How will Super Bowl 2014 tickets sell on secondary market?

The NFL logo at the fifty yard line The NFL logo at the fifty yard line for Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. (Jan. 15, 2014) Photo Credit: J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept. ...

Part of the point of Super Bowl XLVIII is to venture into the unknown, in every aspect from the weather to travel logistics to what might happen if you close Broadway for 14 blocks for several days in the middle of a workweek.

Here's another: ticket prices on the secondary market.

"More so than any other Super Bowl, this one is a mystery," said Glenn Lehrman, head of communications for the resale site StubHub.com. "Usually we can tell fairly accurately what we would anticipate in ticket sales; I don't think we have any clue this time."

There always are variables, of course, but this big game has bigger ones than most.

First, there is the weather, which if it is forecast to be good, presumably will increase demand, and if it is bad, will suppress it. Then there is the metropolitan area itself, home to more people and more money than any other in the nation, theoretically creating upward pressure on prices.

Finally, as for any Super Bowl, there is the matter of the teams involved. While in football and TV ratings terms there are no bad potential matchups, some are better than others for driving ticket prices.

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Lehrman and Nima Moayedi, CEO of the resale site Razorgator.com, agreed the Seahawks would be more attractive than the 49ers, despite Seattle being a smaller market and the 49ers having more of a national following. That is because the 49ers have been there before, as recently as last season, while Seahawks fever has gripped the Pacific Northwest.

Razorgator data shows that region so far has bought the most Super Bowl tickets among those of the four conference finalists. Also, Seahawks fans spent 24.5 percent more for home-game tickets this season than did 49ers fans.

While Moayedi said the Patriots, because of their proximity, would best drive demand on the AFC side, Lehrman named the Broncos because of "a little too much Boston fatigue" among Patriots fans who have been there, done that.

(Other than the Jets and Giants, what team would have yielded the highest prices? "Philadelphia," Lehrman said.)

That leaves the other two variables. The Gotham factor likely will be more important than the weather.

"It's the first Northeast Super Bowl in history, the New York market is saturated with big businesses and wealthy residents, and any of the potential matchups remaining will be marketable," Moayedi said.

Lehrman speculated many of the New York-based executives with access to corporate tickets who normally would have unloaded them instead will use them for themselves, lessening the secondary market supply and pushing up prices.

"That's the question everyone has: How much inventory will be out there starting on Monday?" Lehrman said.

While most Super Bowl tickets are fair game for the secondary market, the least expensive ones on the primary market -- 1,000 tickets sold for $500 apiece through a public lottery -- cannot be resold for a profit. The NFL has implemented a system in which the lottery winners must pick up their tickets at the gate on game day and cannot return to the parking lot in an attempt to sell them.

An NFL spokesman said purchasing tickets on the secondary market is "buyer beware" other than through the NFL Ticket Exchange (in conjunction with Ticketmaster).

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As is often the case with big events, late shoppers with flexible plans could find relative bargains on the secondary market. StubHub will resell tickets until minutes before kickoff at a pregame event in Secaucus (free transportation to MetLife Stadium included).

Most years, prices fall as game time approaches. Two years ago in Indianapolis, some dropped below face value for the Giants-Patriots game. In other years, such as Packers-Steelers in Texas three years ago, there was no drop-off.

All of that will be sorted out by the market once the dust settles after Sunday's games and the last round of tickets is spoken for -- including some as high as $2,500, a record price the NFL set in part to lessen the gap between face values and the secondary market. As of midweek, Razorgator was showing an average asking price of $3,847. On Thursday, prices on StubHub ranged from a low of $2,590 in the upper end zone to $625,600 for a suite.

"I would think, if I were doing my Carnac impersonation, that it will be the most expensive Super Bowl ever," Lehrman said. "As long as the weather is decent."

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