In 1967 you could attend SB I for $10. In 1981, TIX reportedly were being sold for $500. WHAT? NFL Commish Pete Rozelle told The NY Times that he was concerned about SB TIX scalping severely damaging the image the NFL (USA Today)! The growth of the SB as THE sports entertainment event is captured by the chart on the next page. TIX growth from SB I (1967) to the early 80s was flat. Then, came the famed 1984 Apple TV ad for Macintosh, the CHI Bears Super Bowl Shuffle in the 1985-6 season and the Ad Meter (USA2Day) in 1989 and TIX sales soared. Wait 1 min, how the heck can a TV ad, a slapstick video and USA2Day’s Ad Meter have anything to do with TIX sales?

The majority of the SB TIX are given to the competing teams. A smaller # are offered to other NFL teams. In 2005 the NFL fined Vikings Coach Mike Tice $100 K for scalping some of his Super Bowl TIX (Yahoo). Once teams have their allotment, the remaining TIX are raffled. The NFL holds a random drawing for SB TIX each year. There are NO TIX sold to the general public and the NFL does NOT sell TIX to travel agencies or to ticket agents. You must enter the raffle b/t Feb 1 and June 1 of the previous year in order to be eligible (NFL.com). For SB 50, 1,000 TIX were already raffled off, 500 fans had the opportunity to purchase 2 TIX at $500 each (USA Today).

Given SB 50 the demand for TIX is “through the roof” with their availability being all but NONEXISTENT. Many SB fans turn to 2ndary ticket sites to purchase their TIX. StubHub is one of the largest 2ndary ticket retailers. Sellers can post their TIX on a wide variety of venues from sports to concerts at a price of their choosing. StubHub then takes (on avg) 25% commission after the completed sale. SB 49 TIX (on StubHub) sold from $7 K to $40 K+ (CBS News) with an avg price of $10,919. WOW! Another popular way to buy SB TIX is through the NFL Ticket Exchange. The Wed b-4 SB 49, 738 TIX ranging from $4 K to $14 K were made available. The face value of these TIX were b/t $800 & $1,900. Thur night b-4 the BIG GAME, 149 TIX b/t $8,400 & $28,000 (USA Today) remained. With these extreme resale values, the raffle to buy SB TIX is a real lottery. Turning $500 into $8,400+ never has been easier. This season the avg ticket price for a reg season NFL game was b/t $57.65 (JAX Jaguars) & $123.40 (NY Giants) according to Statista.com. If there ever was a demand driven market, this is it!

NOT all TIX buyers win. There are countless heartbreak stories of SB ticket “short selling stories.” These cases have become legendary with big events like the SB. Short selling is when ticket brokers sell TIX they don’t have (leaving the buyer empty-handed). Although some ticket brokers attempt to make amends to customers, the typical result is that the customer does NOT attend the game (ESPN). Fake TIX is another nightmare for buyers. There have been countless cases of people TIX being sued through 2ndary sellers with buyers NOT being able to enter the stadium. NFL.com lists ways of checking SB TIX for legitimacy, but it is always a gamble when buying 2ndary TIX. Buying online TIX from a non-NFL affiliate is risky b/c it is no way to know if a ticket is real till game time (NFL.com). Multiple barcodes, matching serial numbers and front & back holograms are some TIX security features.  (HuffingtonPost).



Other leagues also boast high ticket resale prices for championship games, even though they stretch their championship over a multi-game series.

  • The 2015 6 game NBA Finals with the Warriors winning in CLE. TIX started at $493 (lower bowl for $775) and courtside for $50,000 (com). 20,000+ fans saw the game.


  • The 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Finals were 6 games (Blackhawks defeated TB) in CHI. Cheapest TIX on StubHub were $1,029.49 for STANDING ROOM ONLY! The avg price of TIX were $2,200. Row 1 & 2 seats (along the glass) were priced from $15 K to $25 K (CBS Sports). 20,000+ fans saw the game.


  • The 2015 MLB World Series went to 5 games with the Royals topping the Mets in Avg ticket prices were $1606.56. The cheapest were $612 (USA Today). 44,000+ fans were in attendance.

Other notable ticket prices in 2015,

  • UFC 194McGregor v. Aldo avg TIX price of $829.88 with the cheapest TIX at $414 (Forbes).
  • Mayweather v. Pacquiao TIX ranged from $3,500 to $350,000+ at (MGM Grand Garden) in LV (Forbes).
  • The rock band Fleetwood Mac was the only 2015 tour that avged over $300 for TIX. Maroon 5 and Taylor Swift were distant 2nd and 3rd place (Forbes) finishers.



Please note the fairly strong growth that took place in the mid and late 1980s as ads. The aforementioned famed Apple ad, the SB Shuffle video, and the USA2Day’s Ad Meter all enhanced the SB. We repeat the question regarding these events impacting TIX costs? C’mon! In short the SB grew in popularity partly b/c of those events. We note that 2004 was when Janet Jackson’s famous “wardrobe malfunction” also made a branding contribution to the SB being a MUST SEE EVENT!


OK, sports fans let’s look at the growth of the SB as THE event from its very start. Let’s 1st note the flatishness of TIX prices from 1967 to the early 80s. Then, there is the previously mentioned reasonable growth from the mid-80s till 2000 followed by extra ordinary growth from 2000 till 2011 and beyond. The growth or lack of it for the 1st 10-15 yrs is noted by the fact that it took the SB from 1967 till 1978 for there to be the 1st celeb coin tosser who was Red Grange. Furthermore, college bands were the primary pre-game and ½ time entertainment as late as 1984. By 1990 the pre-game was about the Mardi Gras, Aaron Neville was the coin tosser and the ½ time show featured Snoopy’s 40th b-day. By SB 1994 Kiss was the pre-game entertainment; Cher the coin flipper with Stevie Wonder & Gloria Esteban being the ½ time entertainment as the SB was reaching for the stars and becoming the “show of shows” or Sports-Entertainments #1 event in the US if not around the world. The 2000s with massive TV audiences and out of this world growth in TIX prices properly branded the SB as THE event. Surely SB 50 will cause an even steeper curve.  ANYQUESTIONS?

About bernacmd

For over 24 years, University of Detroit Mercy Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi, Ph.D., J.D, has produced "uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE", a newsletter discussing current "marketing and advertising¹s bends, trends & ends." A well-know fixture in Detroit and national media, UDM's marketing guru has made several appearances on CNN's "Talk Back Live," the Voice of America worldwide radio network (VOA), ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Time, TV Guide, the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, to name a few. At University of Detroit Mercy, he has taught courses in Marketing Management, Consumer Behavior, Marketing Communications, Research and Corporate Social Responsibility and Sports and Entertainment Marketing. Michael Bernacchi can be reached at 313-993-1116 or bernacmd@udmercy.edu. Please appropriately attribute the following for their work on uNDER tHE mIKE-rOSCOPE: Yen Ju Lee Robert Rouse Vidhyasagar Natarajan Eric Baumgardner & Ian Young
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