On top of tickets sold directly through the teams, there is a secondary market of tickets sold through other sources. There are more than 60 such secondary markets through which sports tickets are sold every year, including Stubhub, eBay and TicketNetwork.com. To identify the five teams with the highest ticket prices, 24/7 Wall St. examined a two-year average of secondary-market ticket prices for each team complied by SeatGeek, a search engine for event tickets.
It stands to reason that popular teams with strong fan bases can charge their fans more. But are secondary-market tickets even more reflective of demand? After examining the data and speaking with an expert on the subject, 24/7 Wall St. found that is indeed the case.
“What we’ve seen is that ticket prices on secondary market are a great proxy of fan interest and fan sentiment,” says SeatGeek’s director of communications, Will Flaherty. “When Jeremy Lin played for the Knicks, we saw over 200% ticket price increases on the secondary market.” Of course, regular season tickets could not have increased at this rate. The secondary-market tickets were more reflective of fan demand.
While teams do offer tickets through their own box offices, Flaherty says these can often be more expensive than going through a middleman, “If you want a very good seat … often times those tickets are not available at the box office, and if they are, they’re prohibitively expensive,” Flaherty says. “And so in many cases you can not only get access to those types of tickets [through secondary sources], but you can actually get them for lower prices.” Because some ticket holders are trying to resell premium seats, he explains, seats often cost less than what the team is selling them for. “For example, your average outfield bleacher ticket for a mid-week Yankees home game will cost around $20 from Yankees.com after taxes and fees, while secondary market sites have tickets in the identical section starting at $10.”
Several key factors influence high ticket prices in professional sports. These include the long-term popularity of the team, the historical size of its fan base, the availability of seating, the number of games played each year and the short-term success a franchise is experiencing.
Most of the teams on our list have one of the following two factors going for them. In many cases, the franchise has been extremely successful in recent years, regularly making it to the playoffs, winning championships, drawing star talent and driving up the fan base. Some teams also rely on their history and large market to bring in fans. And some teams fulfill both of these criteria.
SeatGeek compiled a list of average secondary-market ticket prices over a two-year period, which is the longest period available for the NFL. In order to measure the success and popularity of these teams, 24/7 Wall St. examined attendance and win-loss records for each team for the past decade. In the case of the NFL, we considered attendance data from 2008 to the present. We also looked at the financial well-being of these franchises based on data published by Forbes, which includes team revenue, operating income and estimated value.
This article is an excerpt from The 20 Most Expensive Tickets in Sports, which originally appeared on 24/7 Wall St. on June 5, 2012.