LAS VEGAS — (AP) — Super Bowl ticket prices remain out of reach for many fans who made travel reservations months ago to come to Las Vegas this week, so they'll likely be watching on TV like millions of others.
That's just fine with more than a few of them. They're finding other ways to enjoy themselves.
The NFL Experience looked like a fan convention with throngs of ticket-less people decked out in the jerseys of the Packers, Bengals, Steelers, Eagles and more.
They typically had the same story. Their team looked as if it might have a title shot, so they booked a Super Bowl trip to Las Vegas. Their team didn't make it, but they came anyway. To buy tickets days before the game can be costly. This year they're going for roughly $7,700 — though that is about $2,000 less than they were two weeks ago.
Carl Bray, a Cincinnati fan, booked his trip to the Super Bowl two months ago as his Bengals made a little run despite quarterback Joe Burrow sustaining a wrist injury.
“I don’t have tickets yet, but I got the hotel flight, and I thought ‘Welp, if I lock into something, I’ll go,’” Bray said. “If not, I’ll just go to MGM or someplace and watch it.”
By Saturday, Bray still couldn’t find for a ticket for steal, so was going to watch the game at a Super Bowl party at the M Resort Spa Casino in nearby Henderson.
Historically, Super Bowl tickets have slowly but steeply increased in price, from $12 for a spot in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1967 ($108 today), to surpassing $1,000 for the 2009 tilt between the Steelers and Cardinals in Tampa.
This week, the average purchase price on Tick Pick reached $9,815 before settling back to $7,684 Saturday morning.
That's still too steep for Chiefs fan Rick Goff.
He and his young son Zach came from Kansas City to the desert, and were decked out Chiefs gear at the NFL Experience, but they are not going to be watching their favorite team in person.
“We’re working people,” Rick said, “who can’t afford it.”
Not that he is complaining.
The Goffs decided to come to Vegas right after the Chiefs knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship, making the trip to be surrounded by fellow Kansas City fans for the week with no real expectation of going to the game.
Eric and Stephanie Hubbard are only a three-hour drive from their home in Southern California and booked their trip after the two teams were decided. Eric is a 49ers fan and Stephanie is a Chiefs fan causing what describe as a “civil war” for the couple — but the perfect Super Bowl matchup to see in person.
To make that happen, they say they'll need a good day at one of the casinos.
“Unless we win $6,000 gambling tonight” that's not happening, Eric said Wednesday.
“No, no, no,” Stephanie interjected, “we need $17,000 to get tickets to the game.”
The couple didn't hit a jackpot and left on Friday to watch the game at home on the couch.
Traveling long distances just to watch the big game at one of the casinos isn’t new. Las Vegas has had around 300,000 visitors for past Super Bowls, according to the research center at the Las Vegas Convention Visitors Authority.
This weekend, Las Vegas is expected to have 330,000 visitors for the Super Bowl — roughly five times the capacity of Allegiant Stadium — driving $600 million in economic activity to Southern Nevada.
Delmas Crum, like many, planned the trip before knowing who was going to be in the Super Bowl. He’s a New York Jets fan and booked his trip before Week 1 and Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ season-ending Achilles injury.
Crum came with his father, Troy, who is an Indianapolis Colts fan. They aren’t going to pay the price to watch the Super Bowl in person, but still came because of the lure of Las Vegas and sports betting.
“If nothing else, it’s a vacation to Vegas,” Delmas said. “A trip to Vegas and also there’s a Super Bowl happening here, so we can bet on it, watch it and have a good time taking in the atmosphere.”
Spencer Ripchik is a student in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State.
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