The Super Bowl will be played Sunday night less than five miles from my house. I've never been closer to the premier sporting event of the nation's most popular sport, yet I might as well be on the other side of the country.
Put simply average football fans can not, in any way, afford to attend the Super Bowl.
Let's start with a basic ticket. Face value tickets this year, the cheapest official price available, are $800. Per ticket. For one seat. To watch one football game. If the game takes four and a half hours to play exactly (270 minutes), that equates to $2.96 per minute of entertainment. That's the equivalent of a $355 movie ticket for a two hour movie.
Name me one person not currently under some level of psychiatric care willing to pay $355 a ticket to watch two hours' worth of any sort of entertainment.
I know, I know. It's The Super Bowl (imagine authoritative timpani drums bellowing in the background when you read that, or a chorus of angels singing an airy Halleluha).
Well, step back for a minute and consider what you're paying for: the right to sit in a small seat, hundreds of feet away from the field, and endure endless, monotonous television timeouts. That's it.
I don't know if you've ever been to a regular season NFL game, but they're quite boring in person. Canned music is piped into the sound system. The players move like a group of 22 disinterested employees. In between plays you might as well read a book.
Then you start to wonder why you've been able to finish the first half of "Bleak House" before halftime and realize the officials are standing around and nothing happens for about ten minutes once every quarter hour. Then it hits you that while you're either losing six pounds in sweat under the sun or your fingertips are turning black with frostbite, the league is paying its bills.
Now extrapolate that to the Super Bowl, where it's long been known to be the venue to unveil new ad campaigns.
So you're paying $2.96 per minute for all that. And keep in mind that $800 ticket, the cheapest available, just gets you through the gate.
Round trip airfare this week from Phoenix to Tampa is reportedly hovering around $2,400 a ticket. Hotel rooms, most with minimum night stay requirements, tack on another several hundred dollars. And that's just to get here and stay here. I won't even touch food, drink, and local transportation.
Now tell me how your average NFL fan, the one who has a jersey in their closet, maybe a flag to fly out front of their house on game day and goes to one or two games a year, is supposed to afford all that. Never mind the current economic climate.
The NFL needs to act quickly to curtail this trend. The league runs the risk of alienating the very people who have turned the NFL into a money printing enterprise.
P.T. Barnum famously (though probably improperly) has been credited with saying "there's a sucker born every minute." This Sunday night you'll get to see roughly 75,000 of them in Raymond James Stadium.
I'll be about five miles away with the best seat in the house.
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