Super Bowl tickets are expensive and highly coveted, which leaves even the most savvy of fans susceptible to scams and counterfeit tickets.
So how can football fans protect themselves and ensure they have a legitimate ticket while still getting the best deal?
The NFL’s site says Super Bowl tickets already have several security devices in place including: “holograms, custom laser cutouts, thermachromic ink and a specially-made gloss varnish. A counterfeit ticket may be missing one or even several of these or other security features.”
It continues, “The NFL also provides you with a secure, official resale marketplace to purchase your Super Bowl tickets, the NFL Ticket Exchange. Buying online from a non-NFL affiliate may be risky since there is no way of knowing if a ticket is real until game time. Even if a ticket looks real, it may be one that has been reported lost or stolen, which means the person holding it will not be granted entry into the stadium.”
The point of not knowing if a ticket is real until game time is a very important consideration.
As I discovered firsthand, sometimes a seemingly good ticket purchased through a legitimate venue will even get you through the gate. You may not discover your ticket is counterfeit until you’ve already taken your seat.
Several years ago, we purchased tickets for an NFL game on StubHub.com. The tickets worked fine at the gate and we excitedly took our seats.
We didn’t discover our tickets were counterfeit until right before kickoff when two men with tickets for the same seats approached us and claimed we were in their spots.
Long story short, even though we had purchased our tickets through a legitimate venue and the bar code worked at the gate, they turned out to be fake.
StubHub stayed true to their guarantee and refunded our tickets, but no one wants to get to a game or travel across the country, only to be kicked out of their seats. The stadium rep told us it happens all the time and advised only buying through official vendors.
Which leaves fans to wonder, how can they prevent this from happening to them?
Stub Hub spokesperson Cameron Papp said, “The Super Bowl is our most popular event of the year and we take a number of different precautions than with other events.”
This includes not allowing sellers to mail or email tickets to buyers. Sellers are required to send their tickets directly to Stub Hub so the company can verify the tickets are legitimate. Once authenticity is verified, buyers can then pick up their tickets from a designated Stub Hub location near the stadium.
Papp added that with all those precautions in place, “In 13 years, we haven’t had one fraudulent Super Bowl ticket.”
Ticketmaster is the official ticket exchange for the NFL and realizes people will seek out tickets from a variety of sources. That being said, the company has a number of guidelines to help keep fans from getting scammed, regardless of where they purchase tickets.
Jenn Swanson, Marketing Communications Director at Ticketmaster, says the company advises, “buyer beware”, because scammers work everywhere.
She also said a lot of scammers will still go through legitimate ticket vending sites because they know they’re more likely to sell their tickets that way.
And even the most savvy of fans can fall victim to a scam.
Swanson cited the case of 49ers fan Sharon Osgood– normally cautious and not easily fooled– who came to Ticketmaster’s attention last year after a seller on Craigslist duped her.
The seller sounded trustworthy, presented himself as an investment banker, and everything sounded good, so she wired him $10,000 for Super Bowl tickets. In return, she received an envelope with nothing but a note that said, “Go Ravens! LOL!”
Fortunately, TicketMaster bailed her out, but most fans aren’t that lucky and in desperation for a good deal might forego the usual precautions.
Fans don’t necessarily have to resort to scalpers or unscrupulous sellers to find a better deal.
To get the best price possible, Swanson advises, “Know where you want to sit and what you want to pay. Don’t just go by the list of tickets. Use the interactive map because sometimes you’ll find a ticket for a lower price in a better spot that way.”
Waiting for better deals closer to Super Bowl day usually isn’t a good option either.
Swanson said, “Typically prices get lower closer to an event, but we don’t see that with the Super Bowl.”
This year might be an exception though.
Fewer than 3,000 tickets were left on the resale market as of last Thursday and prices have been fluctuating daily on Ticketmaster’s site, according to Swanson. Thursday afternoon the average price was $3,877 for one ticket while earlier in the day it was $2,126 per ticket.
This afternoon, the NFL Ticket Exchange shows prices starting at $1705, so perhaps Super Bowl 48 will buck the trend.
The official NFL site for Super Bowl tickets is NFLTicketExchange.com.
Super Bowl XLVIII will air February 2, 2014 at 6:30pm EST on FOX.