About one-third of Super Bowl tickets go to the 30 NFL teams not playing in the game. NFL rules state that those tickets are not to be sold for a profit on the secondary market, but that’s where some can be found as the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles prepare to meet in Super Bowl LII on Sunday, according to ticket brokers
One broker told USA TODAY Sports that about 80% of the tickets he’s had up for sale this week — with prices starting at $3,500 apiece — came directly from players and coaches and from their agents. The broker was granted anonymity because the practice of selling those tickets is banned by the NFL.
Players can purchase two tickets under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, which states the tickets are “subject to reasonable safeguards to avoid scalping of the tickets.” That doesn’t count the bigger allotment that goes to the teams involved in the Super Bowl.
“NFL personnel cannot resell above face value,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
Face value for Sunday’s game starts at $950, but the players often get tickets that run $1,250, the broker said. Seats in that range were available on secondary-market websites such as StubHub and TickPick for about $4,000 on Saturday night.
TickPick has its ticket distribution site for Super Bowl LII set up in a downtown Minneapolis hotel and the company’s co-CEO Brett Goldberg told USA TODAY Sports some of the brokers he’s spoken with this week get much of their inventory from players.
“There are going to be certain brokers who have relationships with agents and players,” Goldberg said. “That’s their angle.”
The broker who spoke to USA TODAY Sports said it’s players who are “35 through 53” on the roster who are the most likely to resell their Super Bowl tickets.
“The players you are talking about here usually aren’t the ones making multimillion dollars,” Goldberg said.
The practice has been going on for at least several years. In 2015, shortly after Super XLIX, a unnamed defensive player for the Seattle Seahawks told SI.com he sold eight tickets for between $3,000 to $4,000, and that most of the players were aware of the opportunity.
Some NFL teams make players pick up their tickets at the site of the Super Bowl, but with dozens of players roaming around the Mall of America this week — site of radio row and other player appearances — that’s not exactly a deterrent.
Goldberg said Saturday afternoon about 900 tickets had come onto TickPick’s site over the previous 24 hours. While brokers in town prefer to sell tickets to fans directly since they don’t have to pay the fees charged by secondary ticket sites, they still often list the seats for sale on multiple sites at once.
And while many brokers have preexisting relationships with players and their agents, Goldberg said brokers are known to go to parties in the days leading up the game with wads of cash to purchase tickets from players and anyone else looking to offload the seats.
“Brokers will hear you have a ticket and they’ll say, ‘Hey, I have $2,500 cash. Want me to buy your ticket from you?’” Goldberg said. “It’s one thing for them to list the ticket on TickPick and you can make $2,500 or $3,000 versus somebody offering you $2,500 or $3,000 in cash right now.”
Such transactions are legal in Minnesota, which — like many jurisdictions over the years — repealed their laws that prohibit selling tickets for above face value more than a decade ago.
There’s only been one major Super Bowl ticket scalping scandal and it involved a Vikings coach. Mike Tice was fined $100,000 and assistant coaches Dean Dalton and Rusty Tillman were each fined $10,000 each in 2005.
The NFL sells luxury ticket packages through its On Location Experiences service. The outlet sells the tickets as part of packages with concerts and other experiences, which range in price this week from $6,299 to $13,499. Those packages have sold out, although PrimeSport — which the NFL purchased in December — had more than 100 seats listed with the cheapest seat on sale for $2,600 about 24 hours before Sunday’s 6:30 pm kickoff.
While the NFL’s rules against selling tickets also applies to coaches and team employees, the teams themselves are exempt to a degree. They are allowed to sell tickets above face value as long as they’re sold as part of a sponsorship deal where the tickets are bundled as part of travel packages.
But Goldberg said it’s not unusual for teams to sell their ticket allotment directly to brokers.
“Some brokers are getting them almost exclusively from the teams,” Goldberg said. “If you’re a broker with a front-door deal with the team, where you buy 500 season tickets during the regular season, it’s reasonable to expect you’re going to get Super Bowl tickets from that team.”