Super Bowl ticket scalping remains a key source of extra income

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During Super Bowl week in Phoenix, plenty of rumors were swirling about the amount of pure profit some NFL owners were making via the resale of tickets to the championship game at exorbitant markups.

As explained late last month by Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, players and coaches technically can’t flip Super Bowl tickets for a profit.  Owners can, and do.

Sure, 1,000 fans who win an annual lottery secure the ability to purchase tickets in the singed-by-fireworks section of the stadium for a face value of $500.  The rest of the tickets go only to the connected — or to those with plenty of discretionary cash.

One specific rumor making the rounds in Phoenix went like this:  6,500 owner-controlled tickets with a face value of $1,800 were sold for $4,800 each.  Those numbers equate to a profit of $19.5 million.

If that ever could be proven, with specific names attached to the transactions and specific amounts of cash identified, the NFL would have yet another P.R. nightmare.  But the ticket brokerage industry operates largely in shadow, utilizing discretion as needed to score tickets, as demonstrated in an article recently posted by Robert Klemko of

Nearly a decade ago, former Vikings coach Mike Tice paid a $100,000 fine for scalping Super Bowl tickets.  That led to greater restrictions on the ability of players and coaches to do the same thing, even though Klemko’s article makes it clear that players are still doing it.  Owners never stopped, giving the ultra-rich a chance every 12 months to become ultra-richer.

Right or wrong, it’s an ugly reality for the NFL that gets little attention, and that will continue until someone manages to blow the lid off the situation.

24 responses to “Super Bowl ticket scalping remains a key source of extra income

  1. Supply and demand. It shouldn’t matter. If you own the tickets, do what you want with them. Players and coaches should be allowed too.

  2. It’s crazy how much superbowl tickets cost. Unless my favorite team was in the game, I wouldn’t even want to go for free if I had to pay transportation and lodging.

  3. Nobody has been to a SB in 25 years. The players sign a contract of secrecy to play in an empty stadium for big bucks each and the league super imposes fans in the seats.

    Nobody is paying those prices.

  4. Who’s paying $4800 for a ticket. For what. They show it on TV Live for free. To support your team. That’s Priceless. Only in America where a sucker is born every minute.

  5. I was one of those lucky few to win the lottery a few years back to watch Saints vs. Colts in Miami. Yes they were nosebleeds, but just bring there was a hell of a experience. Wish they would open up more tickets. Sadly they don’t go to fans and instead go to Corporate sponsors and their lackeys

  6. If the NFL actually cared, they would take a page from other sporting contests.

    Both Olympics and World Cup require your name and additional info be tied to your ticket. Only you can use it to get in, passport/license required.

    This should be the case for the Super Bowl, as it makes it the most fair for the fans. If you find out you can’t go, you can sell your ticket through the already existing NFL ticket exchange at face value.

    For a league that claims that want to make the stadium experience better, this seems so simple. The NFL makes no money off broker transactions and the limit the ability of average fans to get a once in a lifetime experience by making them pay ridiculous amounts.

    Not only that, but as seen this year, most tickets aren’t “guaranteed” since the brokers are shorting them. This has to stop.

  7. Every year, once the 53man roster is announced, several “veteran” players and personnell approach the younger players, with cash in hand, and offer $1000-$1200. cash for each of their two tickets( (every player in the league gets to purchase 2 tickets to SB at face value.
    Of course if their team makes the big game, the participants have a right to purchase 12 tickets.
    If the league truly wanted to prevent “scalping”, they could mark each ticket “NOT TO BE RESOLD” AND keep track of who got what tickets. People sitting in the seats with ZERO affiliation to the players or employees of the league are politely asked to leave the seats and escorted from the stadium .

  8. That comes out to $609,375 per owner ((4800-1800)*6500)/32. Those figures are based on if they paid the face value to start with. Is that money tax exempt or do the owners have to pay taxes on it?

  9. Family season tiks for 54 years will never see a SB. Couldn’t afford and not big name cooperation. Money talks.

  10. Of course the billionaire owners don’t pay taxes on the tickets they scalp. They’d much rather spend that money on lawyers and congressional lobbyists to come up with “legal” ways to weasel out of paying any taxes at all.

    Truly, it’s as it’s always been though maybe a bit worse these days… only the “little people pay taxes,” to cite the immortal (but oh so true) words of Leona Helmsley, wife of a Manhattan hotel baron and known as “The Queen of Mean.”

  11. Remember those fans who “bought” tickets through a service, flew in, rented rooms, etc.; then found out they didn’t have tickets?

    Now you know where they went.

  12. It is all BS how they run this zoo anyway. Let’s say 80,000 seat stadium…10,000 should go to the 2 teams in the game for their staff and families and friends and the corporate sponsors. 20,000 each should go to the 2 teams season ticket holders via lottery. The remaining 30,000 should be sold to fans (or there is the equally valid argument that 35,000 should go to each teams season ticket holders)

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