When is a Priceless Experience Too Pricey?

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One of the cornerstones of my being is that experiences are generally worth more than things. I not only say that, but I live it both through this running this blog, the trips we take, the presents I give family members, the time we dedicate to seeing family, and more. I mean, I don’t take it to an extreme and live out of a travel backpack with a baby strapped on bouncing from city to city for months or years on end, though I know some swear by that lifestyle. We still have a house, decent furniture, comfortable vehicles, etc, but when push comes to shove I value memories from trips and with friends and family way more than I do anything I can order from Amazon or Pottery Barn.

I also know that the type of experiences that people value obviously can and do vary from person to person. Some people feel at peace surrounded by mountains and sleeping in a tent without a soul in sight while some thrive on music festivals that are jam packed with like-minded dancing people. Some focus on airline miles solely to eat caviar and drink champagne while flying in an international first class cabin while others just want to get their family of five to Grandma’s house in Omaha once a year. We are thankfully all different, so even if we agree that experiences are worth more than anything else, we can and will differ on which experiences are worth the effort.

Enter the Super Bowl. To many sports fans, at least in this country, this event is the pinnacle of the pinnacle. It gets the most attention, the most ad revenue, the most television coverage, and commands the highest ticket cost of any other sporting event. Fun fact: Of the 20 most watched television broadcasts in the United States, the annual Super Bowls hold 19 of the top 20 slots…with the MASH finale in 1983 holding the #8 slot.

This year the Super Bowl is going to be held within an hour of our house in Houston, and my husband’s lifelong favorite team, the Kansas City Chiefs, are certainly in the playoff hunt with five weeks left in the regular football season. This has the potential to be the ‘perfect storm’ or ‘perfect opportunity’ to attend the Super Bowl, depending on your perspective.

Attending a Chiefs game years ago

Attending a Chiefs game years ago

While many factors both on the field and off have waned my own personal affinity towards professional football in recent years, my husband still lives and breathes for the NFL and the Kansas City Chiefs. Without thinking through the specifics or really believing it would actually happen, it was easy to agree that he should absolutely go to the Super Bowl in Houston this year if the Chiefs make it for the first time in his lifetime. I mean, he went to the World Series with his family a couple years ago under similar circumstances so this isn’t our first go’round at these types of decisions. However, now that the odds the Chiefs will make the playoffs have jumped to 88% and their odds of appearing in the Super Bowl are at 17%, the Super Bowl discussions have gone to a new level of seriousness.

My husband's family at the World Series in 2014

My husband’s family at the World Series in 2014

Serious enough that I actually priced tickets. And OMG. I thought World Series tickets were expensive, but they are like a visit to the Dollar Store compared to Super Bowl tickets. The average Super Bowl tickets in recent years are usually in the $2,500 – $3,000 range per ticket. THAT’S THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS PER TICKET! As of right this second on StubHub, the cheapest ticket for the upcoming Super Bowl is $3,850 for an upper end zone seat before whatever fees are added when you hit purchase. If you want three seats together, as he likely would for himself, his dad, and his brother, you are currently talking about $5,495 per ticket.

Josh and his dad enjoying a Chiefs game

Josh and his dad enjoying a Chiefs game

Even if you assume that at some point you can get three tickets for $3,000 each all-in, that is $9,000 total for three people outside of any travel, parking, or other expenses to attend one four hour long football game.

Let’s just say I raised an eyebrow at this notion once some rough math was calculated. Perhaps I dropped a jaw, blew a gasket, or something similar. Either way I wasn’t fully on-board even though you could argue this is indeed a “once in a lifetime experience”. You know, the kind of experiences that I often say are absolutely worth it. But, worth it at what cost?

Priceless doesn’t always mean at any price when it is your cash on the line. Priceless when it comes at the expense of many other things that could be done with those thousands of dollars has to be calculated a bit more carefully. I think travel experiences can be priceless, but my way of funding them largely comes from miles and points instead of cold hard cash, though cash is also involved. I’ve certainly never spent thousands of dollars for one four hour event.

