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Super Bowl 50’s crazy ticket prices drop slightly, but Niner fans still left out

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SANTA CLARA — Super Bowl ticket prices are starting to drop significantly but could still wind up being the highest in history, and it turns out nearly all of the 49ers fans who paid big bucks to help fund Levi’s Stadium won’t be getting the big game tickets they were hoping for.

The average cost to get into the Super Bowl was about $4,800 to $5,000 depending on the resale site over the weekend — down by as much as $1,000 in the past two weeks but still roughly 60 percent higher than the typical NFL title game this decade.

The cost of the cheapest available ticket online has dipped to $2,800 for the first time after hovering above $4,000 just two weeks earlier, while the cost of the most luxurious seats have fallen by as much as 50 percent. And while it’s fairly typical that prices drop as big games draw nearer, it’s happening at a faster rate than normal and represents a reversal from the last-minute price surge that occurred last year.

Still, the tickets remain way too expensive for most fans — including 49ers fans who paid thousands of dollars for seat licenses in exchange for face-value tickets to events at Levi’s Stadium. Some of those season ticket holders said they were told they would have a leg up in securing Super Bowl tickets, but now most of them have been shut out.

The team held a private lottery this week to dole out an undisclosed number of tickets to seat license holders, but dozens of fans contacted for this story said they didn’t win the drawing or know of anyone who did, and the web was abuzz with questions over how few people actually won. Many compared it to playing Powerball.

The seat license holders criticized the 49ers for the lack of communication on the lottery and the last-minute timing of the drawing. They would have appreciated either a rare chance to attend the Super Bowl or sell them to defray the debt they incurred buying the seats at the stadium, which originally cost $2,000 to $80,000 each but have plummeted in value on the resale market.

“I was really shocked and disappointed we didn’t get the tickets, since we have 11 seat (licenses) and have had tickets for 43 years,” said William Szpor, 50, a teacher in Fresno. He said he won’t bother trying to buy marked-up tickets on resale sites because they cost “crazy money.”

The 49ers said they received a little less than 3,000 tickets from the NFL, which runs the game, and first had to dole out tickets to sponsors, partners, suite holders and those who bought the priciest seat licenses, on the 50-yard line. The NFL also offered tickets to some local politicians and league sponsors. The 49ers declined to say how many tickets were in the lottery but provided names of five people who won.

The one winner who returned a message for comment said the process played out so late that he and his wife will have to pause their current vacation and fly back to attend the game. They also weren’t told where their seats would be or how much they would cost (face value runs from $850 to $3,000 per ticket).

“It seems that it is very last-minute when it could have been determined much earlier,” said the winner, Steve DeMaestri, 65, of Los Altos. Still, he’s excited to have won: “Since we are senior citizens, we felt this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the Super Bowl, and the diversion from our scheduled itinerary will be memorable.”

Other seat license holders questioned the 49ers for not making any information available about the number of people who actually won.

“I thought the process was nonexistent, to be honest. There was no transparency whatsoever,” said Nav Kainth, whose family has six seat licenses. He said he’s spoken to roughly two-dozen people who have seat licenses and got the same response from each: they didn’t win. A separate 49ers fan page message board also yielded several responses — all from losers.

Still, virtually all teams have a Super Bowl ticket lottery, and it’s not common for teams to release information on the winners. The 49ers noted they received 5 percent of all Super Bowl tickets (the Broncos and Panthers each received 17.5 percent, while all other teams each got 1.2 percent) and said they were “proud” that they all went to various team “customers.” “While we wish we could accommodate all requests (from seat license holders), we understand the NFL has 32 teams to accommodate, including the participating teams, which receive the largest allocations,” Niners spokesman Bob Lange said in a statement.

And other fans don’t blame the Niners, saying the team was upfront from the start that they’d have virtually no chance to get Super Bowl tickets and never planned on being able to go.

“I think that the lottery process is as fair as it can be. You can’t give tickets to every (seat license) holder for the Super Bowl,” said season ticket holder Matt Jensen, of Tracy.

Anyone still without a ticket must scour websites looking for deals — and while the prices are beginning to look better, they remain the highest in Super Bowl history thanks largely to the rich Bay Area market and its attraction as a destination for out-of-towners.

The ticket site aggregator TiqIQ found that the average ticket was listed for around $6,000 a week ago, then it dropped to $5,800 by Thursday and fell further to $4,980 on Saturday and $4,860 on Sunday.

