When my father got invited to join the New York Giants in the late 1940s, he turned down the roster spot because a pro football player couldn't make enough money to support a wife and kids, unless he took a second or even third job on the side. But my how times have changed.
Professional American football is big, big business today, a fact that will be especially evident on Super Bowl Sunday in two weeks. Regardless of who takes the field — or even who wins the game — there's a lot at stake, as the contest will generate all sorts of eye-popping revenue, ad sales, chicken wing guzzling, and commerce of all kinds. Even the Super Bowl rings will cost an estimated $6,000, and are worth far more on the open market as collectors' items. (The average NFL salary in 1958, by the way, was $10,000.)
So whether you're an armchair quarterback watching with your bachelor buddies in a dorm room, or a well-heeled celebutante taking a limo to a Superdome skybox, expect that you'll have to pay to play. Here's how Super Bowl XLVII breaks down by the numbers. Or as they say on Game Day: "Hut! Hut! Hike!" (Or is it "Hype!"?)
Super Bowl Ticket: Starting at $2,067
As of press time, there are still a good number of tickets available for the Big Game on StubHub: More than 3,300 in fact. But it's going to cost you quite a bit of coin to land your tushie in a seat at the Superdome in New Orleans. The cheapest seats are in the terraces on the far end of the field and go for a modest $2,067.
But let's assume you want to party it up in the 400 level suites. That could set you back anywhere from $112,944 to an astounding $315,916. This high end figure is more than double what the assistant coach on a Super Bowl team makes in a year, and it's also enough to buy this 5-bedroom, 4-bath home in Tampa, Florida with $30,000 to spare. But hey, if you've gotta watch a game from the luxury boxes, what's a few hundred thousand dollars between friends? By the way, tickets for the first Super Bowl maxed out at $12.
Super Bowl Stays in New Orleans: From $100 to $15,000
A quick check of HotelGuides.com shows that every hotel room within 4 miles of the Superdome is sold out, except for the Sun Suites of New Orleans, where limited rooms are available and start at $289 a night. Super Bowl weekend room rentals via Craigslist fluctuate wildly, between $100 a night (in the Garden District) and $15,000 (for a 3-bedroom home in Uptown). You could say it's all a bit too pricey, but viewed another way, it's a great comeback story for a city that was so thoroughly ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Super Bowl Snacks: $3 Per Viewer
So you can't get to the Big Easy? We understand. But if you're hosting a party, prepare to shell out for the avocado dip. Last January, Americans were estimated to down 1.25 billion chicken wings and more than 15,000 tons of chips — for a grand total cost of $55 million on food and $237 million on soft drinks. It's estimated that 100 million people will watch the Super Bowl, so crunch the numbers (along with all those chips) and you get a $3 tab per TV viewer.
But of course, that's a per viewer estimate — with lots of people watching at home alone — and not a per partygoer estimate. You'll likely spend a lot more on pizza, shrimp, pigs in blankets, beer, chips, wings, and all manner of grub to keep you partygoers happy, increasing your food costs exponentially. All told, it's the biggest non-holiday eating day of the year, and second only to another all-American feast: Thanksgiving.
General Super Bowl Spending: $68.76 Per Person
To be sure, $68+ sounds more like a meal ticket for you and your sweetie at a nice restaurant. But this is the Super Bowl we're talking about, and football fans know how to party. It's not just the food that drives up the per-person amount; that figure includes what fans spend on apparel, merchandise, and even electronics, according to the National Retail Federation. (The costs run up in a hurry when you're buying a new big-screen TV just for the game.) Last year's tally of $63.87 per person was up from $59.33 the year before; assuming a similar year-to-year jump, Americans will spend $68.76 for the 2013 contest.
Super Bowl Pizza: At least $20
Even if you're not throwing a huge party and just planning to order some pies for the guys, you'd better be prepared to get in line and tip handsomely. Super Bowl Sunday has attained legendary status as the number one pizza sales day of the year; mainstays such as Domino's and Pizza Hut could see sales spike by as much as 50% over a typical Sunday, based on figures from the last Super Bowl. Drivers who normally earn a $2 tip for dropping off the pie often see that figure skyrocket to $20. But that windfall could be offset by a fender bender, as more pizza jockeys get into car accidents on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day. Last year, Pizza Hut prepped for the game by stocking up on more than 1,000 tons of dough and 90,000 gallons of marinara sauce. Among the toppings, pepperoni was tops; roughly 80% of orders placed were for pepperoni.
Super Bowl Beer: $9 Per Person
Beer ads are as much a part of the Super Bowl as touchdowns and fumbles. And CNBC reports that last year, about 53 million cases of beer were sold during the 2-week period surrounding the game. That's about half a case for every viewer, and assuming a case of beer averages about $18, we're talking $9 per person. Of course, some die-hard Super Bowl fans are going to drink a lot more, while it's assumed that the kids in the family room will stick with soda and fruit juice.
Super Bowl Betting: At least $90 Million
That's how much was bet legally in Las Vegas on last year's Super Bowl. Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest betting day of the year, and for every legal dollar plunked down, countless more will be spent on office pools and the like. One thing's for sure, though: Betting on the final score is like trying to land a spot on an NFL roster, only harder. San Diego State University information systems professor Dr. Jim Lackritz, a statistician and sports nut, calculates the probability of picking the Super Bowl's final score at no better than 400-to-1.
Securing a Super Bowl Ad: Starting at $4 Million
CNN Money. Just in case you think advertisers are balking at a figure that high, guess again: CBS sold half of its spots for Super Bowl XLVII back in May. All in all, it's quite the markup from the very first Super Bowl in 1967, when ads went for $42,000 (about $274,000 in today's money).
The numbers of course don't stop there. We could talk about the 48 million Americans who ordered takeout or delivery last Super Bowl Sunday, the 12 million who watched the game at a bar or tavern, and the 1.3 million bottles of beer emptied on game day alone. But in the end, may we suggest that two numbers matter the most: your credit card balance (may it avoid getting maxed out) and the final score of the game (may the best team win).