Want a ticket to the Super Bowl? It'll cost you

A team that has never won a Super Bowl.

The chance to see Peyton Manning play in what could be his final game.

When the Carolina Panthers (17-1) and the Denver Broncos (14-4) meet in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday, those two storylines underscore what could be an epic game.

But if you want tickets, it’ll cost you.

Almost two weeks ago, the average resale ticket price was more than $5,000, said Chris Leyden, content analyst with SeatGeek, a site that tracks the secondary ticket market.

Historically, on the day the AFC and NFC title games determine the Super Bowl contenders, that number has been a little below $4,000, Leyden said.

Most football fans don’t have a prayer of getting a face-value ticket, which started at about $850. The NFL sets the prices and divvies up those tickets, giving 17.5 percent to each competing team, with the rest going to other NFL teams as well as a very small percentage to a public lottery.

That leaves the secondary market and companies like SeatGeek for everyone else. SeatGeek is an aggregator for people who want to sell their tickets to sporting and entertainment events. Consumers can compare and shop for the best deal.

Leyden said there are several factors figuring into the high demand and cost of this year’s tickets. Until the NFC Championship Game, where the Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals, the demand for tickets was mostly in the wealthy San Francisco Bay region, which hasn’t seen a Super Bowl played there since 1985. Sunday’s game will be played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Leyden suspects that the higher prices are tied to the wealth of the Bay region and residents being able to afford thousands of dollars for a ticket.

But that doesn’t mean Panthers and Broncos fans aren’t trying their best to get there.

Leyden said he’s seen a lot of demand from fans in North Carolina, more than he was expecting given the travel involved.

Leyden said the Panthers’ standout season has many people seeing them as the favorite to win. Throw in whispers on the Broncos’ side that this could be quarterback Manning’s last season and you’ve got the right ingredients to make fans want to attend the game.

But take away all that and the Super Bowl is still the biggest sporting event of the year.

It’s got a magic that the other sports don’t have, said Todd McFall, a sports economist at Wake Forest.

“The NFL has become hugely, hugely popular,” he said. “It’s by far the most popular of the four professional leagues.”

Panthers fans who are still hoping to get to the game shouldn’t give up hope. While Leyden said prices held pretty steady last week, they’ve started to fall 15 to 20 percent this week. He said the cheapest tickets on SeatGeek late Tuesday morning were $3,200, down from just under $4,000 on Monday. And Leyden added that prices usually continue to fall — as much as 35 to 40 percent.

“We’ll have tickets all the way up to the game,” he said.