Given all of that I sit here in a quandary of believing that experiences, especially those with family, trump most other things, believing that some experiences really are once-in-a-lifetime and in a sense “priceless”, but also knowing that budgets are finite and spending thousands and thousands of dollars for one event will come at the expense of (many) other things. This same dilemma of “when priceless is too pricey” has played itself out over the last several years years as my own #1 bucket list splurge of getting my family to a house in the snowy Colorado mountains on Christmas morning has been too pricey to complete, so this is by no means an exercise limited to my husband and the Super Bowl.

Regardless of whether the Chiefs make the Super Bowl or not, and knowing full well that this is a very “first world” thing to spend mental and written space on, I do wonder that at what point is a priceless experience too pricey, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

I also know that regardless of my own limits on priceless experiences, God himself would probably be the only one who could stop my husband from attending a Super Bowl featuring the Chiefs held just 40 miles from our house…and even God may have a hard time. 

Comments

  1. Chiefs aren’t making the SB

    And tickets can be had for way less than $3k. I usually get in for under $1k by buying tickets day of

    • If you got in last year for under $1k, that’s friggin amazing. We spent $2,800 a ticket and haven’t found anybody who spent less than that (without significant risks). Cheapest I heard was $2500 from a scalper on the street…which is a risk I’m unwilling to take.

      Now, for New York, that actually got pretty cheap. You could have sat lower level for $1800 if you waited until > 24 hr before gametime. Then again, those who tried buying “day of” for SB 49 got INCREDIBLY screwed and had to shell out $8k+ per.

    • This guy is correct on both fronts. In toursi check chiefs make it, buy that afternoon on StubHub. Only time this backfired was super bowl 2 years ago when tickets were through the roof for pats/Seahawks. That won’t happen with chiefs.

  2. Well, I live in Minneapolis and Super Bowl 2018 will be played here in the brand new US Bank Stadium. We are huge Patriots fans and as you know they are always Super Bowl contenders and have won couple times. As soon as the announcement was made last year my 10 year old son looked and me and said: “Daddy, can we go?” Well, I know it is way too far in time but I already heard it will be the most expensive Super Bowl in the history. People are already renting their houses here two years in advance. I explained to him that when it is time we will see BUT that for me, him and his younger brother to attend a game like that will cost us enough to make a memorable family trip to almost anywhere in the world. Also, IF the Patriots make to that game the chance of us leave it very frustrated is 50%. Thus, I think we need to decide what is best for us to decide on how to spend our money. Also, apart of loving sports I am getting tired and frustrated and explained to my kids many times that unfortunately sports are becoming more and more a business and that can be very frustrating. Based on the terrible way the NFL is managed today and the terrible officiating decisions you see on games I don’t think that spending $15k++ to watch a game at -30F will make sense.

  3. The best solution — the whole family goes and stays at a hotel nearby — your husband buys a “day of” ticket for $600-800 and enjoys the heck out of the experience while you earn points at a staycation and can revel in his experience right afterwards (hence — I’d reserve cancellable hotel rates now)

    • I like the way you think – hotels all across Houston have actually been sold out in large part for a looooooooong time.

      • Don’t worry about Hotels…I learned that while they all get booked up early…nearly all hotels will start having availability again a few days before the actual game.

  4. Oh, gosh this is sad that a normal middle class family cannot afford to attend a NFL football game, unless you know or work for the right people. I just bought a $30k car and it is sad that it would cost this to send my family of 5 to a Super bowl. My husband and boys are Raiders fans and I don’t want to get into a discussion about who or who is not going to Super Bowl because I couldn’t give one flip about football, but I know he would LOVE to go with our son’s for this priceless experience. He may just have to settle for tailgating especially since Houston is so close to home.

    • It is sad that this sort of experience can’t reasonably be had for even a middle class family without it taking a serious, serious financial impact. You are right for a family of 4 or 5 to go and sit together it can absolutely be the same price as a car.

    • I’m sorry but I truly don’t understand why it’s “sad” that the average middle class family can’t afford to attend the premier annual sporting event in the world. Literally millions of people want to attend – probably a million in the Houston area alone. How would you allocate the limited number of tickets if not by pricing them appropriately?

