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How to Score Cheap NFL Tickets with the SeatGeek Team

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By , dealnews contributor

Another NFL season has arrived! Whether you're wearing Jets green, Raiders black, or Broncos orange, tailgating is a blast. But actually attending games is even more fun — especially when you can secure great stadium seats without selling the jersey on your back.

To find the best ticket deals at the best prices, ticket search engine SeatGeek aggregates secondary-market listings from more than 60 online ticket sites, including StubHub and the NFL's official Ticket Exchange. What's more, they've been collecting seat pricing data since 2009, and have analyzed millions of data points to help predict pricing throughout the season. Not every team can win a Super Bowl ring, but you can still feel like a champ if you follow SeatGeek's tips on various ways to save money on football tickets this fall.

It Pays to Wait Until Game Day for Tickets

When buyers dive into the secondary ticket market, there's an understandable scarcity mentality that kicks in, especially if the match will draw big crowds. But "just like a loaf of bread or an empty hotel room, a ticket to a sporting event is a perishable good," Flaherty says. "If [a ticket] doesn't sell by its 'expiration date' — in this case game time — it's effectively worthless."

Looking at data from the past three NFL seasons, SeatGeek found that 24 to 48 hours prior to a game, tickets are about 30% lower on average than compared to two to three weeks before a game day. Even compared to prices a week prior, tickets purchased closer to kickoff will net fans an average savings of 18% to 20%, SeatGeek research shows. "For most events, there's a pretty sufficient supply [of tickets] up to two hours beforehand," Flaherty says. "If you want to sit in a specific section, you may not find a ticket. But you will find multiple good seats."

The Most Affordable Lower-Level Views: End Zone and Corner Seats

Many NFL fans love lower-level seats because they offer up-close intensity. The trouble is, many lower-level seats come with outrageous premiums, especially those at or near the 50-yard line. During the regular season, tickets for games in major markets can cost as much as $400 each on the secondary market. But NFL "corner" tickets (those outside the 20-yard lines) average 34% less than midfield tickets. The average NFL ticket behind the end zone is 42% less expensive than a lower-level seat on the 50-yard line.

Go to an Away Game

Fans in hyper popular football towns like Chicago, Green Bay, and New England, will often pay top dollar for homegame tickets. The average price for a ticket to a Bears game at Chicago's Soldier Field is $246 — the fifth most expensive in the NFL. For the Bears-Vikings match in Chicago on November 25 specifically, the average price is $217. But Bears fans who can hold off for another two weeks to see their team at the Vikings' home of Minneapolis will save about $99. Tickets for that game on December 9 average about $118, according to SeatGeek's analysis.

Search Multiple Ticket Sites at the Same Time

While it's important to act fast on promotions and sales — discount tickets don't have too long a shelf life — it's just as important to shop around to make sure you're getting a good enough deal. SeatGeek and other such sites aggregate all available ticket prices and offer up a handy comparison chart that cleanly presents a variety of ticket prices. SeatGeek's model is similar to Kayak and Hipmunk in the travel industry.

Why choose SeatGeek to compare ticket prices? They scan more than five dozen websites for the best deals. Plus SeatGeek is free and does not tack on any pesky fees (which is more than we can say for a certain ticket master).

Set Your Stopwatch and Note Fluctuations in Price and Supply

Veteran shoppers know that you can save a bundle by simply delaying immediate purchase gratification until the price is right. This sometimes happens in connection with a refreshed supply of premium product; if a flood of tickets are released to the secondary market, for example, the asking price will likely go down. For starters, it pays to know the average price of secondary-market tickets league-wide, which is currently $160 per ticket, Flaherty says.

Sometimes, the process is as simple as refreshing your browser a few times or checking back closer to game time for cheaper tickets. But signing up for price alerts on SeatGeek (or through StubHub, etc.) makes finding cheap seats even easier. These merchants keep you in the loop whenever a ticket special pops up unexpectedly online.

But no matter which site(s) you use to search for secondary-market tickets, it's smart to follow these bargain ticket tactics and compare prices before you buy. And just as winning coaches on the gridiron know, it takes a canny combination of patience, smarts, and jumping on the right opportunity in order to score.

Front page photo credit: TicketWood
Photo credits top to botom: Pro Football Talk,
College Humor, and Contra Costa Times via Flickr


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Lou Carlozo is a dealnews contributing writer. He covers personal finance for Reuters Wealth. Prior to that he was the managing editor of WalletPop.com, and is a veteran columnist at the Chicago Tribune.

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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