OK it's getting to be that time of year when pundits of every stripe start to speculate on who is going to make it to the Big Game. Of course, I'm talking about the biggest of games, Super Bowl XLIV, February 7, 2010 at Land Shark Stadium in Miami.
Whether your money is on current December favorities like the Saints, Colts, Vikings, Cowboys, or on dark horses like the Pats, Giants, Eagles, Chargers, and a host of others, you shouldn't bet on getting a relatively "good" price for a Super Bowl ticket today - December 8, 2010.
That's because there is a predictable cycle in the market for the ultimate game ticket and it is affected by fans, brokers, and increasingly the league itself. This is addressed in greater depth in my book Making The Big Game: Tales of an Accidental Spectator in the chapter "Trick Plays". For now, let me tell you what to avoid and be wary of as a smart consumer of premium sports tickets in general and the Super Bowl in particular.
1. Don't be suckered by companies that promise you a ticket "future" based on whether your favorite team makes it to Miami. You can legally buy a contract for several hundred dollars (much less for teams on the elimination bubble) that entitles you to a Super Bowl ticket or a multiple of your money back if a specific team gets in. You can also place a bet in Vegas that if it hits would likely payoff more than enough to buy a ticket two weeks before kickoff. The same brilliant folks who brought you hedge funds and bankrupted the country are now looking to make a fortune from emotionally charged fans.
2. Get to know your local ticket broker. I have no vested interest in the legal, local, and independent ticket reseller but I am rooting for them. They are fighting for their own right and your right to operate in a free and open marketplace. The National Association of Ticket Brokers is the trade organization that can direct you to an independent reseller in your city.
3. Network online with other season ticket holders and independent brokers in different cities - particularly those in places like Cleveland, Oakland, or Washington. What do these places have in common? Their teams are on the verge of elimination for the playoffs and their fans are a long way from Miami. The NFL will still allocate a small number of lottery selected purchase rights to Super Bowl XLIV to every team. Those teams will randomly award purchase rights to selected season ticket holders. Purchase rights are transferable and many who exercise their rights will have no intention of going to the Big Game but will sell their seats - most likely to local brokers - and maybe to you.
More to come as the game approaches. Meanwhile, good luck and be a smart shopper.
Jeffrey Fekete is the author of Making The Big Game: Tales of an Accidental Spectator. The book chronicles his unexpected and frantic last minute chase for tickets to Super Bowl XLII. Information at www.MakingTheBigGame.com. Readers can correspond directly at firstname.lastname@example.org