NFL Season Ticket Experiment

In 2003 I thought it would be a good idea to put my name on the waiting lists for season tickets for several NFL teams.  Not every team has a wait, and not every team that does have a wait allows you to get on the list for free (some have PSL’s while others charge $100/seat to be on the list).  However, a handful of really good teams with really long waits do allow you to get on their season ticket waiting list free of charge. My theory was that whenever I did get the tickets I would be able to buy them and resell for a nice profit them because those teams are always in high demand.  Of course, I also could just decline the option to buy without any penalty.  Or I could actually go to the games, depending on the location of the team.  Win-win-win I thought.

I hadn’t thought much about this since then.  Until of course last week when I was at my parents house and I saw that there was a letter there for me from the Denver Broncos.  Apparently I am now eligible to buy season tickets.  4 of them in fact.  But I had to decide by June 16th, a little over a week after I got the letter.  Which makes sense because I’m sure a lot of people decline to buy or have forgotten about it or moved, so they need time to send more letters to other people on the list prior to tickets being sent out in July.

The letter also said something really interesting – that the wait had now grown to 15 – 20 years and that if I didn’t buy tickets by June 16th I’d be placed at the back of the line again.

After debating it for a little while, I ran it by my partners who emphatically pushed me to buy the tickets.  I ended up deciding to buy a pair and Mike decided he’d snatch up the other pair.  So here’s the deal – all season long I’m going to track exactly what we do with these tickets.  I’ll post when we sell each pair, how much we sell them for, and how much work is involved.

We had choices between two different sections, one for $580/seat and the other for $420/seat.  We decided to experiment and get a pair from each.  We ended up with 2 seats in section 524 and 2 in section 502 (map here).  The grand total – including an $8 service charge per ticket – came to $2,032.  The very nice lady on the phone informed me that I’ll be receiving the tickets in the mail in July.  At that time we’ll decide exactly how we’ll be selling the tickets.

However, if you do the math it looks like we’re already in pretty good shape if we threw them on StubHub.  We’re paying $52.50/ticket and $72.50/ticket if you don’t factor in the two pre-season games that we might not be able to unload.  Some games are already over $100 for the low…in June.  Season ticket packages start at $675, which means we could sell off the entire season right now and still make out pretty good.

It also helps that the Broncos have the schedule from God.  They have quite possibly the four best road teams coming in – Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh, and the Giants.  Then they have their three division rivals coming in – San Diego, Oakland, and Kansas City.  The only not-so-popular team is Cleveland, and that is their home opener, which always has high demand.  The two pre-season games that we get are essentially meaningless (Chicago and Arizona) – we’ll be lucky to get $20/ticket for those games.

The only thing working against us is that the Broncos might totally suck, considering that Josh McDaniels is insane and all.  Hopefully they’ll at least be respectable…or at least respectable until we unload all of our tickets.

All in all, if this can’t work with this team in this season, it probably won’t be worth my time to try it again with another team in another season.  Our goal is to get a 50% return on our investment by the time the season ends in December.  That’s approximately six months to turn $2k into $3k. Should be fun.

Update: you can read about the results of our experiment in my other NFL Season Ticket Experiment posts

16 comments on NFL Season Ticket Experiment

  1. Brad says:

    Sounds like a decent plan; hopefully it works out for you. Either way it should add some extra excitement to the football season this year for you.

    I tried a similar ticket purchasing experiment a few years ago. My friends and I were heading to the first ever ACC championship game, and by purchasing tickets early we got a pretty sweet deal so we bought a handful extra with hopes to resell them. As it turns out, the stadium was three times the size it needed to be and wasn’t anywhere close to capacity so we ended up selling the tickets off for a huge loss.

    So with our new found knowledge, the next year we drove down without tickets to relieve some other poor suckers of their extra ticket situation.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Exactly Brad. It’ll make the football season a little more fun. As long as we don’t lose money, it’ll be worth it.

    Love the ACC story 🙂

  3. jen says:

    Can’t wait to see how this works out!

  4. This will be interesting to follow. Good Luck!

  5. Dale says:

    Stuff that only entrepreneurs will do 🙂 Love it.

  6. Dale says:

    Hey, you’re missing an “email to someone” feature… I wanted to email your blog entry to a friend of mine who likes this kind of stuff but couldn’t find a way to that easily.

  7. Adam Gilbert says:

    Ha! Of course you did this. Last August, I purchased tickets to the US OPEN at Bethpage Black. Yeah, the one that got totally messed up by all of the rain this past weekend. I purchased extra tickets hoping to do the same thing. I broke even only because of the rain…but I think this sounds like a win. It’s just a lot of work…especially depending on how you sell the tickets. My suggestion is shoot high for individually purchased tickets and reward bundled ones.

  8. Adam McFarland says:

    Nice Adam. Good to hear that even though the rain hit you still broke even. You’re right about the work…even if we do it successfully I might not do it again next year if it’s too much of a hassle.

  9. Gordon says:

    That is great, you’ll definitely make out with those.

    I have bills tickets, and even in Buffalo with a mediocre team you can easily make a few hundred bucks per ticket per year.

  10. […] I just received the two pairs of Broncos season tickets in the […]

  11. Aaron says:

    I’m a life long Broncos fan. I’ve been on the wait list for over seven years. When you pull stunts like this in the name of making a quick buck, you’re not adding value through arbitrage, you’re screwing the fans in line behind you. Not very entrepreneurial, sir.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hi Aaron. Um I’m sorry if I offended you. It was less about making a quick buck (clearly I didn’t – the results are here if you didn’t see them http://www.adammcfarland.com/2009/12/30/well-we-broke-even-nfl-season-ticket-experiment/ ) and more about experimenting, which I do think is entrepreneurial at it’s core. I did not renew my tickets this season, so you’re one step closer to the front of the line. The reality of it is that ticket brokers exist because there is a market for them (supply v demand). I think my experiment showed that it’s not simple arbitrage – that there’s quite a bit of work involved and if you do actually want to profit you have to put in quite a bit of effort (start your own site, get on Craigslist and Facebook and Twitter to interact with fans, etc, to find the people who only want to go to a game or two a year). I personally learned quite a bit from the experiment, and based upon the many comments and emails I received, other people did so as well.

  12. […] my search I found this post by entrepreneur Adam McFarland, who opted for Broncos season tickets last year with the intention […]

  13. Richard Pollitt says:

    I live in England and am interested in doing this. We want to watch the seahawks in seattle next sept (2016) and thought it would maybe pay for itself if we could sell the rest. I noticed you have already tried this so my question is would it be more profitable to try it now and would doing it from Manchester England be an issue. ?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for reading Richard. I’m not sure to be honest. I’d investigate StubHub, the official NFL Ticket Exchange, and other secondary markets to see what their terms are now. For us we spent a ton of time sending out the tickets, but now you should be able to do it digitally with less effort. So long as the fees aren’t too bad, the Seahawks are probably one of the more desirable teams to do this with. You could attempt to look back and see what tickets last year went for to get an idea of what you might be able to get. Also – not sure if the Seahawks have PSL’s or not but if they do that would be an additional expense that likely wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

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