If you're lucky enough to have a Super Bowl XLI ticket in hand, treat it like gold and hope that a ticket collector one day comes knocking. Several years ago, a collector paid a record $19,922 for a nearly perfect 1968 Super Bowl ticket. A well-preserved 1978 ticket went for $16,464 during the same auction. And, more recently, a full set of 40 tickets sold for about $100,000.
"If you're going to buy a ticket, you can recoup a lot of the cost -- if not all of it -- by preserving the ticket, having it graded and then selling it to a collector," said Joe Orlando, president of Professional Sports Authenticator in Newport Beach.
Few tickets from past Super Bowls survive game day in pristine condition, because NFL ushers continue to separate game tickets from stubs. Though stubs are considered to be collectibles, hard-core fans are paying a premium for unblemished tickets that appear to have been unused.
They're hard, but not impossible, to find, according to Ben Friedman, a 41-year-old Bedford, N.Y., resident who owns one of the highest-rated collections to have been authenticated by Orlando's firm: "They usually come from someone who didn't attend the game, or a VIP who got through security unchallenged because they were with a team owner."
The collector's task is complicated because the NFL prints as many as six color-coded types of tickets each year. And collectors began to scramble late in 2006 after discovering that the NFL regularly issues disabled seating section tickets. Then there is the Holy Grail: a full set of 40 (soon to be 41) tickets, each bearing the autograph of the corresponding Super Bowl MVP.
"Unlike trading cards, which start out as collectibles, tickets are a consumable, not a collectible, so they're harder to find," said Temecula resident Al Glaser, who began collecting tickets after attending Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl. He has posted pictures of tickets on his website at SuperbowlTicketCollector.com. "For me, the thrill is largely in the hunt."
Meanwhile, the average resale price for Super Bowl XLI tickets, with a face value of $600 and $700, drifted down slightly on Thursday, to $4,323 on StubHub.com. The company had about 100 tickets available for under $3,000.
RazorGator.com's lowest-price ticket cost $2,091.
Ticket brokers are wondering if the market has hit bottom, or if sales will pick up again on Friday as Miami-area hotels fill up with fans who hope to score last-minute tickets.
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