Market still being set for Bears-Packers

CHICAGO -- The hottest sports ticket since Spartacus was fighting lions at the Colisseum is here.

Packers. Bears. Monster of the Mortgage Payment.

So, the million-dollar question (not including taxes and fees) is: How expensive will it be to watch the longtime rivals fight for the chance to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?

As of Tuesday afternoon, before tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster, you could still buy a ticket to sit in the uppermost reaches of Soldier Field on Sunday for $425.

Is that a good deal? Depends on who you ask. Same as asking if it's a good market to sell tickets.

"It's kind of at a standstill," Max Waisvisz, owner of Gold Coast Tickets on Madison St. "We've come down from what we were selling them for to $425 for 400 levels. It was $500."

After an initial flurry of activity, Waisvisz said the markets are flooded with product. He said his business has about 600 tickets on hand, and are offering "good deals for consumers" right now.

"There's a lot of tickets out there," he said in a phone interview. "I'm looking at my screen, and I see 6,000 on the marketplace. Maybe it'll dry up. Yesterday was a hype day. Everyone was selling and buying, today it slowed down."

A lot of those tickets are on StubHub, where the average selling price is $722, according to Glenn Lehrman, head of communications. Before last weekend, fans were paying an average price of $400 for the chance to see this historic matchup.

The hype hasn't let down either, he wrote in an e-mail. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the average sale price over a 24-hour span was $825.

"This game is the highest selling non-Super Bowl NFL game in our history, and by the end of the week, will most likely be the fourth-highest selling NFL game ever behind the last three Super Bowls," he wrote.

Like Wais, Lindsey Vineyard, a sales associate at AAA Tickets in Lincoln Park, said they have tickets "all over the board, starting at $495." She noted it was quieting down after a madcap day filled with people testing the market. The most expensive ticket AAA had sold was $2,500 for a United Club seat.

Because of the novelty of the Bears and Packers facing off for the right to go to the Super Bowl for the first time the long storied history of the franchises (when they met in 1941, it was for the right to play in the NFL championship), there is an inordinate amount of prospecting going on, with ticketholders desperately trying to determine the worth of their tickets early in the week.

"You get a lot of that," she said. "One thing we always notice is when people call around, especially if you have more than one number, some of the same people will call you back and throw you a bigger number. People are feeling out the market to figure out the market."

Some of the hype seems to be media-created as well. According to StubHub, last year's NFC title match, Minnesota at New Orleans, produced an average ticket price of $596 at a much-bigger stadium. In Brett Favre's last game as a Packer, the 2008 NFC championship at Lambeau Field against the New York Giants, tickets went for $710, on average, through the website.

For this game, the range of prices for tickets sold on StubHub thus far is $200-$4,100, the latter for a United Club seat on the Packers' 50-yard line.

SeatGeek.com, a website that aggregates online secondary market prices, shows proof of a busy market.

On Sunday afternoon, SeatGeek's map of Soldier Field showed 12 tickets on the market for section 108, which is near the 50-yard line on the Bears' sideline, ranging from $1,679 to $2,968. Tuesday there were 17 tickets for that section, ranging from $1,332 to $4,955.

Also on Sunday, section 436, at the 40-yard line, SeatGeek showed 15 tickets ranging from $582 to $1,120.Tuesday there were 32 tickets ranging from $549 to $1,879.

Lehrman said that Illinois residents have out-bought Wisconsinites by a 3-to-1 margin, with Florida, California and New Jersey rounding out the top five buyer states.

If you can't afford tickets for the Bears game, Waisvisz has another deal for you.

"We're selling Bulls tickets for half-price and tickets to the Blackhawks game Sunday against the Flyers for $10," he said. "No other sporting event matters here this weekend."

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.