This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on November 5, 2015.
Each NFL team only plays 16 games per year, half on the road. That means there are only eight chances to root for your team on your home turf. Surely, you’d need more money than common sense to fly to see you favorite team on the road. That would be insanely expensive, even for a rabid football fan. Or would it?
“I’m from Philly and was born an Eagles fan,” said Mike Whitworth, Hipmunk’s senior manager of media sales and operations.”It’s a birthright.”
And so when his dad said that he had box seats to the Week 4 Eagles-Redskins game at FedEx stadium, he took a long weekend and hopped on a plane out of San Francisco and headed to DC.
That got us thinking: We decided to run the numbers to see how affordable it is to jump on a plane, book a hotel, and buy a game ticket to see your favorite football team on the road. In short, none of these options are particularly cheap— attending an away game ranges from $400-$900, depending on the team. But hey, if you’re a superfan it might just be worth the extra cost to you!
Let’s break it down:
For each team in the NFL, we calculated a few things that a prospective roadtripper might want to know.
First, we used our data to see how much it costs to stay at a hotel near a given NFL stadium for a night during football season. For example, the San Francisco 49ers stadium is in Santa Clara, which is about a 90-minute drive from San Francisco. As we didn’t look at bedroom communities of larger cities, it follows that we looked only at hotels specifically near Santa Clara—not San Francisco or the surrounding area.
Next, we looked at the average cost of flying into the major airports closest to NFL stadiums during football season. For this analysis, we assume you’re going on an epic trip involving a flight.
Finally, we analyzed the cost of getting a last-minute game ticket. Using data provided to Hipmunk from TiqIQ, we calculated the average cost of the buying the cheapest ticket over the remaining home games for each stadium. At some stadiums, a “nose-bleed” ticket can be had for as little as $30; at others, the absolute cheapest ticket runs around $200, and the “average” available seat might be $400!
All things considered, let’s take a look at the most expensive NFL teams to see on the road.
By far, the most expensive place to see a road game in the NFL is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, home of the Packers. Averaging $220, Packers tickets are the most expensive in the game, partly because the team is so good, and partly because the local fans are so die-hard. With flights averaging $519, it is also the most expensive NFL city to fly to, in addition to having the second most expensive hotels ($171 per night).
But say you’re already in town visiting family, have a place to stay, and your home team happens to be playing on the road. Let’s take a look at how these teams rank solely based on average ticket price over the season’s remaining games. (Note: we don’t include the cost of beer or parking, which can be quite a large additional expense.)
Only three NFL teams surpass an average ticket price of $200: the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, and Seattle Seahawks. And keep in mind that these are the lower-end tickets!
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Kansas City Chiefs tickets can be shockingly cheap, averaging $26 for entry level tickets. Tickets for Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans games can all be had for under $40 as well.
Deep Dive, the NFC
Until this point, we’ve focused on the NFL as a whole. Now, we’d like to get a bit more specific, and take a closer look at just teams in the NFC (National Football Conference).
Which NFC teams offer the most affordable options for catching a remaining game on the road?
This is all well and good, but what about specific games? If you’re, say, trying to see the San Francisco 49ers play the Browns in Cleveland on December 13, how much would that cost?
Below, we put together a table of remaining road games for every NFC team, along with the total estimated cost to attend each game. Games that are expensive (top 20 percentile) are in red, games that are relatively cheap (bottom 30 percent) are in green, and those that are “medium-affordable” (middle 50 percent) are in yellow:
So, if you’re a live-and-die football fan up for getting on a plane, finding an affordable hotel, and getting the cheapest ticket possible, it’s best to stick to the green squares (cheapest options). This might involve, however, going to see your favorite team on the road in Tampa, Buffalo, or Kansas City.
If your home team isn’t listed here, stay tuned for part two of our series, in which we’ll take a look at the AFC.
Methodology: Hipmunk and Priceonomics analyzed average nightly hotel prices at each stadium city location and average round trip airfare to nearest stadium airport during football season. Ticket prices were determined by analyzing the average prices of remaining away games starting in November, as provided by TiqIQ. Note that prices change daily depending on available inventory and in no way does Hipmunk guarantee the availability of listed pricing.