Let’s say a rabid Denver Broncos fan decided to go to the Super Bowl to cheer on his team. How much would it cost?
We looked into that on Tuesday afternoon (January 26). The time we searched is important, because a devoted fan would have started booking things in the Bay Area as soon as his team wrapped up the AFC championship game against the Patriots last Sunday. Since then, things have been booking up fast.
We were advised as much by a number of websites we looked at for our hypothetical February 6-8 trip. Once they got the dates and the destination, the sites would display — often in red type — messages like “this is a period of heavy demand” or “going fast — book now.”
The game is in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California — at the far south end of San Francisco Bay, next to San Jose. But most fly-in fans will probably come in through SFO and stay in San Francisco (more flights, better restaurants, accommodations, and parties) about 40 minutes away.
Someone who spent hours and hours searching the web might be able to find better prices, but here’s the thing: You don’t have hours and hours. Here’s what we found:
THE BIG GAME: $4,000+
The first step is to secure a game ticket. At events ticketing giant Stubhub, we learned that as of Tuesday, the lowest-price tickets were going for $3,906 — oops, just looked again and they went up to $4,200 — and that’s for a seat high above the end zone. Closer to midfield, but still in nosebleed territory, tickets started at $4,040. (The 50-yard line close to the field? That’ll set you back $25,000 per ticket — and there are only two left as of Tuesday afternoon!) Oh, and don’t forget the $80 stadium parking fee if you drive.
AIR FARE: $700+
Both JetBlue and Southwest have scheduled a few extra flights from Denver to the Bay Area for game weekend.
But when we searched on Southwest for our February 6-8 schedule, we couldn’t get any westbound non-stops to either SFO or San Jose — they were sold out. The best deal was a $768 roundtrip to SFO via a connection through Phoenix westbound and a non-stop return flight. To San Jose, Southwest’s best was $810 roundtrip via Phoenix in both directions.
So we tried to cast our net a bit wider by trying Kayak.com and had better luck — DEN-SFO non-stops in both directions at reasonable times for $717 roundtrip (westbound on Frontier, back on JetBlue).
JetBlue, which does not normally offer nonstops on the DEN-SFO route, had a few seats left for Friday departures and Monday returns at $741 round trip.
To find a room, we turned to Trivago, which searches across multiple booking sites for the best rates. San Francisco has thousands of hotel rooms, but they all heard about the game and took the opportunity to raise rates to what they think the market will bear. The best deal we found for our two-night stay was a quote of $848 at the Mark Twain, a modest three-star property a few blocks from Union Square.
Not nice enough? The Stanford Court is nicer, rated at four stars, and a two-night quote of $2,710 for a room with a queen bed — and there were only a couple of those left.
Want to save money by staying closer to the game in Santa Clara? Don’t count on it: The best two-night rates we could find — for bargain-basement two-star properties in Santa Clara — were $918 at the Best Western and $950 at the Mission Inn. But based on the screaming admonitions on the booking pages (“We have 1 room left!” the Mission Inn warned), those are probably gone by now. Better stick with San Francisco.
Better yet, consider Airbnb. Its website shows a number of San Francisco rentals at rates better than hotels. The lowest one we found for Super Bowl weekend (not counting a room in someone’s house or apartment) was a two-bedroom apartment in the Mission District with a two-night rate of $440. Oh, wait — that doesn’t include the $90 cleaning fee, a $64 “service fee,” and $74 in occupancy taxes. Still, the $668 total is less than a hotel that weekend.
Unless you want to take your chances with Uber’s surge pricing on game day — we can only shudder to think what a ride from downtown to Santa Clara and back would cost — you’ll need a car. And that wasn’t bad, relatively speaking. Expedia steered us to the Payless counter at SFO, which was offering a two-day rental of a mid-sized car for just $158.
So adding that all up, the total for our bare-bones options comes to $5,583 for one person with air fare, a rental car, Airbnb, and a game ticket that requires binoculars if you want to really see the action on the field. And it doesn’t include parking at your hotel, meals, drinks, or a souvenir Peyton Manning jersey.
On second thought, what’s wrong with a big-screen TV, a six-pack and a pizza back in Denver?
Have you ever been to the Super Bowl? Would you pay $5,000+ to see your team play? Please leave your comments below.
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