The Super Bowl is for the rich — or those willing to sacrifice

Paul Leon (right) and his son, Gage, walk around the NFL Store at the Los Angeles Convention Center during Super Bowl Experience on Friday. The two root for each of the two Super Bowl teams, but decided against attending the actual game due to high ticket prices. (Colin Salao / Medill)

By Colin Salao
Medill Reports

LOS ANGELES — On Saturday night, less than 24 hours before Super LVI, the entry price for tickets to the game at SoFi Stadium was $3,054 according to ticket reseller site SeatGeek. In a city where the median monthly household income is a little over $5,500, the lofty price tag means die-hard fans looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience have to pay prices that even exceed even the city’s exorbitant housing costs.

For small business owner Philip Asuncion, a ticket to watch the franchise he’s supported for over four decades meant sacrificing money toward improving his family’s home. 

“I want to put a driveway (in my home), so I thought, ‘Money for the driveway or Super Bowl?’” Asuncion said. “My wife said Super Bowl.”

Asuncion admitted that he purchased his lone ticket online on Friday morning for around $4,000, which is 100 times more expensive than tickets to the Super Bowl Experience he attended with his son and grandson two days prior to the game.

For father-son duo Paul and Gage Leon, Super Bowl LVI presented a special bonding opportunity as they have the unique distinction of living in Los Angeles and rooting for the Rams and Bengals, respectively. But Paul Leon said attending the game was never really an option.

“(Gage) told me it was $6,000, so we did not consider going to the game,” Paul Leon said. He said although fees are cheaper now, he would’ve only pulled the trigger on tickets at around $1,000.

For Bengals fan Dylan Del Rio, the ticket price was also the reason he couldn’t justify going to the team’s first Super Bowl appearance in his lifetime despite the game being in his city.

“I think they just outpriced the regular fan,” Del Rio said.

While the Super Bowl ticket prices may be too steep for many of the NFL’s most passionate fans, pricing structures in any industry are generally influenced by supply and demand. Ticket supply will always be limited by the stadium’s capacity, and it’s clear that the demand for tickets has maintained its strength despite the rising ticket prices as the Super Bowl constantly fills stadiums designed for over 70,000 fans

This is largely due to the corporate clients that make up a large part of the Super Bowl’s attendees, as has been the case since they helped drive the success of Super Bowl II. According to Zach Yabroff, founder of Zinc Agency, which provides Super Bowl ticketing and hospitality for corporate clients, these corporations could range from Fortune 500 companies to smaller firms that use the Super Bowl as an incentive for customers or employees. But Yabroff said regardless of an affiliation with a company, the simple truth is many of the people who attend the Super Bowl are the “high net worth, wealthy individuals.”

“The best tickets we sell, they’re bought by individuals that just have unlimited resources, where there isn’t a price tag that they can’t afford,” Yabroff said.

As long as there are going to be enough people willing to purchase tickets to sell out stadiums for the biggest live sporting event in America, the game’s ticket prices will stay as is — far from the reach of the majority of the NFL’s fans. Like Asuncion, they’ll have to wait decades to decide whether sacrificing an arm and a leg is worth a chance to watch their team hoist the Lombardi Trophy from the nosebleeds.

“If they win, the $4,000 is worth it,” Asuncion said.

Colin Salao is a sports media graduate student at Medill. You can follow him on Twitter at @colinsalao.