Early Indications Suggest Ticket and Travel Prices For Super Bowl 50 Could Be Giant

With the NFL Playoffs kicking off this past weekend, each remaining team will be playing for the same goal: make it to the Super Bowl. Fans will no doubt be tuning in from home with hope that their favorite team will play for the game’s biggest prize. But the once in a lifetime chance to see their team play in the Super Bowlwill have many fans traveling across the country to cheer on their teams in person. While most would be watching from home, there’s still a portion of each fanbase willing to travel to see their team potentially lift the Lombardi Trophy.

Unlike other major professional sports in the US, seeing the Super Bowl presents a unique dilemma for fans trying to get into the game since the game is played at a neutral site and requires travel for home and visiting team fans alike. Once the two teams are set, fans have just two weeks to figure out how to secure tickets and finalize travel arrangements. Since the Super Bowl is one of the biggest live events of the year, it attracts many other attendees with no rooting interest in the game who book their trips far in advance, causing ticket and hotel room prices to quickly skyrocket.

Each participating team is only allotted a small fraction of the tickets available to a given Super Bowl and an even smaller fraction of those tickets get to the hands of season ticket holders. This leaves many looking towards the secondary market for tickets, where prices can be volatile. Last year prices spiked to over a $10,000 average price on the secondary market, the highest prices TiqIQ has tracked since 2010.

It’s very likely prices won’t hit those peaks this year, but early inventory has the cheapest tickets listed for over $3,100. While there was no major movement after the first round of playoff games, these prices are subject to change as the playoffs move forward and the last two teams are set for the Super Bowl.

Hotel prices don’t vary quite as much, though prices will tend to go up as rooms start to get booked. In the greater San Francisco/Santa Clara/Silicon Valley area there’s around 35,000 total hotel rooms. Among the past five Super Bowl sites, that’s well below the hotel capacity in the New York/New Jersey area for Super Bowl XLVIII which had over 100,000 total rooms. The capacity this year is closer to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, which had around 40,000 rooms.

Like the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl, hotel availability varies greatly in distance from the stadium. There are a few better deals in San Francisco than out in Silicon Valley. The drawback is that San Francisco is roughly an hour outside of Santa Clara, home of Levi’s Stadium. However, “Super Bowl City” and other events during the week will be held in San Francisco.
As of the first week in January, two-star hotels from priceline.com range in $65 to $746 per night in San Francisco, while they range from $95 to $999 in Silicon Valley. San Francisco three-star hotels range from $123 to $899, while that quality of room ranges from $415 to $1,499 in the Silicon Valley area. Those rates are around what it cost in the Phoenix and Glendale areas for Super Bowl XLIX last year where hotels ranged in price from $117 to $1,999.
According to priceline.com, the current early January national average of flights into the Bay Area ranges from $313 to $531, though the closest past match to that was the relatively short flight from Seattle to Phoenix last year, which ranged from $182 to $500.

Jesse Lawrence,
I cover the business and emotion of the ticket market