Has the booming economy led to pricier Super Bowl tickets this year?

With Super Bowl ticket prices at a record high this year — topping $5,000 on ticket exchange sites — what's pushing up the cost? And with low unemployment and a booming economy, are more Americans willing to splurge this year?

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest spending occasions of the year, with the National Retail Federation estimating that Americans will spend $15.3 billion celebrating the big game. People will be dishing out dough on dough (well, pizza), wings, booze, and possibly a new big-screen TV.

And hey, why not? After all, it's not like the vast majority of us can actually afford to go to the game. The cheapest seat in the run-up to Sunday's game was going for a whopping $3,145 on ticket reseller StubHub. And for that price, you'd be sitting in the upper end zone, which is about as high up and as off-center as you can get. Consider purchasing a pair of binoculars as well and a major zoom lens for your smartphone camera.

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Super Bowl LII WAGs: Wives and girlfriends of Patriots and Eagles players
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Super Bowl LII WAGs: Wives and girlfriends of Patriots and Eagles players

Camille Kostek, girlfriend of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski

It’s widely reported that this former Patriots cheerleader has been dating Gronk on and off since 2015, one year after she left the team. Perhaps this was due to the NFL’s “no fraternization” rule, which forbids contact between players and cheerleaders outside games and other league events. Now, she’s working as a model and reportedly trying to break into broadcast journalism.

Photo credit: Instagram @camillekostek

Camille Kostek, girlfriend of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski

Photo credit: Instagram @camillekostek

Julie Ertz, wife of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz

One half of a mega-athletic power couple, Julie Ertz nèe Johnson was a defender on the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s soccer team in 2015. The 25-year-old appeared in the viral headlines recently when she missed her husband’s NFC Championship game for a USWNT exhibition, only to cry tears of joy when she found out he’d be going to the Super Bowl. She also posed in ESPN’s Body Issue last summer.

Photo credit: Instagram @julieertz

Julie Ertz, wife of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz

Photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Marissa Van Noy, wife of Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy

Kyle Van Noy actually met his future wife in 2011 when she was just 18, a couple years before she was named Miss Utah USA in 2013. She almost won the national competition, too, placing as third runner-up and winning Miss Photogenic at the pageant.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Steve Marcus

Marissa Van Noy, wife of Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy

Photo credit: Instagram @realmarissavannoy

Viviana Volpicelli, girlfriend of Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor

Volpicelli is a beauty blogger and model who graduated from USC in 2017, a few years after Agholor did.

Photo Credit: Instagram @viviana_volpicelli

Viviana Volpicelli, girlfriend of Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor

Photo Credit: Instagram @viviana_volpicelli

Olivia Culpo, girlfriend of Patriots receiver Danny Amendola

Only a “pretty good-looking guy” like Danny Amendola (according to Tom Brady) could snag a lady like Culpo, a former Miss USA and Sports Illustrated model for the upcoming 2018 swimsuit issue. These two were first spotted together cuddling at Coachella in 2016.

Photo credit: Instagram @oliviaculpo

Olivia Culpo, girlfriend of Patriots receiver Danny Amendola

Photo credit: Instagram @oliviaculpo

Mackenzie Dempsey, fiancé of Patriots center David Andrews

Dempsey and Andrews are the classic football couple. They met while they were both attending the University of Georgia -- Andrews was a three-year starter at center, while Dempsey was a cheerleader. Even though Andrews graduated in spring 2015, he went back to Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. in the fall to propose to Dempsey at the 50-yard line of the field they often shared.

Photo credit: Instagram @mackdemp26

Mackenzie Dempsey, fiancé of Patriots center David Andrews

Photo credit: Instagram @mackdemp26

Morissa Jenkins, wife of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins

Morissa and Malcolm married and had a daughter, Elle, while he played for the New Orleans Saints between 2009-2013. The show-stopping pair once walked down the aisle together at the Saks Fifth Avenue Player Wives’ Association Charitable Fashion Show in 2014.

Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Morissa Jenkins, wife of Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins

Photo credit: Instagram @bellameaux

Ricki Noel Lander, girlfriend of Patriots owner Robert Kraft

The 38-year-old Lander and the 76-year-old Kraft have experienced some bizarre publicity attached to their May-December relationship, but they’re still going after more than five years of dating.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Gus Ruelas

Ricki Noel Lander, girlfriend of Patriots owner Robert Kraft

Photo credit: Noel Vasquez/GC Images

Ashley Boccio, wife of Patriots receiver Chris Hogan

This pair got engaged during a trip to New York in 2014, and tied the knot in July 2017. They have two Great Danes and welcomed their first children, twins Chase and Parker, to the family last year.

Photo credit: Instagram @chrishogan_15

Ashley Boccio, wife of Patriots receiver Chris Hogan

Photo credit: Instagram @chrishogan_15

Emily Stratton, girlfriend of Patriots punter Ryan Allen

Stratton works as a nurse and studied at the University of Portland.

Photo credit: Instagram @estratton

Emily Stratton, girlfriend of Patriots punter Ryan Allen

Photo credit: Instagram @estratton

Diana Civi, girlfriend of Patriots running back James White

Civi went to college with White at Wisconsin, where she earned a degree in general biology.  

Photo credit: Instagram @dianacivii

Diana Civi, girlfriend of Patriots running back James White

Photo credit: Instagram @dianacivii

Chelsey Walton, girlfriend of Patriots safety Nate Ebner

Ebner, a Patriots special teamer, met his girlfriend while they both attended Ohio State. Walton is a nutrition specialist, which might have helped Ebner when he rotated between representing the USA in the 2016 Olympics on the rugby team and playing in last year’s Super Bowl in a span of six months.

Photo credit: Instagram

Chelsey Walton, girlfriend of Patriots safety Nate Ebne

Photo credit: Instagram @chelseyjwalton

Sascha Smith, girlfriend of Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery

Jeffery was previously engaged in 2014, as was Smith (to former NBA star Ben Gordon). But after the wideout seemed to endure a bit of a messy breakup with his former fiancée, he and Smith have mostly stayed out of the public eye -- Jeffery’s Instagram is private, a rarity for a high-profile athlete. They welcomed a daughter named Kaiya in 2017.

Photo credit: Instagram @calhounpresident

Terri Foles, wife of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles

These lovebirds got married after spending only two months engaged from February to April 2014. They both had already been dating for years, however, as athletes at the University of Arizona. Tori played volleyball while Nick led the Wildcats to one of the team’s most successful periods in recent memory. They welcomed their first child, a girl named Lily, in June of 2017.

Photo credit: Instagram

Terri Foles, wife of Eagles quarterback Nick Foles

Photo credit: Twitter

Melissa Uhrich, girlfriend of Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz

Unfortunately, Wentz won’t be playing in the Super Bowl due to his torn knee ligament. But it’s still worth highlighting his high school sweetheart, Melissa Uhrich. Despite attending different colleges in North Dakota, they only lived 4 miles apart. Even though Wentz plays in Philadelphia in the NFL now, they don’t live together because of their religious beliefs.

Photo credit: Twitter

Jeannie Pederson, wife of Eagles coach Doug Pederson

Jeannie and Doug met on a blind date at a Louisiana pizzeria in 1990, then married the next year when Jeannie was still a high school senior and Doug was a freshman in college. She then completed her nursing degree and played basketball at Louisiana College while he played quarterback professionally in Europe before eventually returning stateside and getting into coaching. They now have three boys named Joel, Josh and Drew.

Photo credit: Instagram

Linda Holliday, girlfriend of Patriots coach Bill Belichick

You’d likely never guess if you knew Bill Belichick’s personality, but he reportedly met his longtime girlfriend -- who’s 11 years younger than he is -- in a Florida nightclub in 2007. The old-school coach then apparently sent her flowers the next day, and the rest is history.

