In my family, half of us are Patriots fans (myself included) and the other half are Jaguar fans—so last weekend’s playoff game was an intense one!

Unfortunately, all of us will be watching the Super Bowl from our couches with chili and beer in hand rather than with the thousands of fans at the stadium. It’s easy to understand why, since the Super Bowl is very expensive.

But, is there a way to get their cheaper? The answer is yes—but cheaper still doesn’t mean cheap. Here’s the true cost going to the Super Bowl.

Cost of the tickets

Be warned, some Super Bowl tickets cost the same as a brand new car or a pretty nice vacation package. This varies year after year, however. This year’s prices actually dropped 25 percent after the Vikings lost to the Eagles.

Currently, through ticketmaster, one seat on the 50-yard line is over $25,000. The cheapest ticket through ticketmaster right now, is $3,588 in the upper corner of the stadium.

But, chances are, tickets will drop a little bit more right before the game.

Calculating the best time to buy tickets isn’t an exact science and changes year-to-year depending on who’s playing. But, in the past, a few days before the game is the best time to buy tickets. SeatGeek’s Super Bowl ticket tracker can help you determine when you’ll get the cheapest tickets.

However, there are a few other ways to get Super Bowl tickets.

Season ticket holders are entered into a lottery

Every year, NFL season ticker holders are entered into a lottery to win free tickets to the Super Bowl. Becoming a season ticket holder obviously isn’t the most budget friendly way to get tickets, however.

Radio contests 

Every year, radio stations offer contests where you can win Super Bowl tickets. For example, this year, SiriusXM gave away tickets. Unfortunately, the contest ended on January 24th.

Even if you can’t win tickets on the radio, you can win a Super Bowl party. 101.7 The Bull in Boston is offering a contest where you could win a 50 inch TV, a $250 Patriots Pro Shop gift card, and a $100 gift card for food!

Next year, check your local radio stations if your team heads to the Super Bowl.

Sweepstakes

Radio stations aren’t the only ones who offer free tickets to the Super Bowl. Usually sponsored by the teams themselves, or the large companies that sponsor the game, there are a number of sweepstakes you can enter.

Your best bet is to search online in November and December for these contests. But know that winning tickets is a long shot.

Driving vs. flying

Where you live will obviously determine how much you’ll have to spend on travel. This year’s Super Bowl is at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

If you’re committed enough to drive, you’ll have to consider how much a parking pass will be.

For a parking pass 0.9 miles away from the venue, you’ll pay about $30. The closer you get the more you pay—the highest ticket being over $1,000. Obviously, if you’re on any sort of budget, you’ll have to settle for walking a ways.

Unfortunately, no one really knows what teams are going to the Super Bowl each year, so if your favorite team doesn’t make it, it might not be worth going. If you need to fly, waiting until the last minute isn’t budget-friendly, but there aren’t many other options.

Your first step should be to use sites like Google Flights or Skyscanner to track cheap flights. Also, check out Expedia, Kayak, and other similar travel sites to find the best deals. In addition, here are a few other tips for traveling last minute:

  • Use your airline miles—There is a reason you’ve been saving all those miles, using them to pay for a last minute flight is a great idea.
  • Take a really early or red-eye flight.
  • Take a flight with multiple stops—These are always cheaper than non-stop flights.
  • Consider booking a flight-hotel deal through travel sites.

Now to the question of accommodations. If you have to stay over night and want to save money, we have a couple of suggestions.

Book with Airbnb

There’s a reason Airbnb and other short-term rental sites are so popular. Luckily, in large cities like Minneapolis, you can find rooms or entire apartments easily for under $100.

If you’re further away from the stadium, however, make sure you take into account whatever transportation such as a bus, Uber, or taxi you’ll need to take to get there.

Hotel

While hotels tend to be more expensive than rooms through Airbnb, you can find more closer to US Bank Stadium. Currently, you can get a few rooms less than a mile away for under $100. This way, you can simply walk to the stadium.

Next to the game itself, tailgating is the most exciting part of football. Who doesn’t love grilling and drinking with other fans who are just as passionate about the game as you?

While this is the least costly part of the game, it’s still something consider, especially if you’re the one providing the food and beer.

