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Super Bowl sees late surge in resale ticket activity

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, center, was the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl LIV (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Last-minute ticket buying for February 3’s Super Bowl LIV continued to push event pricing to historic levels. 

Prominent resale ticket marketplace StubHub said last Sunday its average price for tickets sold for the game finished at $6,634, 51 per cent higher than a year ago and more than a $200 jump from just late last week. Robust last-minute ticket purchasing fueled the extended increases, as get-in pricing in the last 36 hours before the game at times approached $7,000 with lower-level seats at Hard Rock Stadium tracking even higher. 

Fellow ticket marketplace SeatGeek reported an even higher overall average resale price on its platform of $7,049, and for tickets sold just on January 31 and February 1 the average was more than $8,600 for each those two days as the game approached. 

Super Bowl LIV provided a particularly potent mix of demand factors, including a popular tourist destination of Miami, Florida, as the host market for the game, and two participating teams with strong fanbases, and pent-up demand for championship glory after going decades without.

This year’s game also featured a heightened presence and influence by the hospitality provider On Location Experiences, co-owned by the National Football League.

Kansas City defeated San Francisco in the game, 31-20, to win their first NFL title in 50 years.

The strong push of last-minute ticket sales this year defied historical demand curves for the event. In most years, Super Bowl ticket resale pricing tends to fall at least 15 per cent in the final days before the game. But this time, the average price on most marketplaces jumped by about $1,000 per ticket after the conference championship games on January 19 and did not retreat.

There were a few reports over the weekend of short-sales efforts gone bust in which some brokers, hoping for that historical price drop and taking orders without inventory in hand, then had to fulfill those orders at a loss. But the situation was nothing like Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona five years ago when widespread incidents of busted short-sales corroded the overall resale market for the event and prompted several lawsuits.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, became part of the post-Super Bowl story when he tweeted a congratulatory message to the Chiefs that read in part, “you represented the Great State of Kansas and, in fact, the entire USA, so very well.” The Chiefs actually play and are based in the state of Missouri. Trump’s tweet, widely mocked and screen-grabbed by others, was quickly deleted and replaced with the reference to Missouri. 

Trump was also one of two politicians to run commercial air time during the game, purchasing two 30-second ads, one focusing on criminal justice reform and a second on the economy. Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg also ran a 60-second spot highlighting his efforts to curb gun violence. 

Each politician spent about $10m for their air time during the game, which will again be the highest-rated program in all of US television this year regardless of genre.