Photo credit: Instagram @lindaholliday_

Linda Holliday, girlfriend of Patriots coach Bill Belichick

Photo credit: Instagram @lindaholliday_

Gisele Bundchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

Brady and Bundchen have been dating since 2006, having long reigned as an NFL power couple. Brady tied the knot with the Brazilian model in 2009 and they now have two kids together. Bundchen reportedly wants Brady to retire, but for now, she’s still queen of the NFL WAGs.

Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Gisele Bundchen, wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

Photo credit: Instagram @gisele

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That's a record-high price for the big game, StubHub told NBC News. "According to our current data, this year’s game will have the highest average ticket price [$5,415 on StubHub] of the last 10 years — and since StubHub has been tracking," said communications manager Cameron Papp.

That’s more than six times the face value price of a 2018 Super Bowl ticket, which is a minimum of $900, said Michael D. Colangelo, assistant director of projects for University of Southern California's Sports Business Institute, adding that even that face value price is “something a normal middle class family couldn’t get.”

Because the game isn't designed for fans

More interestingly, perhaps, is that not only is a $900 ticket something the average American cannot afford, it’s not a ticket that the average American can even access. Unless they have “connections,” or unless they win the NFL lottery, your everyday fan is pretty much unable to buy a ticket at face value.

This makes the inflation of secondary markets like StubHub all the more feasible. Sure, some resellers infamously jack up prices for their own profit — but consumers don't really have much of a choice; they can't just log on to the team's or the NFL's site and buy tickets. The system just isn't designed that way.

Colangelo explained that it all has to do with the way the NFL divvies up Super Bowl tickets. The home team gets 5 percent of the tickets, while 17.5 percent of the tickets goes to the AFC Champion and another 17.5 percent goes to the NFC Champion. Roughly 1.2 percent goes to each of the remaining NFL teams who aren’t in the big game. There are also tickets available through the NFL’s On Location Program, which anyone can purchase — but these packages are also in the several-thousand dollar range. And then there’s the 25 percent the NFL reserves to sell to its partners. What’s left for the average gal who saved up roughly a grand for a ticket? Well, nothing. She has to go to StubHub or some other secondary marketplace.

Related: Hand warmers and hip-hop: How Minneapolis is preparing for the Super Bowl

Resellers must be feeling pretty confident that they can make $5,000 or so on a ticket that cost a thousand bucks tops. And they have reason to; according to StubHub’s Papp, ticket sales were up 66 percent compared to the leadup to the 2017 game. Keep in mind that this ticket price surely doesn’t include all the other bells and whistles, like food, travel, and accommodation.

Have prices seen a Trump bump?

One wonders whether it’s not a robust economy that’s driving ticket sales (and anything you need to go along with them), but Dr. Joseph Mahan, associate professor at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management, doesn’t see much of a connection between the two.

“It is difficult to draw any direct correlation between price of Super Bowl tickets and robustness of the economy,” Dr. Mahan said. “The Super Bowl is a — or perhaps the — signature sporting event spectacle in the U.S, [and] scarcity of tickets is a factor. There is a finite number available for the game each year, and about 66,000 tickets this year. While prices may vary slightly from year to year, the price point is likely to stay high despite changes in the economy.”

13 PHOTOS
The 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl
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The 13 teams that have never won a Super Bowl

Cincinnati Bengals

Super Bowl appearances: XVI and XXIII

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Buffalo Bills

Super Bowl appearances: XXV, XXVI, XXVII and XXVIII

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) 

Cleveland Browns

Super Bowl appearances: none

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Arizona Cardinals

Super Bowl appearances: XLIII

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Los Angeles Chargers

Super Bowl appearances: XXIX

(Photo via REUTERS/Danny Moloshok)

Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl appearances: XXXIII and LI

(Photo by Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Super Bowl appearances: none

(Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

Detroit Lions

Super Bowl appearances: none

(Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl appearances: XXXVIII and 50

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Houston Texans

Super Bowl appearances: none

(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Tennessee Titans

Super Bowl appearances: XXXIV

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Minnesota Vikings

Super Bowl appearances: IV, VIII, IX and XI

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl appearances: XV and XXXIX

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Colangelo adds that he also doesn’t see a strong link, noting that the economy has been doing well for a while now, and that Super Bowl pricing was similarly absurd in 2015. “The day before that Super Bowl, the average price on the secondary market was almost $11,000 — astronomical,” said Colangelo. “I went to the game trying to buy a ticket with $3,000 cash in my pocket. Nobody would bite. Another person there was willing to give up a brand new Kia in exchange for a pair of tickets. That was a crazy year.”

