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Super time for tickets

Colts-Bears is a hot matchup with seats going for more than $3,000. Public acceptance of online market is growing.

January 24, 2007|Greg Johnson | Times Staff Writer

The Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts are about as good as it could get for fans hoping to generate cash by selling their Super Bowl XLI tickets in the secondary market.

"There's nothing more ravenous than a hungry Bears fan," said Jennifer Swanson, marketing director for Ticketsnow.com, a Chicago company which had more than 900 Super Bowl tickets up for grabs Tuesday. "We've seen prices spike a bit, though it hasn't been as dramatic of a rise as I might have expected."

Just hours before last Sunday's game between the Bears and the New Orleans Saints, the cheapest Super Bowl seat on Ticketsnow.com went for $3,415. On Monday, that price had risen to $3,750; on Tuesday, it dipped to $3,675.

Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4 in Miami is shaping up as the fourth-most popular event for StubHub, a San Francisco company that last fall brokered the sale of its five millionth ticket -- a seat for Game 2 of the 2006 World Series. Earlier this month, StubHub was acquired by EBay for $310 million, a move that signaled growing public acceptance of the evolving online ticket resale market.

On Tuesday, prices for more than 600 Super Bowl tickets available through StubHub ranged from $3,000 for a seat in the corner of Miami's Dolphin Stadium upper deck to $170,593 for a 16-person private suite. StubHub's fee on that deal would amount to $17,000 -- which would cover several tickets.

The NFL is distributing 70,000 Super Bowl tickets -- with a face value of $600 and $700 -- for the game. The Bears and Colts each receive 17.5% of the tickets, while the host Miami Dolphins distribute 5%. The remaining NFL teams split 34.8% of the tickets and the league held back 25.2% for its sponsors, VIPs and other lucky souls.

Many of those tickets will change hands during the weeks leading up to the game. It is legal to resell tickets online at face value in every state, but more than a dozen slap restrictions on how much of a mark-up sellers can demand.

The New England Patriots are testing just such a law with a lawsuit filed last year against StubHub for allegedly breaking a Massachusetts law that limits resellers to $2 above face value. Fans, however, clearly are flocking to online services to buy tickets.

StubHub's average ticket price over the last few weeks is $4,240, noticeably higher than the final $3,009 average for last year's Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks in Detroit.

The Super Bowl market typically cools slightly after the AFC and NFC champions are crowned and tickets released to their fans make their way into the market.

The average price is expected to remain above $3,000 because of pent-up demand among long-suffering Colts fans and the army of Bears fans spread around the country.

Internet sales now account for an estimated 20% of all tickets sold to sporting events, performances, concerts and other attractions, said Patti Freeman Smith, an analyst with Jupiter Research. Consumer demand is expected to push that to 25% by 2011, Freeman Smith said. But the size of the burgeoning ticket scalping market is difficult to measure because many transactions are completed through person-to-person exchanges such as EBay and Craigslist.

And, as Jamie Gladfelter, an adjunct professor of economics in Illinois will attest, the secondary market is complicated. The Chicago resident who lives only blocks from Soldier Field purchased two private club seats for last Sunday's game between the Bears and Saints for $900 from a friend who had purchased them at face value ($300 each) through the Bears' ticket service.

Gladfelter, who uses a discussion of ticket scalping to jump-start conversations in his Economics 101 classes, then sold his Bears-Saints tickets on Craigslist for $1,300. A Chicago-area ticket broker snapped them up, "so they undoubtedly changed hands at least one more time before someone sat down at Soldier Field," Gladfelter said.

Gladfelter said his online experience supported the economic theory that he teaches in the classroom. "There's a tendency among some students to have a knee-jerk reaction -- that 'I can't see the game because ticket brokers are charging some ridiculous price,' " Gladfelter said. "But once I explain the economics involved, and they understand that someone is buying the tickets, they usually come around."

And, as for missing the Bears' big win over the Saints? "It didn't bother me because I'm a Packers fan," Gladfelter said.

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greg.johnson@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Dollar daze

Ticket prices have risen significantly since the first Super Bowl was played at the L.A. Coliseum. Super Bowl ticket prices from selected years:

* Super Bowl I (1967)...$6-$12

* Super Bowl XV (1981)...$40

* Super Bowl XXII (1988)...$100

* Super Bowl XXX (1996)...$200-$350

* Super Bowl XXXIII (1999)...$325

* Super Bowl XLI (2007)...$600-$700

Source: Associated Press

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Divvying up

The ticket distribution for Super Bowl XLI, by percent:

AFC champion: 17.5

NFC champion: 17.5

Host team (Dolphins): 5.0

Other 29 teams: 34.8

NFL: 25.2

Source: superbowl.com

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