Super Bowl XLV is one hot ticket

Bidding also spirited for league championships

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Buying a stairway to seven will not come cheaply.

With the Steelers and three other teams in the running, Super Bowl XLV will be the most expensive ticket in NFL history. Should Steelers fans get a chance to see the team go for a seventh Lombardi trophy, they will see ticket prices with face values higher than ever, not to mention that charged by resale services and scalpers.

Not that Steelers fans are jinxing themselves. Jets fans are confidently buying up tickets for Sunday's matchup, and they and Packers fans are booking the most flights for Dallas.

Any combination of the four teams left in the Super Bowl hunt will seriously inflate Super Bowl ticket prices, given the historic roots of two of the league's oldest teams in the Bears and Packers, the way Rex Ryan has conjured Joe Namath's braggadocio with the Jets, and the unparalleled success and popularity of the Steelers.

The highest-priced ticket at reseller StubHub has already gone for $11,000, or almost 10 times the face value to the most expensive seats at the Feb. 6 game.

The league also expects a record 5,000-plus requests for media credentials to the game. Wide interest in the four franchises, Dallas hosting its first Super Bowl, and the growing online and worldwide coverage of the sport are all factors, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Tremors are already coming from the sales to Sunday's championship games.

At StubHub, tickets to the Jets-Steelers game are selling for an average of $410, with an equal number of seats being sold to fans in Pennsylvania as those in New Jersey and New York, suggesting a large number of Jets fans in attendance. It already marks the second-highest sales to any NFL conference championship in the online company's 10-year history -- beat out only by the Bears-Packers game, which begins 31/2 hours earlier.

The long rivalry between the NFC North teams and their proximity -- Chicago is two hours south of the Packers fan base in Milwaukee -- has led to an average StubHub ticket price there Thursday of $704. At the league's official resale site, NFL Ticket Exchange, seats were going for between $343 and $7,500.

The Steelers are part of the same online resale system and have seen "a ton of demand" for seats at Heinz Field, said team spokesman Dave Lockett. A surprising amount of Jets fans are trying to get into the game, said former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms, who will be part of the CBS broadcast crew Sunday.

"I didn't realize there were so many Jets fans -- well, they're New York fans -- but how many people, just in my neighborhood, that are going to drive to Pittsburgh to watch the game," Mr. Simms said, "because they want to go down there and try to buy tickets and be part of it."

On the local scalper market, sales have been greater only for the first AFC Championship game in Heinz Field against the Patriots in January 2002, said one experienced broker who asked not to be identified. He expected forecasts for chilly weather Sunday to shake loose a lot of tickets in the hours before the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Steelers front office is used to organizing for the playoffs and the Super Bowl -- the team has won it two out the last six years -- and as usual sold playoff seats to season ticket holders before the regular season ended.

It has done the same with Super Bowl ticket rights. On Tuesday the team conducted a computerized lottery for Super Bowl seats and notified winners Thursday.

To get into the lottery, season ticket holders had to put down $800 per ticket plus a $30 handling fee. Should the team beat the Jets, the tickets will be issued in the middle of next week. (Mr. Lockett would not say how many of the tickets the team receives are reserved for its seat-license holders. Every team is required to use a lottery system of some kind for ticket distribution, said Mr. McCarthy, the league's spokesman.)

Face value seat prices for Super Bowl XLV outside Dallas start at $600 and top out at $1,200 for club seats. (Some $350 standing room only seats and $200 tickets to watch the game outside Cowboys Stadium also will be available).

On the official NFL Ticket Exchange site, they are already going for $3,126 for an upper-deck ticket to $16,480 for a field-level club box seat.

They are going for an average of $3,226 on StubHub -- close to the average for the Giants-Patriots game in 2008 -- but the prices may go down once more tickets hit the market next week.

"We will likely see a beneficial shift in the market for fans and constant fluctuation," said spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer. "All four teams still in the mix boast widespread, strong fan bases that will absolutely travel to Dallas for the big game."

At the online travel site Expedia, bookings to Dallas/Fort Worth International airport are twice as high as usual from New York and Milwaukee, said spokesman Dave McNamee, showing a lot of interest from Jets and Packers fans. Pittsburgh bookings are up slightly and those from Chicago are down slightly.

Hotel reservations in North Texas are currently in a holding pattern while fans wait to see the final matchup, said Jay Burress, the president and CEO of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Dallas/Fort Worth area has about 100,000 hotel rooms -- double that of the greater Tampa area, host to the Super Bowl in 2009 -- and while many rooms are gobbled up by the league, up to 20,000 are still available in the greater vicinity of the stadium.

Each team playing in the Super Bowl will be allocated 17.5 percent of the roughly 100,000 seats in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. The Cowboys will get 5 percent and the remaining 29 teams will get 1.2 percent of the seats. The league distributes the other 25.2 percent.

All the matchups this weekend, said Mr. Lockett, the Steelers spokesman, have "great interest, great teams and great fan bases. Ours are right there at the top."

Tim McNulty: or 412-263-1581. Staff writer Dan Majors contributed to this report.


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