      • Not speaking for Michelle, but just my own view of why it is sad is that viewing sporting events together is a common family activity. It can be very exciting when “your” team makes the big game, and something that many families would splurge to experience. However, because of corporate deals and such average folks are almost priced out entirely in favor of deep corporate pockets where the tickets often end up in the hands of people because of business ties instead of with those who truly care about the game being played. I think that is kind of sad.

      • Please!!!! Sports are not cheap. Not even a regular ole NFL game. A middle class family could go, but then they’d have to mortgage the farm so it’s just stupid. There are choices to be made every day and attending the Super Bowl isn’t generally in the cards for middle class people. I won’t be crying. I’ll be watching it on my big screen like 99.9 % of people. However, I do think Dan at Dan’s deals rules for what he achieved even though I could care less about baseball. What’s sad is for how cheap I’ve seen worldclass musicians. Yep, the very best!!!!

        • Totally agree re Dan’s Deals. Love that story! For those not familiar he used about 1 million SPG points via an auction to throw out a pitch in Game 7 of the World Series when his lifelong love of a team was playing!

  5. My husband has the same affliction for the Steelers. He has gotten tickets through work and corporate sponsors once. But the others (I think he’s been to at least 3) he starts outside the stadium at 8am and will try all day. He usually spends $800-$1000 for his ticket, which is about face value. His best luck has been in the bus parking lots. Because lots of people get off that have tickets and maybe somebody didn’t show, or got sick, or whatever. I have no interest is going, or spending the money. He usually has a great time with other die hard fans in the stands. One year he even sat behind Franco Harris, by doing it that way. (I wouldn’t know who that was, but he was excited). He always has a great time and brings back a lot of the goodies from the seats for our kids. Only die hard fans would do it, but you better be one if you are paying that kind of money.

  6. Summer – what do you mean when you say ” many factors both on the field and off have waned my own personal affinity towards professional football in recent years”?

    • Well not putting words in her mouth but having a clown like Goodell managing the NFL and seeing stupid decisions by the officials on the field being critical for the score of the game is enough for me to not want to spend my hard earned money to watch a NFL game. I don’t trust it anymore.

    • The short answer is I simply don’t enjoy watching football as much as I used to. The longer answer as to why is a combination of factors including that I simply don’t have the luxury of hours on the weekend to lay around getting into it with little kids in the house, knowing more about CTE and mind altering impacts of the hits players take makes watching much less fun for me, going to games in person has become less enjoyable as I’ve gotten older and crowds have gotten drunker and rowdier (or at least it bothers me more), and the league itself has made some decisions both in terms of calls, suspensions, and turning a blind eye to players actions that just rub me the wrong way. I have such limited time for “hobbies” that football watching just no longer makes the cut. However, I know that it still sits at the top of Josh’s favorite activities and I understand that many people love it just as they did years ago, even if I don’t.

  7. Check out HomeAway.com and find that big house in CO to rent for Christmas. Many homes are actually not that expensive (you can find them for less than $50/person/night) and you could potentially all drive/caravan there if flights are prohibitively expensive for the whole crew.

    • I’ve spent more hours than I care to report on this and every house I have found that would meet the extended family’s needs for the week of Christmas (which with many school aged kids is the only one we have to play with), have been astronomically out of our orbit. Some looked reasonable-ish, but when I have contacted them directly the rates are often higher than they first appeared. I hope it all works out one year, but I have yet to come up with the right house at the right time so far, though if I had thousands upon thousands upon thousands to play with it wouldn’t be a problem. 😉

  8. We will all leave this planet with items still on our bucket list. So you have to prioritize, pick the ones that are the most important, meaningful and doable too, and just say F**k It and spend the money. That’s assuming you have it to spend and timing is everything too of course.

  9. Do you know how nice of a 4k TV you can buy for that enjoy for countless hours?? But I’m not a football fan either (anymore) so I don’t quite get it.

  10. Yes, they’re too pricey. Yes, they can be worth it, but only if my wife is gullible (which she isn’t). Not much spin needed to see the ridiculousness. #gochiefs #foreverroyal

  11. Vegas future odds of KC winning the AFC are 10:1. Put $300 on the Chiefs, if they make it then you have enough for a ticket.

