Ticket prices are holding steady

HOUSTON -- Those expecting the Super Bowl ticket market to drop haven't seen it happen as of early Wednesday afternoon.

The Wednesday before the game is usually when brokers either get soft or aggressive, depending on how many tickets they feel are still left to be sold. But, around town, the same $1,700-to-get-in price that was being quoted at the beginning of the week is still the cost of getting a live look at the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

"There hasn't been a spike, but it's definitely held steady within $100," said Jack Stopnicki, owner of Ticket Stop, one of the largest ticket brokers in Houston.

Ticket Stop is selling upper-level end-zone seats for $1,650, upper-level seats between the 25- and 50-yard lines for $2,350 and club-level seats around midfield for $5,000.

"It will probably drop a little bit at some point, as it always does," said Thomas Swalla, director of marketing and business development for Razorgator.com, which claims it will sell about 4,200 Super Bowl tickets this year, or roughly six percent of the seats to the game.

If prices don't drop over the next four days, it will mark the most expensive Super Bowl on the secondary market since 2001, when the New York Giants played the Baltimore Ravens in an all-East Coast Super Bowl in an East Coast city -- Tampa, Fla.

That year, the market for the ticket with a $325 face value opened at $1,750, but by game time, the price for the worst seat in the house was $2,600.

For the neutral football fan, the Patriots-Panthers matchup isn't the most appealing. Instead, they would have preferred to see Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles.

"The reason there may not have been as big of a drop in prices as one might expect is that price expectations were lower to begin with," said Eric Baker, president of StubHub.com, an online secondary ticket service. "Had there been an Eagles-Patriots matchup, or even an Eagles-Colts matchup, increased demand in interest would have driven prices higher to begin with."

But brokers told ESPN.com that the healthy ticket market is due to a number of factors. The two-week period between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl makes it easier for those who need more time to plan travel, while last-minute deciders are having no problem finding lodging in the vicinity.

The last time the Patriots were in the Super Bowl, security fears following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and the lack of hotel rooms -- Mardi Gras and the Super Bowl were both in New Orleans at the same time -- allowed some, including ESPN.com, to obtain a Super Bowl ticket hours before the game for $100.

Other factors include more corporate spending and the local dollar.

"There's money here in Texas," said David Christopherson, president of Dallas-based Metro Tickets, who has been selling Super Bowl seats for the past 20 years. "The game hasn't been here in 30 years, and many of my main clients are going to be driving to the game."

Last year in San Diego, Super Bowl tickets were selling at the last minute for $1,500, the price kept high mostly by locals coming to cheer for the Oakland Raiders.

Some of Christopherson's customers have asked him to call them if the price dips below $1,300, but with half of his inventory left with four days to go, Christopherson has his doubts.

"I doubt I'm going to be calling them," he said.

The face value on most of the tickets this year is $500, and tickets, for the first time ever, are glow-in-the-dark.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn3.com.