Super Bowl ticket market cools and here's one of the reasons: No Cowboys

NFL columnist
Yahoo Sports US

HOUSTON – Even after losing in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers continue to have their fingerprints on this Super Bowl. For the NFL’s ticket-resale business, the absences of those franchises have clipped the wings of what could have been a soaring market.

With each passing day since the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons secured their spots in Super Bowl LI, the secondary ticket market has consistently seen the demand get softer. The biggest hit was sustained when the Cowboys lost in the divisional round of the playoffs, essentially gutting what could have been a robust local market for Super Bowl tickets. It got worse in the conference title games, when two more teams with solid traveling fan bases – the Packers and Steelers – both lost.

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Ticket sellers say the “get-in” price for the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl is about $2,100. (AP)
Ticket sellers say the “get-in” price for the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl is about $2,100. (AP)

The result has been a little bit of havoc for the bottom line of the brokers who are hoping to turn the NFL’s grandest event into an annual score.

Both the average ticket price and the “get-in” price (the cost of the cheapest available ticket) have plummeted as the big event has drawn nearer. Six ticket brokers who spoke to Yahoo! Sports about their holdings all said the same thing: inventory is up and demand is soft – and that’s driving tickets down in price.

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“If the Cowboys were here, you’d see low-level seats, ‘get-in’ prices, they’d be at least $1,000 higher than where they are right now – at least,” one major U.S. ticket broker said. “It could have been even more. It might have been $2,000 higher just to get in. The $2,200 to $2,500 tickets you’re seeing could have easily been $4,000 to $5,000. It was that big of a deal. Who knows? But our calls from the average guy who still didn’t have tickets was probably cut in half or more when Dallas lost. And it got even worse when Green Bay and Pittsburgh went out.”

Added one mid-level broker, “Dallas made a huge difference. You lost a lot of buyers in Texas and a good segment of fans in Mexico that would have driven prices. The international market in Mexico, people don’t think of that. I had brokers telling me that they had fans in Mexico lined up to buy tickets if Dallas made it.”

The fallout? As of Sunday afternoon, the cost to get into NRG Stadium for the game was a shade above $2,100 on national broker Vivid Seats. Other major brokers like StubHub and PrimeSport were just above $2,200. That’s expected to drop a little, but the brokers who spoke to Yahoo all agreed that the “get-in” floor for Super Bowl LI will likely solidify around $2,000. The brokers all agreed that the average ticket price – which has been hovering around $4,500 this weekend – is expected to solidify somewhere around $4,000.

Asked to name the last Super Bowl that had softened considerably as the game approached, a few of the brokers pointed to XLVIII, when the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks faced off at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. That game actually had the “get-in” price for tickets dip to below $2,000 a few hours before kickoff.

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Losing the Packers and Cowboys fan bases for Super Bowl LI could be costly for some ticket brokers. (AP)
Losing the Packers and Cowboys fan bases for Super Bowl LI could be costly for some ticket brokers. (AP)

“It had been cold all week. People just stayed away,” the mid-level broker said.

Of course, none of this means that brokers are losing money. Most are still selling tickets for prices above what they have paid to players or other sources for their inventory. Although some are getting close to reaching the break-even point on their cheapest tickets, having shelled out $2,000 for some of the worst seats, believing Dallas would drive the market and make them very profitable. Others are actually being helped by dropping prices, after selling “get-in” tickets in packages as much as six months ago for $3,500 each. Now that the prices have fallen well below that mark, they’ll scoop up cheap seats and clear the difference.

“We sold quite a few of the cheap seats at $3,500 [each] over the last year,” one major nationwide broker said. “Now we’re getting them through other brokers at $2,000 to $2,100 a pop, clearing [$1,400 to $1,500] apiece. So we’ll still do pretty well. It will be a decent event for us. Just not as good as it could have been.”

What it means for fans is this: If they were waiting to make a decision on buying tickets and are willing to make the leap at $2,000 just to get into the stadium, the opportunity might be coming in the next few days. That should be good news for Patriots and Falcons fans.

“There’s some things that could surprise you [and keep the market from dropping],” one mid-level broker said. “Some Atlanta fans could show up at the last minute or some Patriots fans could say, ‘Hey, it’s less than $2,500 a ticket, let’s go.’ ”

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