The price tag of a prime seat in Lucas Oil Stadium for Super Bowl XLVI is officially $1,000, but cash-rich fans will shell out multiples of that to see the NFL championship game.
Thanks to a thriving and perfectly legal resale market, premium ticket prices for the Feb. 5 event are climbing into the five figures.
While a seat in the stadium's nose-bleed section is going for four times or more its face value of $800, some of the best spots are being resold, online, for $20,000 a pop.
That's chump change for whomever decides to plunk down $1.1 million for the use of a luxury suite in the stadium, advertised on the popular ticket exchange site, Stub Hub, just two weeks before the game.
But it's a lot more money than fans paid to see the first Super Bowl in 1967. Tickets went for $12 for a great seat, and $6 in the cheap-seat sections. This year's halftime show features aging rock icon Madonna. Fans at Super Bowl I were entertained at halftime by a couple of marching bands.
Pro football may be a sport loved by the masses – the NFL sold 17 million tickets last year and it has its own official beer sponsor, Bud Light. But ticket-pricing experts say the Super Bowl has become an event for people on a champagne budget who can afford its super-sized ticket prices.
"It's a different animal, like no other event in sports," said Joris Drayer, a Temple University assistant professor of sports management who studies sports ticket prices. "When I do my research on this topic, I have to exclude the Super Bowl because it's just so different. It's a spectacle more than a game."
The spectacle of it is beefed up by pricey parties – $1,000 will get you into the "Leather and Laces" soiree hosted by Playboy magazine – and pumped up prices for hotel rooms, parking spots and bar cover charges.
The NFL is a bit defensive about that perception. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy insists that the formula for distributing Super Bowl tickets is fan-based. He said about 75 percent of the tickets are doled out directly to the NFL team franchises, at face value prices, for them to divvy up to their fans.
The breakdown: Each conference champ team gets 17.5 percent of the tickets; the host city team gets 5 percent of the tickets; and the 29 other teams each get 1.2 percent of the ticket share. The NFL takes the remaining 25.2 percent and spreads it out among the NFL Players Association, event sponsors, some charities (to auction off to raise money for their cause) and the media.
Mike Peduto, owner of the Indianapolis-based ticket broker, Circle City Tickets, said it's been years since the average cost-conscious fan has had a shot at going to a Super Bowl game.
"It's not really possible to get a ticket at face value anymore," said Peduto. "But there are plenty of tickets out there if you're willing to pay the price."
Maureen Hayden is the CNHI Indiana state reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.