Super Bowl LI

Did Super Bowl Ticket Prices Drop Because the Patriots Were Playing?

We ask an expert about the fickle rise and fall of Super Bowl LI's ticket pricing.

By Marialuisa Rincon February 7, 2017


Super Bowl ticket prices have historically dropped sharply in the days leading up to the game. This year’s big game, however, was a product of a perfect storm of Patriots fans' Super Bowl fatigue and the Atlanta Falcons’ small fan base, according to CNBC

With almost 40 years of experience in the ticket marketplace, Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketNetwork—an online seller-to-buyer ticket hub based in Connecticut—spoke with Houstonia about the fickle rise and fall of Super Bowl LI’s ticket pricing.

Can you explain why ticket prices dropped as it got closer to Super Bowl LI?

This year it was for a few reasons. One was the Patriots were in it. They've made it to the Super Bowl numerous times, so the demand in Boston to travel to Houston was lowered. And although the Falcons [were] a surprise team, fans were not flying in as strong from Atlanta as they would.

Second, a lot of season tickets don’t go to season ticket holders; they go to other folks. The third reason was the cost of Super Bowl ticket prices. The cheapest ticket was about $900, which went up to a $3,000 face value. A lot of people resell tickets to begin with, so you see more and more people who purchase tickets to make money off them instead of actually going to the game. The NFL sold Super Bowl tickets through NFLOnLocation that had a face value of $900 for about $5,900, but they couldn’t sell them all. We’re guessing that a lot of them were sold to secondary markets as well.

Is it true that after the Texans and the Cowboys were eliminated, ticket prices dropped noticeably?

The Cowboys are obviously big in Texas, but they have a very, very loyal following all across the country. People would have flown in from across the country to see them play. You also have the Dallas fans who are only [a few] hours away. That would’ve kept the price up a lot, so that was probably the biggest factor. If you had somebody else in, like the old marquee names—the Steelers, the Packers—it would’ve been a better ticket as well.

Is this a yearly trend, or was this year's price drop noticeably steeper as we got closer to the game?

The general trend in Super Bowl ticketing and all ticketing is: As you get closer to the event, the prices go down. There are times at the end you can see a spike in prices, which happened in Phoenix and somewhat in San Francisco. But this year was really marked because there were a lot of tickets out there and everyone was selling them at high prices. People bought tickets early and the demand just wasn’t there anymore. All it would’ve taken was a different matchup.

If the Cowboys made it to Super Bowl LI, it would’ve made ticket prices hold up to a beginning price of about $5,000 each. Though the Patriots are a great team, but they’ve been to the big game so many times that, while the fans are excited, they’re also more excited to sit home and watch the game. It’s very similar in all sports—when somebody’s been there, the first year is good and then it generally goes downhill. The Patriots are in a huge market, so it took a few years of getting in to the Super Bowl for them to really lose the desire people had to go see them.

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