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The Cheapest Super Bowl Tickets Get The Biggest Markups

Super Bowl 50 will be played Sunday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the regular-season home of the San Francisco 49ers. To a bird, Levi’s Stadium looks something like this:

Levi's sections

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To a human, ticket prices to sit in various parts of that stadium Sunday look something like this over the past week, according to data provided to me by SeatGeek:

Super Bowl tickets are expensive
AVG. TICKET RESALE PRICE SUPER BOWL IS X TIMES MORE EXPENSIVE
SECTION COLOR 49ERS HOME GAME SUPER BOWL ON JAN. 27 SUPER BOWL ON FEB. 2 ON JAN. 27 ON FEB. 2 ∆ FROM JAN. 27 TO FEB. 2
Dark Green $78 $3,989 $3,727 51 48 -7%
Light Green 105 4,686 4,038 45 38 -14
Purple 106 4,742 4,471 45 42 -6
Middle Blue 131 4,827 4,597 37 35 -5
Dark Blue 143 5,231 4,419 37 31 -16
Light Blue 167 5,717 5,131 34 31 -10
Yellow 171 6,689 5,198 39 30 -22
Black 224 7,439 6,836 33 31 -8
Gold 265 9,449 7,944 36 30 -16
Red 306 10,067 9,326 33 30 -7
Gray 513 21,402 19,397 42 38 -9

Source: SeatGeek

At the Super Bowl, the cheapest tickets come at the highest added cost. Tickets for the worst seats — in the nosebleed dark-green sections — are selling at 48 times the average resale price for a regular-season 49ers home game. That’s a Super Bowl multiplier higher than anywhere else in the stadium. During the season, those seats retailed for $85 or $106, depending on the game. They resold on SeatGeek for an average of $78. For the Super Bowl, they’re reselling at an average of $3,727.

The other most relatively expensive sections are also bad seats — purple (slightly closer but way behind the end zones) and light green (dark green’s marginally better counterpart). Tickets in both those sections are going for 42 and 38 times what they did during the season, respectively.

Real “deals” can be found in the gilt-edged red, gold and black sections — close to the action and near midfield. While the average tickets in those sections are going for $9,326, $7,944 and $6,836, respectively, they’re a mere 30, 30 and 31 times more expensive than they were for a regular-season 49ers game. (One exception to this pattern are the über-elite gray “VIP” section tickets, but they’re a small sample — only eight gray tickets are listed on SeatGeek as I write.)

This is either a clear case of “you gotta spend money to make money” or a regressive tax that the Bay Area certainly does not need.

Over the past week, average resale prices for Super Bowl tickets have fallen in all sections, one by as much as 22 percent. This is evidence that buyers won’t suffer through another “short squeeze” like the one that plagued prices last year for the game at University of Phoenix Stadium. A short squeeze, which is rare for a Super Bowl, can happen when brokers sell speculative tickets early, when prices are high, hoping to cash in when prices dip right before the big game. “We’ll just never allow that to happen again,” a StubHub spokesman told Bloomberg.

Oliver Roeder is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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