Looking at the cheapest possible ticket, two weeks ago on StubHub it was $4,050, then it fell to $3,125 on Friday, only to hit $2,800 on Sunday.

On the other end of the spectrum, the priciest luxury boxes available are now about $300,000 after the highest-priced suites had once been on sale for more than $500,000, though it’s unclear how many of the priciest suites sold out at the higher cost. And club seat prices have fallen by as much as 50 percent, said Patrick Ryan, co-founder of the resale ticket company Eventellect.

And on the 100-level, the closest seats to the action, the cheapest ticket has dropped from $4,140 to $3,400 in the past week, per TiqIQ.

Still, the average ticket sold for Super Bowls earlier this decade was about $3,000, according to StubHub — meaning nosebleed seats for the game at Levi’s Stadium are equal to prices for tickets in the middle of the stadium for recent games.

It’s unclear which direction the ticket market will go in the last week before the game — typically, they drop or remain stable, but last year a shortage of tickets shot the price sky-high in the final days before the game. StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp noted the El Niño weather forecast could also bring down prices, though early reports indicate a dry Sunday in Santa Clara.

The cost will have to drop a lot more before most local football fans even entertain the thought of going to the game.

“If the Niners were in it I would maybe consider the secondary market,” said 49ers season ticket holder Dewayne Deams, of Hayward. “But tickets are too expensive to see two teams I have no rooting interest in, no matter how close the game is to my house.”

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Super Bowl 50 Tickets Settle In At $4,600

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The average price for Super Bowl 50 tickets that have actually been sold on StubHub is currently sitting at just over $4,600 on StubHub. It is a rather insignificant price drop from the average ticket price sold on the secondary ticket operator of $5,134 as of February 1.

Since the start of the month, the average ticket price sold has steadily decreased slightly by the day. Yesterday, the average price sold was approximately $4,700. It was $4,828 the day before that and $4,882 three days ago.

Secondary ticket company SeatGeek has published similar numbers. It claims that the average price per ticket sold on its service is hovering around $4,800.

The Vince Lombardi Trophy sits on the table along with the helmets of the Carolina Panthers and the . [+] Denver Broncos before the start of the NFL Super Bowl 50 press conference February 5, 2016. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Get-in pricing for Super Bowl 50 also appears to be somewhat stable at this point. The cost to watch Super Bowl 50 in person has remained below $3,000 in February.

The cheapest offering on StubHub is currently $2,995 . That number has fluctuated a bit, and was actually as low as $2,700 yesterday. Barring a last minute sell-off, the get-in price will likely remain at a number that is higher than many fans are willing to pay, especially casual fans based in California who may not have a rooting interest for either the Carolina Panthers or the Denver Broncos.

Most buyers for Super Bowl 50 tickets are based in California (32%), followed by the home states of the Broncos and Panthers. The states of North Carolina and Colorado are neck and neck in the battle of ticket purchasing, with Colorado representing 10% of the share of tickets bought on StubHub and North Carolina coming in at 9%. New Yorkers make up 6% of buyers and Texas sits at 5%.

The absolute cheapest StubHub ticket to Super Bowl 50 was purchased for $1,222 with the most expensive one obtained for a price of $27,983 for Lower Prime Club.

Last year, tickets sold to Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona ranged from $856 to $19,000. The average ticket price sold through game day on StubHub also came in lower, at $4,222.

The secondary ticket market for the Super Bowl appears to be showing some positive signs based on last year’s calculations and those recorded thus far for Super Bowl 50. Before Super Bowl XLIX, average ticket prices sold for the Super Bowl had not eclipsed $4,000 since Super Bowl XLI in 2007 (the average was $4,003). In 2014, Super Bowl XLIII in New York between the Broncos and Seattle Seahawks recorded a meager average ticket price sold of $2,516.

Darren Heitner is a lawyer and the Founder of South Florida-based HEITNER LEGAL, P.L.L.C., which has a focus on Sports Law and Entertainment Law.Follow @DarrenHeitner

Darren Heitner is the Founder of HEITNER LEGAL and Founder/Chief Editor of Sports Agent Blog, a leading niche industry publication. He focuses on sports, entertainment,…

The average price for Super Bowl 50 tickets that have actually been sold on StubHub is currently sitting at just over $4,600 on StubHub, while the get-in price is $3,000.