Based on the amount of food my mom makes for just a few of us when we watch the game at my parents’ house, providing food to the host of people that may be a part of your tailgating party will cost you a pretty penny.

But, that leads me to my next point.

Throw a party instead

TVs these days offer a picture that’s nearly as good as the real thing. If you have a friend with a high-definition TV, encourage them to throw a Super Bowl party—it’s the least they can do what with their obvious riches that affords them a nice TV.

Or, if you’re more into hosting, have all your guests bring something—that cuts down on the cost.

If you want a more realistic Super Bowl experience, get together and go tailgating somewhere, or hit up one of the sports bars where larger groups will make the atmosphere even more exciting.

Credit cards to help you pay for NFL purchases?

If you’re really into saving for NFL related expenses, you might want to consider getting the NFL Extra Points credit card by Barclays. Of course, you should never sign-up for a credit card just to get rewards if you can’t pay in full each month.

As far as the NFL Extra Points card goes, there are a number of great benefits. First of all, it has a pretty good cash back introductory offer.

You can Earn 10,000 bonus points after $500 in purchases in the first 90 days, which is enough to redeem for $100 cash back. There are also a variety of NFL specific benefits—hence the name of the card. They include:

  • Two points per dollar on NFL and Team purchases and earn one point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 20 percent off purchases at NFLShop.com—that’s $20 off every $100 you spend
  • A 0 percent promotional APR for six months on NFL ticket purchases. After that, a variable APR will apply.

So, what’s the true cost of going to the Super Bowl?

That, of course, depends on a variety of factors. But let’s take a look at what an extravagant trip to the big game might cost, and then how someone might get there as cheaply as possible.

Here are our only assumptions, for the purpose of making this calculation possible:

  • You live in New York (if not, adjust the travel costs accordingly).
  • You’ll be coming alone.
  • You’ll be eating two meals in Minneapolis and staying one night in the city.

The expensive option

  • Ticket price: $19,500 for the best seat (tickets have already dropped in price from $25,000 earlier in the week).
  • Travel expenses: $853.
  • Accommodations: Currently, most of the hotels are booked up, but the Snelling Motel has a room for $500 a night.
  • Meals: Since you probably want to try one of Minneapolis’s nicer restaurants, let’s look at the price of a meal at Butcher & The Boar. The Wood Grilled Oysters as an app will cost $17.00. A couple different steak options hover around $58. And a beer will cost $7. That’s a total of $82. We’re going to double that since we’re going to assume you want breakfast as well.
  • Beer: US Bank Stadium will be charging a lot more than they normally would because, hey, it’s the Super Bowl and they can. A craft beer will run you $9 a drink. So, let’s say you get three beers. That’s $27 just for drinks.

Grand total: $21, 044.

The “cheap” option

  • Ticket price: $3,969 for the cheapest seat in the stadium.
  • Travel expenses: You’re looking to save money, so you decide to drive instead. The drive will be 1,202 miles, during which you’ll use up almost 50 gallons of gas. So assuming you pay $2.57 per gallon, you’ll be out $127. That said, it’s a long trip – more than 18 hours of driving. Assuming you’re a beast and drive it all in 2 days, you’ll still need to factor in the costs of one night’s stay in a motel. It’ll cost you an extra $70 for a night at a motel in the buzzing town of Elkhart, Indiana, which is around half way between New York and Minneapolis.
  • Accommodations: You can get a private room on Airbnb for $30 a night.
  • Meals: Let’s assume you’re going for budget food so you stick to the 123 dollar menu at McDonald’s. A cheeseburger is $1, any size drink is $1 and a small fries is $1.39. Let’s round up to $4 with tax and multiply that by two – one for dinner and one for breakfast. That’s $8.
  • Beer: Even though you’re on a budget, it’s the Super Bowl, so let’s say you have two drinks at $9 each.

Grand total: $4,222

Summary

Going to the Super Bowl can cost upwards of $25,000 (or, currently $19,000) for the best tickets, or a couple thousand if you’re looking to stick to a tighter budget. That’s still not cheap by any means. At Money Under 30 we like to preach financial prudence, so unless you’re massively wealthy, we’d recommend you watch the game on TV and invest your money in your retirement instead.

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