Sunday, January 27, 2008
Super Bowl tickets being resold at record prices
NEW YORK -- Die-hard Giants and Patriots fan are paying
record prices to scalpers for tickets to this year's Super Bowl in
Glendale, Ariz., and the total dollar volume of resold seats could
be the biggest ever, according to ticketing firms.
Asking prices for the Feb. 3 game range from $2,450 to $19,446
at StubHub, a unit of eBay Inc. and the biggest of the online
resellers. Officials there say the average price so far is $4,300
for tickets that the National Football League originally priced at
either $700 or $900.
"It appears our face value is underpriced based on demand and
what people are willing to pay," said NFL spokesman Brian
McCarthy, who seems resigned to the fact that the league is mostly
powerless to stop the profitable turnover of tickets.
Marcel Nadeau of Rehobeth, Mass., said he paid $29,385 to
reseller RazorGator for a package that includes three hotel nights
and breakfasts, transportation to and from the game, a gift
package, and tickets for him and his two sons.
"I'm confident the Patriots will win," Nadeau said in
explaining why he is willing to shell out the big bucks. But even
if they don't, his next stop is already lined up: "On to Vegas we
As many states have repealed laws banning ticket scalping and
buyers like Nadeau seem immune to sticker shock, corporate America
is jumping on the bandwagon in a big way. One of StubHub's
competitors, TicketsNow, is being acquired for $265 million by
Ticketmaster, owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, the New York-based
Internet conglomerate controlled by media mogul Barry Diller.
Resellers bear little risk if tickets they offer don't get sold.
Instead, they make their money by requiring both buyers and sellers
to pay commissions of between 10 percent and 15 percent.
The matchup between the New York Giants and the undefeated New England Patriots is a clash of big-market teams from the chilly
Northeast. The game-day forecast for the Phoenix area is for a high
of 68 degrees. But even that doesn't matter because the teams will
be playing indoors in University of Phoenix Stadium, the
63,400-seat home of the Arizona Cardinals that will have its
seating expanded to about 75,000 for the Super Bowl.
"You gotta mortgage your home to get into the game," said
Michael Hershfield, a former lawyer who recently started the
ticketing Web site LiveStub.com. "There's this recipe that's been
spiced up for a very exciting, very hot event. With all the changes
in the industry, this combination has created this current wave of
supply and demand."
RazorGator Chief Executive Jeff Lapin, who is predicting total
sales will set a record, is amazed what buyers are willing to pay.
Tickets on his Web site are listed between $2,700 and $7,200. "I'm
telling my friends to buy now because it looks like it's going to
be tight," he said.
Doug Anderson, a Giants fan for almost all of his 71 years,
never attended a Super Bowl. But his team's win over Green Bay got
the retired truck driver from Mansfield, N.J., thinking.
When he saw a StubHub ad in his local newspaper, he and his wife
Barbara rearranged their vacation plans and bought tickets for
$2,800 each. Come game day they'll be in Section 435, which is on a
corner of the end zone on the upper tier.
Another enthusiastic Giants fan named Marc, who asked that his
last name not be used because of how much he is spending, paid more
than $40,000 for a package through RazorGator's Prime Sports. It
includes four tickets on the 50-yard line, hotel stays and pre- and
post-game parties to take his three sons, who are 9, 11 and 14.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Marc now lives in Denver and works
as a mutual fund manager. Within minutes of the Giants' playoff
win, he got online and started looking for the tickets.
"I see it as a once in a lifetime event, so the stars aligned
and we're off," he said. "It's not something I'm going to do on a
His wife and 16-year-old daughter, who is uninterested in
football, are throwing a Super Bowl party at home while the boys go
to Phoenix. They have, at least, agreed to wear their jerseys in
support of the family team.
StubHub figures show the march higher of scalped tickets in
recent years. Tickets it handled for last year's game between the
Bears and the Colts averaged $4,004. That was sharply higher than
the Steelers-Seahawks in 2006 at $3,009, the Eagles-Patriots in
2005 at $2,659, the Patriots-Panthers in 2004 at $2,290, and the
Raiders-Buccaneers in 2003 at $2,767.
StubHub spokesman Sean Pate said prices tend to drop as the game
draws closer, and a local law in Glendale could work to the
advantage of procrastinators: Ticket scalpers will be allowed to
ply their wares in the north preferred parking lot, about a
two-minute walk from a stadium entrance, according to stadium
marketing director Scott Norton. But Gary Adler, an attorney for
the National Association of Ticket Brokers, said he did not
recommend that fans try to buy tickets outside the stadium.
So where are all the tickets coming from?
The NFL league office controlled 25.2 percent of the tickets and
distributed 17.5 percent shares each to the Giants and Patriots for
their own use and sale to their season ticket holders. The Arizona
Cardinals got 5 percent and each of the other 29 NFL teams got 1.2
NFL spokesman McCarthy said coaches, players and team officials
are reminded every year that they can be fined if the league finds
out that they scalped Super Bowl tickets they received or bought at
face value. Minnesota Vikings head Mike Tice was fined $100,000 in
2005 for doing so and two of his assistants were fined $10,000
But given this year's demand for tickets at almost any cost, the
temptation to cash in is there, he acknowledges: "This year we do
have a perfect storm -- the pursuit of perfection of the Patriots,
the wonderful story of the New York Giants, the desirable location
in Arizona and rabid fans around the world -- all working