With 'no bad options' left in NFL playoffs, ticket prices are rocketing, even during COVID-19 pandemic

Charles Robinson
·NFL columnist
·4 min read

For a secondary ticket market that is always looking for a perfect storm to drive prices late in the NFL playoffs, a perfect storm is brewing for Super Bowl LV. So perfect, it has already arrived early to the conference championship games.

With a few days left to drive demand amid a total fan base of roughly 17,000 at Arrowhead Stadium and around 6,500 at Lambeau Field this weekend, this pair of conference championship games is expected to be among the priciest combination of teams in league history. That could foreshadow the whopper of a secondary Super Bowl ticket price that is already being anticipated in Tampa Bay next month.

The league has yet to announce a capacity for the Feb. 7 season finale in Tampa, Florida, but given what is happening with conference title game tickets, even additional unexpected capacity might not douse the considerable heat that is being expected.

Fans cheer in Arrowhead Stadium during a flyover before an NFL divisional round football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)
Fans cheer in Arrowhead Stadium during a flyover before an NFL divisional round football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Bills-Chiefs AFC title game could top Jaguars-Patriots record

The pandemic-limited AFC title game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills is already realizing some gangbusters pricing, with prices having blown the lid off previous full-capacity conference title games. According to ticket database and search engine ticketIQ, the week opened on Monday with Kansas City running an average single stub at $1,332, with get-in pricing at an initial floor of $882. If that price range holds, it will trounce the costliest AFC title game in history — the 2018 tilt between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots, which had an average ticket price of $1,014 and a “get in” floor of $677.

A broker with a significant stake in the secondary market at Arrowhead told Yahoo Sports that demand has been strong from the moment the matchup with the Bills was set, noting that nearly 600 tickets for the game came off StubHub at sky-high prices in the first 18 hours. He also noted that one pair of upper-level seats (which rarely sell in pairs due to the four-set “podding” that Kansas City prefers) were plucked at a remarkable $2,700 each in a heated initial wave of buying. The broker said he has seen strong demand from Bills fans and believes that prices should remain strong right into the game — unless Patrick Mahomes’ health suddenly takes a turn for the worst.

Packers-Bucs in Lambeau has pricey forecast

The market in Kansas City might pale in comparison to the secondary prices after nearly 6,500 tickets are sold Wednesday for the NFC title game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Green Bay Packers. Not only will Lambeau feature far less seating capacity than Arrowhead Stadium, the secondary market is expected to be much tighter as many Packers fans are expected to hold onto their tickets during a postseason when Green Bay is the No. 1 seed in the NFC and Aaron Rodgers is driving to cap a likely MVP-winning season. For the few hundred Lambeau Field tickets that hit daylight, the prices are expected to be stronger than any in recent memory.

“They might blow the Kansas City numbers out,” a broker said late Tuesday night.

Regardless of how this wave plays out, one thing is certain: Secondary brokers have been electrified by a Super Bowl that will feature limited capacity and a final foursome of teams that will drive prices regardless of the final combination. That’s due to a variety of factors, including the Buccaneers potentially being a “home” Super Bowl team; the Packers carrying one of the strongest national fan bases in the NFL and riding a charmed season; the Bills fielding a fan base with a ravenous appetite for its first Super Bowl berth since 1994; and a Chiefs franchise that carries the national draw of Mahomes (if he’s healthy).

Any way brokers dice that up, there should be very strong Super Bowl ticket demand, even in the middle of a pandemic.

“There’s no bad options here left,” a broker said. “There’s literally not a bad option. Any of these teams go to the Super Bowl, they’re all popular.”

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