The Super Bowl has turned into the biggest holiday known to mankind. It's the only day we eat more than on Thanksgiving, praise our beloved athletes more than any religious or political figure and, often, spend more than we did on Christmas gifts.
Yes, the spending. The Super Bowl, football's biggest tournament, fetches bigger price tags for one sporting event than full season passes to see your favorite team. Not to mention that Super Bowl tickets fluctuate in price as quickly as the offense and defense change sides. For this year's game, ticket prices are averaging around $4,300, with the costliest suite going for a hefty $962,000, according to the ticket website TiqIQ.
Attending the Super Bowl takes months of careful financial planning, not just for the triple-to-quadruple-digit ticket costs, but for airfare, lodging and plenty of warm clothing for those fair-weather fans trekking to this year's wintry gridiron match in New Jersey.
And, sometimes, it's impossible to know if you'll be to attend the Super Bowl so far in advance. So, what can you do if you've just become available to trek to the game? How can you save money as a last-minute attendee at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2?
While tickets still demand a premium, there are several Web vendors that can help you find Super Bowl XLVIII tickets that fit your budget - and, with some creative travel and lodging options, you can feel like a million bucks at the game without actually spending a million bucks.
The Ticket to Savings
MetLife Stadium seats about 82,500 people, and with the Broncos and Seahawks facing off in almost a week, it's nearly at capacity. But there are still tickets on the market. According to TiqIQ, the average asking price of a resale-market Super Bowl ticket is about $4,300 - a far, far cry from the climate-controlled, catered stadium suites creeping into seven-figure territory.
If you're looking for available Super Bowl tickets, check out some of these ticket vendors:
--StubHub, an eBay-derived, popular ticket marketplace, has more than 5,000 Super Bowl tickets left, starting at $2,110. If the game is out of your price range, StubHub also offers tickets for the game's media day, MVP party and other related events.
--Excite tickets arranges Super Bowl tickets according to seating arrangement and level in MetLife Stadium, so you can tailor your purchase by price and vantage point. The cheapest seats? Around $1,670.
--QuintEvents specializes in ticket packages for football fans who want to take care of their seats, hotel and other amenities in one purchase. These packages are for Super Bowl weekend (Jan. 31 to Feb. 3) and are priced based on the colored level of your stadium seating (an available sideline-level "Gold" package can run $9,699 without hotel accommodations; the upper deck "Blue" package costs about a third of the price).
--Then there's SeatGeek, an aggregate search website that arranges each for-sale Super Bowl ticket according to its seating location, seller and price.
Get Your Travel Game On
Neither the Broncos nor the Seahawks are from the East Coast, so it's likely many people will be making a long, cross-country trip for the game. That means you'll need to find affordable lodging and transportation once you touch down.
The bad news first: Airfare is what it is. Flights to New York for the weekend of Feb. 2 are still reasonably priced. Roundtrip tickets from Seattle to New York start at $533 and range into the $1,000s, according to travel sites like Expedia and Kayak. Flights from Denver to New York are even cheaper, ranging from $284 to $811. That's not bad, considering you book your seats now, though prices will only go up the longer you wait.
The good news: While in New York, you don't have to do as many New York tourists do and pay inflated prices on transportation and lodging. Some budget-minded alternatives:
--Airbnb. The social media/bed and breakfast hybrid site is a web portal for people looking to rent dwellings or rooms to travelers. A quick search of airbnb.com for two guests to New York City, Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, reveals a number of shared private rooms and full apartments for rent, with the lowest about $40 and more luxurious options in the low $1,000s.
--Craigslist. Believe it or not, the site can produce some game weekend housing options. Many people open their doors for people to join their Super Bowl parties and crash the night for a reasonable price.
--Carpooling. If you're willing to go the communal route when it comes to transportation, there are cheap ways to get to the game once you're at the airport. For example, download the Bandwagon app on your smartphone, agree to share your taxi ride from the airport to the stadium and split the fees. Everyone gets to the game together, and everyone is happy when there's more cash left over for beer and food.
To some, the Super Bowl really is a once-in-a-lifetime event - but that doesn't mean you have to spend your life savings to get there. Ticket and travel prices are high enough even when discounted, so follow some of these tips, enjoy the game and watch the savings add up.
Paul Sisolak writes for GoBankingRates.com, a source for the interest rates on savings accounts, CDs, mortgages, auto loans and more.