    • I actually really like that. Back when we were Vegas regulars he would bet on the Chiefs in a similar fashion at the beginning of each season. Of course the bets never paid off, but would have been enough to go to the Super Bowl if they had!

  12. I had this same discussion with my wife the past few years who wanted to go the the superbowl if her team made it. Tough to justify buying them on stubhub unless you are very wealthy or are willing to forego multiple nice vacations (I could easily create 300-400K miles with 3K to play with).

    On a sports note, the odds on that website are very likely wrong. The various sports books in Vegas are pretty consistent in giving the Chiefs about a 10% chance of winning the AFC – i.e. making the super bowl. Vegas isn’t always right but they are right a lot more than they are wrong since, you know, the house always wins.

  13. You must be using the 2nd definition of priceless below from dictionary.com, otherwise you obviously misunderstand the meaning of the word.
    ———————————————
    priceless
    [prahys-lis]
    Synonyms
    Examples
    Word Origin
    See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
    adjective
    1. having a value beyond all price; invaluable:
    a priceless artwork.
    2. delightfully amusing or absurd:
    a priceless anecdote.

    • My personal definition of a priceless experience is one that sticks with you, has a big impact in some way, can’t really be replicated, and that would probably make your own personal “highlight reel” of life.

  14. @WR Almost any priceless event is going to cost money. Whether its $1.25 in bus fare, a 600 dollar plane ticket or a $5,000 sports ticket.

    A priceless event is something you can’t put a dollar value on, for example a 80 year old cubs fan going to game 7 and seeing them win the world series. It doesn’t have to be free and in fact rarely will be.

  15. The good news is, you won’t have to fret too much over this. Andy Reid is KC’s coach. That means he will inexplicably do something insanely conservative or stupid that loses them a playoff game (and most likely the first one).

    That being said, the value is indeed there to watch your team WIN it. I’ve shelled out ~$2800 for both last year’s SB and SB 48. I’d eat ramen for a year to afford watching my team win the Super Bowl…but thankfully I had saved up for a decade with the sole purpose of that being my “Super Bowl” money. I would have had bigger regrets if somehow I had missed last year’s Super Bowl by watching it on TV. So yes, there is value in it, even if you’re not rich.

    But like I said…this isn’t something you’ll have to worry about for a while. KC has a decent defense, but the reality is that it’s more like a 0.5% chance they make it to the Super Bowl. If they’re playing the Patriots in the playoffs, then heck yeah, go Chiefs…but they will lose to them again if matched up. Only *potential* chance is if somehow seeding works out such that Baltimore eliminates New England, KC can play OAK and/or Houston and then by some miracle beats Baltimore who’s that one team that struggles in the regular season, but is great postseason. And like I said, Andy Reid will do something insane to cause his team to lose the game.

    • I’m certainly not rooting against the Chiefs, but my experience watching and hearing about the games I missed does align with what you describe. However, they have won games this year that it seemed they had no shot of winning so who knows. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  16. I actually won a trip to Super Bowl 49 in Phoenix. I really wanted to sell the tickets and bank the cash, but since we live in Seahawks country, my husband really wanted to go. I had never been to a football game before. It was nice to have some sunshine in February, but honestly there were too many people! I missed watching the commercials on TV, and eating homemade snacks. And since the Hawks infamous last play of the game, the flight home was miserable. Yeah, I could have easily had more fun by banking the cash.

  17. Hey, one could either go to a one time football game most people will not remember in 2 years or contribute the money for a “college savings 529 account” for the 2 wee ones that will continue to grow. A “PRICELESS EXPERIENCE”? You/he really can’t be serious —-

    • Well, the Super Bowl would not be a Priceless Experience for me personally, so I would prefer the money in a 529 or just sitting in our checking account for that matter. However, I do recognize that everyone has their own personal list of experiences that are priceless to them and that they will remember for a lifetime. Our 1 and 6 year old have a good start on their 529’s already and I trust that whether or not my husband goes to one Super Bowl game their college attendance and payment won’t be jeopardized.

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