HOUSTON - Super Bowl 51 is just around the corner.
But while it’s the third time the most-watched annual sporting event on television will be in the Bayou City, it is likely most Houstonians will be watching the game from nowhere near the 50-yard line.
“It’s almost impossible to pay face value for a ticket,” said Jack Stopnicki, who owns Ticket Stop, an independent ticket agency in Houston.
The NFL keeps more than 25 percent of the tickets and sells them to media members, sponsors and network partners.
The league said more than 17 percent of the tickets goes to both the AFC and NFC champion, while one percent each goes to the clubs don’t make it to the title game (that comes out to 1.2 percent for the other 29 teams). The host team (i.e., the Houston Texans) keeps 5 percent.
“This is the same breakdown that has existed for a number of years, including the last time the Super Bowl was hosted in Houston,” said Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications at the NFL.
The league’s resale market, called the NFL Ticket Exchange, is offering premium packages where fans can spend upwards of $14,000 on one ticket alone. The league said those packages are part of that percentage they keep.
One of those is the diamond package which the site advertises as “the ultimate Super Bowl experience with the ultimate access.”
Fans are treated to a three hour VIP party at NRG Stadium, VIP concierge service, a 90 minute post-game party including on-field access as well as a meet and greet with NFL legends.
Fans can also head over to StubHub or another resale market where an “upper end zone” seat is available for $3400. But fans won’t know where their seat is until closer to the game.
“NRG Stadium only holds about 70,000 people,” Stopnicki said. “What I’ve learned is that the NFL takes over the venue. This becomes their event, not the Texans or the local.”
McCarthy said teams hold lotteries among their season ticket holders but he said the number of tickets in the lottery is up to the club. Teams hold back some for their sponsors and front office and then put the remaining up for grabs. Player tickets come out of the league allotment on the other hand.
“There will not be an average fan at the game or rather, an average fan that’s not a season ticket holder will have no access to the game,” said Stopnicki, recalling the last time the Super Bowl was in Houston about 1000 fans or 500 season ticket holders got lucky.
The Texans said they don’t go into detail on how the breakdown of the tickets is allocated. There will be a lottery for season ticket members, but “the needs are many and varied.”
“The demand and need far outweigh the number of tickets we receive,” said Amy Palcic, senior director of communications for the Texans.
Stopnicki said to be able to know the true market of what tickets will cost, fans will have to wait until after both the AFC and NFC championships. He said it will be big if, for example, the other big team from Texas is in the game.
“If the Dallas Cowboys are in it, it’s going to make a big difference because obviously they haven’t been in it in a while and it’s 200 miles up the road,” Stopnicki said.
Houston last hosted the Super Bowl in 2004. That marked the first at NRG Stadium which was Reliant back then.
The first game was back in 1974 at Rice Stadium. According to Bleacher Report, the average price of a ticket to that game was just $15.