Ever Wonder What It’s Like To Attend A Super Bowl?

Picture of a Super Bowl XXXVIII ticket stub, courtesy of Chris Rose

February 3, 2021

The biggest Bucket List item for many American sports fans is going to a Super Bowl.

In America, football is the most popular sport and the Super Bowl is pro football’s centerpiece. Even this year during a global pandemic — when just 25 percent of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. will host fans – demand dictates a get-in price of close to $6,000 per seat. Many others will partake in the parties and other festivities throughout the week without even attending the game.

Outside of waiting for your favorite team to advance to The Big Game, the price and scarcity of the event also keeps most fans away from going to the game.

Still, ever wonder what it’s like to attend a Super Bowl? Who are the types of people that even get tickets? What are the types of activities happening during Super Bowl week? How is it like to be in the stadium for the game?

Let’s take you inside the proverbial locker room to answer some of these questions.

So How Do You Get Tickets?

The Super Bowl never goes on public sale like a concert does yet for a price, anyone can buy tickets. So how do tickets become available? How do people re-selling tickets get their inventory?

“Not much has changed in this respect, the ticket business is much like any other business,” said Lance Patania, CEO of Prominent Tickets, who has been working Super Bowls for over 25 years. “You have your contacts, your network of people who can provide the product that you sell.”

The network of people include that inner circle of NFL players, coaches, sponsors and partners who get access to Super Bowl tickets. This pool of people use tickets for themselves or their clients and associates but many others decide to make a deal with ticket brokers, who then re-sell to clients or post them for sale on ticket exchanges like StubHub or Ticket Network. Tickets are distributed by “zones,” so ticket buyers know the section(s) they will sit in but not the exact seats until they receive the tickets, which are mostly hand delivered a day or two before the game.

Perhaps because of this – there are real though rare ticket fiascos after all – even fans can get antsy.

“I want to say it was Arizona, we were delivering seats out of our hotel. The market was super hot and the public was very well aware of this,” remembered Patania. “We had given all of our customers a pick up location that was actually the hotel we were staying at. Pick up was on the Saturday before the game. Well, somehow the customers found our room and were literally stalking us day and night to make sure that we delivered their tickets on the promised date. They were stalking us from Wednesday on. It was bizarre. We considered moving hotels, but there were no rooms available. We ended up delivering every seat. That year was a complete nightmare.”

What Is There To Do Outside Of The Game?

The Super Bowl has become a destination event for many Americans. There is not only a small crew of diehard fans who have attended each Super Bowl ever played, there are many big football fans who go and just party all weekend.

There are events for all types of fan demographics. First, the NFL’s Super Bowl Experience provides a family-friendly atmosphere for all things NFL. This is where you would go to get an autograph of an NFL Hall of Famer, throw a football for prizes and other activities like that.

The NFL and corporate hospitality companies provide full accommodation packages. These are premium packages for companies entertaining clients or for diehard fans with the disposable income to reserve these all-inclusive packages.

Then there is the nightlife part of Super Bowl weekend. There are the high-profile parties – Maxim, Playboy and Sports Illustrated to name a few – right down to the nightclubs and bars in the host city, as NFL players and fans descend on the city to have a good time. “It is basically a week of gluttony,” said Patania.

How Is The Experience At The Game?

Chris Rose is a TV executive who got his ticket through his girlfriend at the time, who had a connection at ESPN. Rose had a memorable experience in Houston, Texas, the host site in 2004. His seats (ticket pictured above) were down low near the goal post. He also could say he was at a game with a couple of infamous non-football moments.

“This game was the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake wardrobe malfunction game,” recalled Rose. “[I] didn’t see the incident happen, since it happened so fast. But, I remember getting lots of text messages on my phone asking me if I saw what happened.”

“The other crazy thing that happened — and no one in the TV audience saw — happened before the second half kick-off,” Rose remembered. “Famous streaker Mark Roberts dressed as a referee, stripped naked and then ran down the field, before he was knocked to the ground by a [New England] Patriots player.”

What Are The Best Super Bowl Cities?

It is no coincidence that the two cities that have hosted the most Super Bowls are Miami and New Orleans.

“Miami! Without a doubt [is the best Super Bowl city],” said Jose Benavides, who has worked with Patania for many years. “Beautiful weather in February!” Miami has been the home for a record eleven Super Bowls, while the Big Easy is a close second with ten. New Orleans is also a popular BCS National Championship site.

Both Benavides and Patania, maybe surprisingly, cited Indianapolis, Ind. as one of the most convenient Super Bowl cities, along with New Orleans and Atlanta. Some markets like New York City or Los Angeles may have the different festivities far away from each other whereas a place like Indianapolis was as Benavides said “well done” because “everything you needed was within a square mile.”

Regardless of where the game takes place, the Super Bowl indeed is still a Bucket List experience.

“All cites are fun, even if the city is not fun outside of Super Bowl week,” said Patania. “With all of the pomp and circumstance during Super Bowl week, it becomes a great city.”

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