ll be one of the more expensive ones.” He said prices have been about 20% to 25% higher than they were at similar points last year.
Tickets started at about $4,000 and they stayed about that price for months, but it’s hard to predict where they’ll end up, said Patrick Ryan, a ticket resale consultant and co-founder of Eventellect. Prices heavily depend on which teams play and the resulting demand for tickets.
“Prices have held to where it is still around $3500 to simply ‘get in,’” Ryan wrote in an email to Credit.com the day after the Broncos and Panthers secured their places in the Super Bowl. “It very well could hold at that due to the number of Broncos fans in the general region.”
Of course, the ticket is only one part of the overall cost of attending the Super Bowl.
“What I consider very interesting for this year is the cost of amenities,” Ryan said. “In San Francisco, if you’re staying in the city and wanting to stay in one of the premier hotels, those rooms are extremely expensive … You could be looking at upwards of $2,000 a night for a room.”
Even if you’re not going for the high-end accommodations, you could easily spend $500 a night, Ryan said. Then there’s the fact that the stadium is in Santa Clara, so you have to get there from wherever in the Bay Area you might be staying.
“Transportation is definitely going to be more critical this year,” Learst said. Stadium parking is limited, which is contributing to higher ground transportation prices than what has been in other cities. Learst said people will have to spend “a couple hundred dollars” getting to the game, which isn’t much in comparison to the ticket, airfare and hotel accommodations. Those are the big three factors determining the price tag of a Super Bowl experience.
So, if you’re putting together a trip to the Super Bowl, Ryan said it could easily cost you about $6,000 or $7,000 as an individual. You might be able to bring down the cost by aggressively deal-hunting for airfare and accommodations, though that could require a lot of legwork throughout the experience. If you go through a company that sells Super Bowl travel packages, you’d maybe see a starting price around $9,000, Learst said. For some people, the conveniences offered through packages can be worth the extra expense, because attending the Super Bowl can be logistically very difficult.
Then, there’s the “budget” option: Plan your trip to the host city and see if ticket prices come down to a point you can afford. If not, just hang out and enjoy the spectacle — and watch the game at a bar.
“There are thousands of people that do that every year,” Learst said. “If they can’t get a ticket they go to the parties and enjoy the atmosphere.”
Remember, high credit card balances can hurt your credit, so if you’re late to the game (pun intended) and thinking of charging a trip to your travel credit card, make sure you’re OK with that unintended consequence.