At the Superbowl

Yesterday, I had what will likely (given ticket prices) be a once in a lifetime experience for me -- I got to take my son to the Superbowl.  Our ability to afford this event really was a result of our living in the same city as the Superbowl.  The obvious reason for this is that we did not incur any significant travel costs and did not have to pay peak demand level hotel pricing.  The less obvious, but ultimately more important, reason was because we could afford to watch the ticket prices on the secondary market up until the absolute last minute.  If your were bringing a group from New York, waiting until Friday or Saturday to buy tickets might have been a bit uncomfortable, given other sunk costs. 

As it turned out, Superbowl ticket prices this year on the secondary market  (e.g. TickCo, Stubhub, et al) followed a parabola.  They were below their peak early-on, particularly since sellers did not have the tickets in hand.  You can buy tickets weeks before the Superbowl, but they will be listed as "for this general area."  You could end up in the front row or the back -- it is a bit of a crap shoot.  So they are cheaper because of this.  The peak pricing came the week before the AFC and NFC championship games when many sellers had tickets in hand and could advertise specific seats.  All along, I was looking for a ticket to just get in the door, so I was looking for the cheapest seats (likely upper deck end zone).  At their peak, there was nothing gong for less than about $3800 (when you included the seller commission or transaction fees, typically 10-20% for this type of ticket).  Beginning the Monday before the game, prices started falling  -first 10%, then 20-30%, and finally as much as 50%.  I jumped in towards the end of the week because a pretty good (or at least better than the worst) seat came up for a good price.  I am told by a friend who showed up on game day at the ticket company office that he got in for less than $1500.

Anyway, here is the stadium - yes it is kind of odd looking.  This was taken about halfway through our walk from the car to the stadium.  We just barely parked in the same county.  We showed up about 6 hours before game time and were in the last half of arrivals:

The stadium is a taxpayer-funded boondoggle that is a good hour away (on the complete opposite side of a very large city) from old Scottsdale where most of the parties and social activities and player hotels were. 

The security included a ban on any bag over 12x12x12 inches, a pat down, and a metal detector.  And the NFL did a MUCH better job than the TSA.  MUCH.  It is hard to see, but the tent on the left is about 1/4 of the length of the full security screening area.   They had  at least 25 lanes open in parallel.  Despite thousands of people, we had no wait at all (the lines below are all moving briskly and continuously).

And look!  We must be in the front row!  Well, of the upper deck, but these turned out to be great seats and, having watched prices for weeks, a very good price-value point (in context).  My son braves the wrath of all the surrounding Giants fans by wearing his Cowboys jersey.

I thought the fast set up and takedown of the stages was pretty amazing, and something you miss on TV.  Here is Tom Petty's stage going out (or in, I can't remember).  The funniest part was the crew of NFL guys who followed along with rags and buckets to dust off the grass after the equipment passed to make sure it looked good for TV.


We had a decent view of Tom Petty's back, which once I saw his scraggly beard was probably a good thing.  The crew of screaming fans at the stage was pretty funny.  They ran these folks out for Alicia Keyes, then kicked them out of the stadium, then ran them back in for Tom Petty, and then back out again.  I saw one show on TV last night, and the audience looked young, but to my eye the great mass of the crowd was middle aged women, which I thought was kind of funny.

And here is the last play and confetti burst:

It was a great, perhaps historic game, and we loved the whole experience.  Now back to work to pay those bills.

So, here are the [sports-related] events on my must-see list I have tackled:

Baseball all-star game, Superbowl, game at Fenway, game at Yankee stadium, 16th hole at the Phoenix Open, center court at Wimbledon, BCS Championship game, Daytona 500, personally playing golf at St. Andrews, Big 10 home football game, Rose Bowl, Cowboys home game [update: and an original 90s-vintage American Gladiators filming live]

Yet to be tackled:

the Masters, Packers home game, game at Wrigley, NCAA final four, SEC home football game (maybe Tennessee or the cocktail party), maybe at World Series, maybe a World Cup

What else?


  1. richard:

    Some football (or soccer as it is called in the US)

    Biggest sport on earth.

