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 TheMMQB.com.
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.