Most Expensive Super Bowl Ever Is Turning into a Last-Minute Bargain

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Relatively speaking, that is. Hotel rooms near the stadium can be had for under $100, and scalpers say ticket prices should drop to $500 by Super Bowl Sunday.

Early on in the buildup to this year’s Super Bowl—an unprecedented event held in a cold-weather stadium, near the media capital of the world—everyone acknowledged that it was highly likely this would be both the chilliest and most expensive Super Bowl ever. According to reports cited by the Star-Ledger (N.J.) and others, the estimated cost of hosting the game would come to a record-high $70 million. Naturally, the face value of tickets hit the roof as well. Roughly 9,000 premium seats for the game were priced above $2,500, or twice the rate of similar seats at last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans.

As for the cold, well, sure, it’s no surprise that this year’s projected game-time temperatures in the 30s will be far lower than that of a typical Super Bowl, held in a climate-controlled dome or a balmy city like Phoenix or New Orleans. What’s coming as a surprise to some, though, is how this year’s Super Bowl setting is affecting the price of attending the game. Instead of being the most expensive Super Bowl ever for spectators, this year’s game is shaping up as a relative bargain for fans strategically throwing plans together at the last-minute.

Earlier this week, USA Today reported that due to slacking demand, hotel prices in Manhattan and northern New Jersey—where most Super Bowl attendees want to stay, given their proximity to host MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.—have been tanking. Average hotel prices in Manhattan available via Priceline hit around $250 per night, a sharp dropoff compared to rates travelers would have found in searches conducted a month ago.

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Closer to the game, in New Jersey, prices are much cheaper for last-minute bookings. As of Friday, a search at Orbitz turned up basic rooms within 10 miles of East Rutherford at chains such as Days Inn, Rodeway Inn, Best Western, Fairfield Inn, and Ramada for under $100 on both Saturday and Sunday nights. The majority of metro-area hotels still have vacancies too, of course.

Part of the reason hotel prices aren’t headed in the opposite direction right about now is simply the number of rooms in the area. There are well over 100,000, compared to 40,000 in New Orleans—where room rates more than doubled when the city hosted last year’s Super Bowl. MetLife Stadium will surely be full on Sunday, but the area’s hotels will more than handle all the out-of-towners in need of lodging. Bloomberg News noted that many homeowners listing private residences and rooms for rent during the Super Bowl have been forced to lower their asking prices as well, due to lackluster interest.

The asking price for Super Bowl tickets, meanwhile, has been following a trajectory similar to that of area room rates. At the beginning of last week, right after it was determined which teams would play for the championship, the cheapest “get-in” price was around $2,000. At the time, analysts were forecasting price drop-offs in the neighborhood of 40% to 50%, and those predictions have largely come to pass. As of Friday, secondary market ticket aggregators SeatGeek and TiqIQ were listing seats from $1,250. The NFL’s official Ticket Exchange by Ticketmaster site offered prices starting at $1,400.

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In a New York magazine post, scalpers referred to the game as “a bomb” and “the worst Super Bowl ever,” at least, that is, in terms of what they care about: gigantic markups on ticket prices.

One scalper’s prediction is that Super Bowl seat prices still have a long way to fall. “I believe these are going to go down to $500,” he said. And how does one get the best deal? “Wait until the day of the game, and then you’d go over there to the stadium.” As for worries about scams and counterfeit tickets, here’s his suggestion: “If you go with a friend and you buy two tickets, you tell the people, ‘Let my friend go in first, once he goes in, then I give you the money.’ Because they have a lot of fakes that look real good.”