I may have slightly over-estimated the potential with our NFL Season Ticket Experiment. We made $47, or $23.50 each. Our initial investment was $2,032. We now have $2,079, or 2.3% more than we started with.
So for all intents and purposes we broke even, but definitely learned a few good lessons. But before I get into what I’d do differently, here’s the data:
And broken down by section:
OK, so why did we barely profit and what would I do differently?
- The 15% commission is the commission from StubHub. We didn’t even attempt to try to sell them elsewhere. If I did this again I might try Craigslist, Twitter, Facebook, or even starting my own site to try to avoid the commission and/or make more per ticket.
- StubHub is easy to use, but also very competitive, which led to us being conservative in our pricing. We didn’t want any unsold tickets. Perhaps we could have made more if we were a little more risky.
- We originally listed the season tickets as a package. There was no activity but we didn’t pull them and split them into individual games until almost the start of the regular season. I think this was part of the reason that we were conservative in our pricing.
- We were slackers and didn’t even attempt to sell the pre-season tickets. We probably could have gotten $10 or $20 a pop. Instead I just aggregated the price of those into each regular season pair of tickets.
- We sold two pairs of tickets to a friend at face value (502 for both the Giants & Raiders game). Since we didn’t sell the pre-season games these were actually at a loss. Also – that Giants game on Thanksgiving (as much as it sucked) was a very popular ticket so we probably cost ourselves some profit there.
- We waited until we received the tickets to put them up on StubHub. We should have done it as soon as they charged my credit card. If we were to do it next year, we could list them as soon as StubHub allows for it. This time we missed out on all of the July and August buyers.
- The cheaper tickets were more profitable. Some of that is because of the ones we sold to our friend, but mostly I think it’s because the seats weren’t all that much worse and the face value was $40 less per pair. Both seats were in the upper-deck and on the ends. Had one been lower-deck in the middle, it would have been a different story. Just a hypothesis here, but I think the most profitable tickets are at the extremes: cheap seats like we had in 524 and super expensive seats in the lower level.
- While NFL attendance is still pretty good, I think people are a little more cautious in their discretionary spending. The demand isn’t quite as high as we had hoped, which made StubHub all the more competitive. Even if a stadium sells out, there’s a big difference in ticket prices if the demand is 50% over capacity vs 1% over capacity.
- I deeply regret signing up for all of the other season ticket waiting lists. They bombard my email, snail mail, and phone with all sorts of ticket offers (except season tickets of course…which I don’t want now anyway).
With all of that said, I don’t think we’ll do it again. I enjoyed it. I’m glad I did it. But it was a decent amount of work. I don’t plan on being in Denver any time soon, nor am I a big Broncos fan.
I should probably just stick to making money with my day job.
Update 8/15/2017 – Andrew Naylor has written an excellent book Investing In NFL Season Tickets in which he runs his own 3-year experiment with the 49ers and dives deep into the math, which gets more complex when you start factoring in PSLs. He was nice enough to reference this post in his book and send me an advanced copy once it was complete.