Super Bowl 2012: Help! I've Been Ripped off by the NFL for the 46th Time!

Seth SandlerContributor IIFebruary 9, 2012

Gas Station
Gas StationGetty Images/Getty Images

It is a travesty and a rip-off! Can I go a step further and say this is a classic case of pre-approved price gouging of the worst kind?  Believe it or not, this happens every year in whichever city hosts the Super Bowl.  400, 500 or 1,000 percent price increases and no one says a thing, so the scam (or crime, rather,) continues.

In a recent article on, one traveler was charged $400 per night for a hotel room that is normally priced $100 per night.  Not only was this 400 percent increase for the price of a modest hotel room, but according to many travelers, many hotels with similar “deals” were also requiring three- or four-night minimum stays.  Can you even fathom paying $1,200-$1,600 for a modest hotel for a few nights in Indianapolis, Indiana? 

That’s nothing compared to other stories that were shared by Super Bowl travelers.  In several instances $65 per night hotel rooms were going for over $1,000 per night with a four-night minimum. In another article, a traveler mentioned that a downtown Indianapolis hotel room was going for $4,000 per night with a three-night minimum.  I don’t know about you, but for $4,000 a night, there had better be people hand-feeding me grapes and fanning me with a bamboo leaf.  I digress…

Let’s talk about the gas prices. Did you know that gas prices were increased nearly $0.30 per gallon during Super Bowl week?  Did you also know that parking prices increased significantly, as did food and beverage prices in the stadium compared to the cost during a regular season game? None of this includes the cost for the tickets. 

Average ticket prices for the Super Bowl were $2,750 per ticket, and this was actually a modest reduction from previous years.  I will not even attempt to say a $3,000 ticket to a sporting event should be considered a reduction because that’s the same cost of a 10-day international cruise in an upper-class cabin.

NFL Player NY Giants
NFL Player NY GiantsBrian Bahr/Getty Images

We can all do the math. Even a rough estimate shows that the average Super Bowl attendee will pay approximately $5,000 - $15,000 more than they would pay if they visited the host city at any other time of year.  I don’t know about you, but if my Redskins were in the Super Bowl I would have to find a way to attend.  I would accept the gouging because I have no choice. We all love our teams passionately and will do just about anything to support them – especially if they are playing for a Super Bowl.

What can I do, I asked myself?  What can we, the average fans, do to influence the NFL or the legislature to look into this and put a stop to it?  I suggest that next time you want to buy a $10 hot dog at a game or a player’s jersey, don’t.  Don’t buy tickets to blacked out games so the NFL loses some advertising revenue.  Hit them in the pocketbook until one of our heroic politicians does something about it.  Stop letting us get ripped off simply because we love our teams! Is anyone listening?  Will anyone help us?

To beat the dead horse, the real issue is with the NFL. End of story.  When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, it was made abundantly clear by President Bush that price gouging would not be tolerated.  In fact, many gas stations' gas prices were intentionally held lower than they were before the hurricane. 

How is it possible that after a national disaster we are able to prevent price gouging and yet when the Super Bowl comes to town the pre-planned gouging begins?  I can imagine that if I were a business owner, naturally I would want to capitalize on the opportunity, but to this extent?  There is a term for this: Extortion, ever heard of it?

There is an old adage that says, “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.”  Does the NFL understand what this means?  To ensure that there is no confusion, I will explain. (Speaking to Roger Goodell) “Mr. Goodell, the point I am attempting to make is, just because the host city can charge 5,000 percent more for everything that we need to survive while we are in town like food, shelter and gas, that doesn’t mean you should allow it.”

Roger Goodell
Roger GoodellElsa/Getty Images

The NFL needs to put a stop to the gouging.  The Senate needs to stop spending millions of dollars trying to prosecute Clemens and Bonds and instead focus on the extortion that occurs every February in the Superbowl host city—systemic, pre-planned price gouging.  Enough is enough! 

Is it our fault that we are loyal to our NFL teams?  We support the league all year, we buy jerseys and we attend games.  We watch on TV and create billions of advertising dollars for the NFL.  Once, just once per year, they could do the right thing and reward the loyal fan base and put a stop to gouging. 

Mr. Goodell put a new host city criteria selection rule into place: Name it after me since I am the genius behind the movement, the "Sandler Superbowl Criteria Rule #5"—Prices may not increase more than 25 percent a week prior to the Superbowl through a week after the Superbowl.  This applies to everything: gas, hotels, parking, concessions and ticket prices.  Put this in effect, and in essence, say thank you to all the millions of loyal NFL fans and say thank you in a way that matters: to our bank accounts.