Related: This year's Super Bowl will produce zero waste

The enthusiasm this year is in the same ballpark so to speak, in part because the Eagles haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 2004 (when they had their second loss at the championship title), and they have a pretty ravenous fan base, with StubHub reporting that of all the states, Pennsylvania is leading for sales, accounting for 14 percent (followed by Massachusetts at 10 percent, and then Minnesota at 9.1 percent).

“Philly hasn't been in the game for years, and you can feel the buzz here, 15 miles outside of the city,” says David Fiorenza, an economics instructor at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. “Philly has long been considered a blue-collar town, and they only have eight home games a year, so they're rabid for it — but there’s much less supply than there is demand. And really, it’s mainly the very rich people who get to go and have a good time.”

But it's still a blast to watch at home

It’s a bit dismal to realize that yes, you need a massive amount of money to get to this game (especially if you’re coming from out of state), and that virtually none of this day is set up to prioritize the fans. But dry that grease strip under your eye because team spirit remains as vital as ever, and people are ready to party NFL-style from the comfort of their own home. And ironically, it’s what the NFL wants.

“The NFL has made ‘homegating’ (throwing tailgate-style parties at home) a focus of its marketing push in recent years, encouraging fans to bring a lot of the behaviors of attending the game — decking out the house in team gear, making a full spread of food and drink from NFL sponsors — into their living room,” said Kyle Bunch, managing director at marketing and advertising firm R/GA. “That has coincided with the increased cost of attending a game, meaning a number of fans who might previously have attended a game are now conditioned to go all out, even when they’re viewing at home.”

And while the NRF’s spending breakdown finds that adults will spend an average of $81.17 each for Super Bowl Sunday, some are of course hoping to spend far less.

For 32-year-old Anthony Cosenzo in St. Petersburg, Florida, he’ll be partying with fellow Eagles devotees along with “a big keg of Yuengling beer and orders of hot wings and cheese fries.” He estimates that so far, he’s spent about $20.

So, although you may be able to buy a Super Bowl ticket if you can scrounge up several thousand dollars, you can’t necessarily buy a great day.

15 PHOTOS
What life was like last time the Patriots and Eagles faced off in the Super Bowl
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What life was like last time the Patriots and Eagles faced off in the Super Bowl

2004 Best Picture winner: 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' 

(Photo credit should read DEAN TREML/AFP/Getty Images)

2004 Billboard No. 1: 'Yeah' by Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris

(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

A then-27-year-old Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl victory on February 1, 2004.

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan on April 22 while serving with the U.S. Army Rangers.

(Photo via REUTERS/Photography Plus C/O Stealth Media Solutions/Handout)

On May 6, the final episode of 'Friends' aired on NBC.

David Bjerke/NBCU Photo Bank

2004 NBA Finals Champion: Detroit Pistons

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The 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup in the team's first-ever championship appearance. 

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

President Ronald Reagan passed away on June 5, 2004 at the age of 93. 

(Photo by Alex Quesada/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Construction for the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center began on July 4, 2004, just short of three years after the attacks on 9/11 destroyed the original World Trade Center.

(Photo by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Lance Armstrong won his record sixth Tour de France cycling title on July 25. 

(Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

The Montreal Expos played their final game on October 3 before moving to Washington, DC, in 2005 as the Washington Nationals. 

 (Photo by Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The 2004 Boston Red Sox won the franchise's first World Series in 86 years. 

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

President George W. Bush was re-elected to his second term in office on November 2.

(Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

President Bush was sworn in for his second term on January 20, 2005.

(Photo by George Bridges/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)

The first iPhone was still over two years away from being produced. 

(Photo via REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw)

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