Why I Didn’t Blow my Life Savings on the Super Bowl

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Let’s journey back in time to October 2012. President Obama was in his first term, Vine didn’t exist yet, and the San Francisco Giants were in the World Series for the second time in three seasons.

It’s Game 2 at home in San Francisco and I have a decision to make. Do I try to get tickets and head to the City, or do I watch from the economical comfort of my couch? After weighing the pros and cons, I decided that I do want to watch a World Series, but I can’t watch a team I care about. What if we lose? I would never want to regret spending that kind of money. It would taint the whole experience for me.

Why I Didn’t Blow my Life-Savings on the Super Bowl

2012 sports Jill was naïve. And after watching the Giants take a 2-0 lead in the series, she was also regretful to have missed out. I kind of want to kick her a little bit.

Fast-forward to 2014. The Giants are playing pretty good ball in late-September, and I still haven’t been able to shake that nagging feeling from October 2012. I knew that I had to go to the World Series if the Giants were fortunate enough to make it; I wasn’t about to miss that opportunity again. Needless to say, tickets were purchased mere seconds after Travis Ishikawa’s three-run walk-off home run in the NLCS.

On October 26, 2014, I have possession of two standing room only tickets for Game 5 of the World Series. Madison Bumgarner is on the hill in a series tied 2-2. The tickets cost $350 a piece; not cheap, but doable for a dual-income family in the San Francisco Bay Area. The “standing room only” part was the best decision ever, as we stood happily in the lower deck not far from the first base line. I’ve been to a lot of Giants games and these are the best “seats” I’ve ever had. I essentially had 30th row tickets to a complete game shutout beasting hosted by one Madison Bumgarner. Our “seat-mates” weren’t the Apples or the Googles, they were just regular people like us: Giants fans wanting to see an unbelievable World Series game.

The energy, electricity, and atmosphere, not the win, made $350 feel like a bargain. On the Caltrain ride home, I realized that I would never want to pay that much money to watch another team do this. I wanted to watch my team in the World Series and the outcome, while joyous, was actually not as important. Sure, I’m ecstatic that the Giants won, but I would never have walked out of AT&T Park feeling regretful about the money I’d spent and the experience I’d had. Watching your team in the World Series is always worth it, win or lose.

Let’s rewind a little bit. In May 2013, NFL owners saw fit to vote Levi’s Stadium the home of Super Bowl 50. I knew that I needed to go. My rationale was 1) I want to go to a Super Bowl at some point, and 2) Levi’s Stadium is 20 minutes away. I could either spend a ton of money on tickets or I could spend a ton of money on tickets plus airfare and hotel at some point in the future. Of course, this was before my AT&T Revelation, so I was faced with a dilemma: what if my team makes it to the Super Bowl? Would I still go?

The Giants won the World Series in 2014 and I turned my attention to the next major sporting event I would attend: Super Bowl 50. (The Giants are atrocious in odd years and I am always traveling for Stanford bowl season.) Post-AT&T-Revelation-Jill understood this would only work out if my team made it. Well, around this time last year, my team, the Indianapolis Colts, were Vegas favorites to win the Super Bowl. We all know what happened then: it’s really hard to win anything when you have an offensive line the strength of party streamers from the Dollar Store. The Colts finished 8-8 and the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos would play for all the marbles.

Out of curiosity, I did start looking at Super Bowl tickets right after they went on sale. I knew it would be more expensive than my World Series excursion, but I was somehow blissfully ignorant as to just how expensive tickets would be. The cheapest seats I could find fluctuated between $2,890 and $4,200 over the course of several days, all with views similar to the one from my apartment in Menlo Park. No, not from my TV; if you’ve ever sat in the nosebleeds at Levi’s, you’ll know that I can actually see the field better from my apartment in Menlo Park. The AT&T Revelation held strong: I’d never spend that kind of money on teams I don’t care about.

But here’s the actual issue: even if I cared about these teams, I couldn’t afford to go to this game. And that’s really screwed up.

Hey Roger Goodell, fans should be able to see the biggest game of the year for less than 1-2 months rent (or 3-6 months rent if you live outside the blessed Bay Area). The NFL has priced its fans, the people who support it all year long, out of going to that game. I’ll say it again: that’s really screwed up.

I could talk ad nauseam about what you’d find once you get inside Levi’s Stadium. According to Twitter, a GLASS of wine was $25 and a bottle of beer was $13. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 8 years, so I’m used to the absurd prices here, but this is ludicrous. At the same time, if you can afford a ticket for $2800+, perhaps you’re not all that worried about a $13 Bud Light?

https://twitter.com/darrenrovell/status/697621410919936000

From my living room, I see celebrities enjoying the game: Justin Bieber, Guy Fieri, David Beckman, and a whole host of singers, actors, and models. I’m sure these people really enjoy football, but I’m not sure they love it more than the guy who had “Broncos Super Bowl 50 Champs” on his bicep before the season even started. And that is the problem: normal people, everyday fans, should be able to see their favorite team, a team they care about, play in the biggest game of the year for a reasonable price. They’ve waited all year, and maybe a lifetime, to see their team hoist the Lombardi Trophy atop their heads. They should be able to have a drink for less than it would cost for an oil change.

Bottom line: attending the Super Bowl isn’t feasible for normal people unless they want to blow a significant amount of their savings or go into massive debt. The Super Bowl shouldn’t be one more thing that is only feasible for the top one percent, but that’s what it’s turned into. I’ll say it one last time: this is really screwed up, and it’s why I didn’t spend my life-savings on the Super Bowl.

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