    Thanks for the site.


  2. Kyle Bennett:

    Ahh, games at Wrigley...

    I'm not any kind of a sports fan anymore, but I got to go to Wrigley at least once a year as a kid. Saw Johnny Bench just miss hitting the scoreboard once, completely out of the park to near dead center field.

    Don't miss that one, Warren. From how things look when I see them on TV now, Wrigley is a whole different kind of experience.

  3. aeronathan:

    As an alumni, I'm a bit biased, but MS State is a good, friendly place to go see an SEC game. Pick a rivalry (Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas) for some real entertainment.

  4. dearieme:

    Sydney to Hobart race - take part.

  5. Frederick Davies:

    You Americans take this "rugby in armored suits" thing too seriously ;-D

    But nevertheless, it has to be admitted that you really know how to put a good show!

  6. Mark:

    Should you ever make it to Lambeau (I've been multiple times), get there a day or so ahead of time and go to the Packer Hall of Fame. Truly a wonderful thing. There's something special about Lambeau and the whole experience of a football game.

    Football games at the Big House in Ann Arbor or The Shoe in Columbus are great fun. The atmosphere is something else. I believe I'm going to the Michigan game at Ohio State this year...

    One thing I'd add to your list would the Indy 500.

  7. Another guy named Dan:

    Grand Prix of Monoco
    Olympic Opening Ceremony
    Paris Stage (finish) of the Tour de France
    Notre Dame Football museum

  8. CRC:

    I've been to two Packer home games. Sweet. Fun. What a great place to watch a game. Wouldn't go in the winter though.

  9. Rufus:

    SO, how much DID the city of Phoenix take in in taxes this weekend? Will it ever pay the City back for what it cost? How much is it worth to have the SuperBowl come to town every so often?

  10. TC:

    Glad you got to go, sounds like a good time.

    I would find it difficult to trade in my HD seat for one in the stands though.

    Hella game though. Probably the best low scoring game I've ever seen.

  11. Chris:

    I've made the trek to Lambeau a couple times - I don't think there is a better place to watch football. And there truly isn't a bad seat in the house, so showing up the day of the game and buying (legal) scalped tickets across the street is totally the way to go.

    Wrigley field is a fun place to be (the only place I'll actually watch baseball, can't stand the sport).

    If you are looking for "events" I think you have to include the Kentucky Derby to the list, though I hear that it's a shit-hole.

    Notre Dame football is probably something that should be seen.

  12. steven:

    We missed you at the superbowl party! But, that's ok, Kate was there!
    Yes, World cup in SA ...I am going, so join us there. Jeff is also threatening to come.

  13. Barrett:

    I'm a bit biased, but I'd recommend an SEC game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge. :) ESPN and others consistently rate it as the loudest and toughest stadium to play in in all of college football, with good reason. The Florida-LSU game this year was simply fantastic.

    Next year's big home games are Alabama and Georgia. If I had to pick one I'd go to the Georgia game.

  14. Reformed Republican:

    I live in Florida, so I am taking the opportunity to go see Wrestlemania since it is Orlando this year. Sure, it is no Superbowl, but I grew up watching wrestling, and it is the biggest pro-wrestling event around.

  15. stan:

    A football game at Neyland is the most awesome stadium experience in the country. Over 100,000, with both decks complete all the way around. Very loud.

    Take a boat down the river to the stadium when the leaves are changing in the Smoky Mtns (mid to late Oct). Absolutely beautiful. Tailgate with the rest of the Vol Navy. Walk across the street from your boat to the stadium. Watch SEC football.


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  17. ColoradoJimH:

    Stubhub sold me invalid tickets to the September 18th Yankees game. I have asked several times for an answer: Did they or the owner of the tickets commit fraud? I am still waiting for their reply, despite several requests for an answer. Oh - they did send me a $200 credit. The cost of my trip exceeded $4k. I do plan to submit a complaint to the NY Attorney General's office. I hope this will work; I have my doubts. I see StubHub (an EBAY Co) donated to the AG's political campaign fund. I am open to joining a class action, if others want to do the same.