There's nothing like the feeling of rolling up to your local sports stadium, ticket in hand, to see your heroes up close and personal. However, those who simply must have the best seat in the house had better make sure the bank balance is hefty. Here's a sampling of the most expensive sports tickets for the current season and into the spring of 2011. Note that these prices are a combination of both primary and secondary market pricing. (For more, check out Who's Cashing In On Pro Sports Revenue?) IN PICTURES: March Madness MVPs - Where Are They Now?
The Super Bowl carries the most expensive ticket prices and packages of any of the major professional sports. This season's extravaganza, scheduled for February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, carries a whopping $9,000 price tag for premium seats in the "100 section," which are by the way, already sold out.
Too steep? Then $1,500 gets you in the parking lot to tailgate (no stadium entrance included). But if you really want to impress your pals with a total NFL experience, a luxury suite for 25 - fully catered of course - will only set you back about $200,000.
Speaking of the NFL, when the scheduling Gods planned the 2010 season opener for the New Orleans Saints, they did one heck of a job. Not only were the defending Super Bowl champion Saints meeting the Minnesota Vikings (and sure-to-be Hall of Famer quarterback Brett Favre), it was a rematch of last season's thrilling NFC Championship Game that saw New Orleans win on their way to the club's first Super Bowl. It also drew the highest priced ticket of any team for the NFL regular season to date, at $575 (face value, no mark-up fee, no parking). To the delight of the sell-out crowd, the Saints won this one too, 14-9.
IN PICTURES: Top 5 Super Bowl Host Cities
Here's the perfect holiday present for the ultimate hoops fan: a courtside ticket to the Miami Heat / Los Angeles Lakers game on December 25, 2010 at the Staples Center in L.A. The average price per ticket is the most expensive in the league at $893. But when a "regular" seat won't do, you have options: The front row behind the visiting team's bench costs over $6,000 for each seat (and you must buy four seats). But Miami's LeBron James, the big-name draw, won't be sitting much anyway. For a few bucks less ($5,000 each) you can get an unobstructed view of King James battling under the boards with Lakers' star Kobe Bryant from center court.
Courtside seats for the NBA All-Star Game on February 20, 2011 (also in L.A.) cost a bit more at $6,500 but you get to see all the league's big stars lumber up and down the court.
NCAA Final Four
College hoops fans might just be the most enthusiastic of the whole bunch. They spend months following the teams, weeks mapping out their grids, and hours on end glued to the TV or internet telecasts. And the folks who organize the tournament know it. A seat in the lower tier of the championship game at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas on April 4 will set you back on average about $3,500. (Mere mortals can sit in the nosebleed section for a modest $175.) (For more, see America's Richest Sports Team Owners.)
Professional hockey has fallen out of favor in recent years with American audiences, but the sport's marquee game this season is the Winter Classic on January 1, between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals at Heinz Field. The annual outdoor game has been a huge success in the past, and this years edition should be no different. With the game already sold out, you can expect to shell out $300 - for the worst seats in the house. For club seats in the lower bowl you're looking at a $3,000 price tag.
During the regular season, the Vancouver Canucks' home game at Rogers Arena on December 18 against the Toronto Maple Leafs (these two teams average the highest ticket prices in the league) will cost $900 for front row seats just off center ice. To compare, the N.Y. Rangers and longtime rival Philadelphia Flyers face off at the storied Madison Square Garden in NYC on January 16 for a paltry $295.
Major League Baseball
The 2010 season is over, but baseball junkies can already order tickets for the 2011 All-Star Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, on July 12. But act fast! Box seats behind home plate are $3,600 each, and you must buy them in pairs; Dugout box seats are $1,800, and third-base box seats are $1,500 each. (For more, check out Baseball's Best Ticket Bargains.) Horse Racing
Not all fans are aficionados of sports that involve varied-sized balls. The Kentucky Derby is arguably the most renowned equestrian event in thoroughbred racing. Seating in "Millionaire's Row" at Churchill Downs for the May 7, 2011 leg of the Triple Crown will set you back about $4,000 (must buy two or four seats). Mint julep, anyone?
The Bottom Line
Like any retail industry, ticket prices for sporting events are determined by the economics of supply and demand. The high-end seats are not for the budget-conscious. (Are these tickets a little out of your price-range? Then check out our 8 Money Saving Tips For Sports Fans slideshow.)
Find out what happened in financial news this week. Read Water Cooler Finance: G20 Leader Spats And China Fakes It.