By: Hipmunk Staff
The NFL playoffs are officially in full swing, and we’re only a few weeks out from the 50th installment of that American juggernaut we call the Super Bowl, to be held this year on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
As a San Francisco-based company whose headquarters are just down the street from the Moscone Center, where the NFL Experience is being held and around the corner from Super Bowl City, we naturally wanted to know how much a trip to the Bay Area for Super Bowl weekend would cost football fans.
We wondered if there was a way to juke those famously exorbitant prices, or at least soften its blow. And so we decided to take a look at our data to see what we could find.
But here’s the rub, and why these tickets command such extreme prices: the majority of Super Bowl tickets are reserved for the two teams that actually play in the game to sell, primarily to their season ticket holders. Because this isn’t decided until a mere two weeks prior to Super Bowl Sunday (or January 24 this year), it creates a feeding frenzy for not only game tickets, but airfare as well. Thus, prices go up.
For instance, last year’s Super Bowl was held in Phoenix, AZ and pitted the New England Patriots against the Seattle Seahawks. Airlines added dozens of new flights and new flight routes, while airfare from the participating teams’ cities to the host city historically jumps about 300% after the final two teams have been decided. We took a look at Hipmunk’s data last year to see if that estimate held up.
|Super Bowl 2015 (SEA vs NE, held in Phoenix)|
|Average Airfare for Flight Path||Flights booked in the 2 weeks Before Super Bowl||% Increase|
|BOS to PHX||$399||$1328||233%|
|SEA to PHX||$319||$1058||232%|
While our ticket prices weren’t quite at a 300 percent increase, there was still an enormous jump of >230 percent. Hotel prices, on the other hand, tend to trend a bit differently because the location is set ahead of time: the host city is the host city no matter which teams are playing on Super Bowl Sunday. Here, like all real estate, it’s about location, location, location.
To get the best sense of how much it would cost to visit the Bay Area for SB50, we analyzed Hipmunk’s historical flight and hotel data, asked TiqIQ to analyze their own historical Super Bowl ticketing data, and finally, included local tourism price data.
So let’s break it down.
Because at this date it’s impossible to predict which teams will end up meeting on February 7 (although several coworkers claimed to have the gift of supernatural foresight), in order to provide the most accurate estimate we decided to look at the average airfare from Jan 7, 2015 – Jan 7, 2016 for all eight remaining teams to the Bay Area’s three major airports: SFO, OAK, and SJC. Then using that as a baseline, we increased the price by a relatively conservative 250 percent to represent the potential airfare after January 24.
|Average Airfare to Bay Area Airports (SFO/OAK/SJC)|
|Team||Average Airfare||Potential Airfare After Jan. 24th*|
Logically, it seems that the closer in proximity one’s departure airport is, the less expensive the airfare. Indeed, flights from Phoenix and Seattle are about half the price of those flying from farther distances and less traveled flight routes, such as Green Bay and Carolina.
Even though you may fly into Oakland (a solid way to save regardless of when you purchase airfare; see our tips below) to save money, most of the Super Bowl events are in SF proper, and the game is in Santa Clara, so while staying in the East Bay could save some dollars, you’d removed from most of the Super Bowl action.
Therefore, we decided to concentrate on hotels either in the South Bay (Santa Clara and San Jose) and San Francisco proper, where the city is hosting a slew of events, looking at the past year’s average prices and then comparing them to the current booking prices in these cities for Super Bowl weekend.
|SF Area Hotels|
|Average Price||Super Bowl Weekend||% Increase|
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the closer one stays to the stadium, the pricier it gets; indeed, hotels in the South Bay (Santa Clara and San Jose) have risen a whopping 317 percent to average more than $600 per night. Meanwhile, San Francisco, usually more expensive than the South Bay, seems like a steal with an average of $403 per night, a 96 percent increase over its usual $206 average.
To get an idea of just how high Super Bowl tickets would soar this year, we turned to Tim Dolan, an editor at TiqIQ, the largest aggregator of event tickets online, for his expertise. Referencing early data from the secondary market as well as historical data, Dolan predicted that prices would stay firmly above $4,000 (at the time of publication, the average ticket price on the secondary market was $4,340.66), noting that ticket prices typically increase by mid-January and begin to fizzle closer to kickoff. However, he added that using past data is somewhat unpredictable for the Super Bowl: last year, the average price continued to rise up until the day of the game.
“Being the first Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium may create a more lucrative market as well,” Nolan said. “But the biggest price driver will be the two teams playing. If another Seahawks-Pats game is in the cards, it’s possible SB50 could be the most expensive Super Bowl in the last six seasons.” With that in mind, we decide to estimate that a ticket to the game would cost at least $4,500 on average.
Miscellaneous Expenses/ Food:
It’s impossible to estimate how much any individual will spend on food for Super Bowl weekend as the cost can vary dramatically. However, San Francisco Travel estimates that the average visitor spends $240.31 per day in the city. Food at Levi’s Stadium runs the gamut from concession snacks to farm-fresh gourmet, but is pretty pricey across the board (a Kobe beef burger ($11), garlic fries ($9), and domestic draft beer ($10) will set Super Bowl attendees a total of $30.) Therefore, we decided to estimate miscellaneous expenses (food, transportation, etc.) at $250/day or $500 for the weekend.
That brings the total cost of a trip to this year’s Super Bowl somewhere between $6,189 and $7,207—a pretty hefty price tag indeed. Still, if you’re planning on attending SB50, there are several ways to still save some money.
Ways to Save:
- If you think there’s a good chance of your team reaching the Super Bowl, you can lock in your airfare for seven days through Options Away.
- Cut hotel costs by 50% by staying in an Airbnb or underrated parts of the city.
- Flying into Oakland is ~15% cheaper, less crowded, and serviced by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
- Save thousands by attending the events in San Francisco, but not buying a ticket to the game. You can still have a ton of Super Bowl fun for two or three days—without breaking the bank.