1. "Good luck getting a ticket."
Close to 100,000 football fans will pack into the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Feb. 5 to see the New England Patriots battle the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI. But as ticket prices have escalated over the years, watching the game from the bleachers has become a pipe dream for the average fan. The average resale ticket starts at $4,000 this year, up 74% from 2010, according to TiqIq, a sports ticket aggregator. But prices can go as high as $15,300; one suite at this year's game will set you back more than $800,000. Then there are travel costs. Hotel rates are often marked up to three or four times their regular levels during Super Bowl weekend, according to Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. And a week or so before the game, a nonstop round trip flight from New York City to Indianapolis on the Thursday before the Super Bowl, returning the following Monday, costs about $2,000 on Expedia.com. "You have to have a lot of cash and a lot of luck to end up at the Super Bowl," says Matheson.
Getting a ticket to the game last year didn't even guarantee a seat. Approximately 475 ticketed fans found themselves in standing room only after some seats were not installed in time for inspection at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. The issue is now the subject of a lawsuit, and the National Football League says it offered those fans several options: $2,400 plus a ticket to this year's Super Bowl; a game ticket to any future Super Bowl with airfare and a four night hotel stay; or a check for $5,000 or more, depending on expenses. The NFL also points out that ticket prices start between $800 and $1,200, but are marked up four or five times when they are resold.
2. "You're welcome for the stock gain."
Research has shown companies which advertise during the big game get a boost to their share prices in the days before as companies are building up the hype over their ads and after the Super Bowl. From 1996 to 2010, these Super Bowl advertisers outperformed the S&P 500 by more than 1 percent on average in the two-week period starting from the Monday before the Super Bowl through the Friday after the game, according to research by Rama Yelkur, a marketing professor for the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire who studies Super Bowl ads. Those companies that continued to promote their ads throughout the year tended to outperform the market longer, he adds. "Our research suggests that advertising in the Super Bowl is a tradable event," she says.
Then there's that stock market lore called the Super Bowl Indicator. History says if an "original" National Football League team wins the Super Bowl the Dow Jones Industrial Average will rise that year. Alternately, it drops if the winning team joined the NFL after the merger with the American Football League in 1970. Through 2011, the Super Bowl indicator has an 80% accuracy rate. But keep in mind this quirky indicator failed miserably in 2008. The Dow lost 33% even though the Giants, an "original" team, beat the Patriots 17 to 14.
3. "It's a field day for criminals."
As fans begin arriving in Indianapolis a good portion of the crowd will be up to no good, say law enforcement experts. The Super Bowl draws plenty of big spenders, and, in turn, ticket scalpers, thieves, drug dealers and other criminals looking to cash in. The games, like many other large events, are also a draw for prostitutes, some of them minors brought in by sophisticated child trafficking rings, says Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Some groups also warn about pickpockets.
Allen says his group and other anti-trafficking groups work with police leading up to the Super Bowl to bring awareness to the ways large events attract trouble. This year, Indianapolis officials say the police department is working with the Department of Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies to keep Super Bowl crime at bay. The NFL said it's working with state, federal and local law enforcement to keep attendees safe.
4. "We're a blow to productivity..."
As soon as the two teams were decided, Matt Wurst printed out a grid for coworkers to start entering the Super Bowl office pool at 360i, a New York based digital marketing agency. Each person is randomly assigned two numbers and if the final scores end in those digits they win bragging rights, says Wurst. It takes only a few minutes for people to stop by and write their names, and he says the activity helps build office camaraderie and draws more attention to the actual sport instead of the ads. His boss might not be so sure, say experts: Employers nationwide lose money in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl as workers spend time chatting about the game, setting up office pools and planning parties.
While there is no exact science to measuring the blow to productivity, outplacement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates employers lost $1 billion in wasted work during the week leading up to last year's Super Bowl weekend. Taking into account that 111 million Americans watched the game last year, the firm used average employment and wage figures to estimate that American employers lost $205 million for every 10 minutes employees spent talking about the Super Bowl instead of working. That doesn't even count the people who call in sick or show up late to work on the following Monday.
5. "...and the reason you lost money."
More than $10 billion worldwide will be wagered on the Super Bowl this year, predicts the sports betting news site Pregame.com, with over 50% of adult Americans' having some money on the game. If history is any indication, many of those gamblers will walk away empty handed. According to a January survey of 2,625 adults by coupon aggregator CouponCabin.com, 92% of people who have bet on the Super Bowl said they've lost money -- 14% lost $100 or more.
Since so many people who tune into the game can't tell a safety blitz from a cornerback blitz, about half of Super Bowl bets have little to do with the game, says RJ Bell, founder of Pregame.com
Plenty of people win too: 44% of people who said they've bet on a Super Bowl have won $100 or more, according to the CouponCabin.com survey. Twelve percent have won between $200 and $500. And putting money on the game isn't always legal. Certain states restrict people from betting on a single sports game and many forbid sports betting completely, says Bell. Still, the rules won't stop many people from setting up pools online, at work and through bookies. The NFL says it has a long opposition to gambling on games.
6. "Ads outshine the game."
Last year after the Vince Lombardi trophy was handed over, the chatter from viewers at home was just as likely to revolve around the cute kid who played Darth Vader in the Volkswagen commercial as it was on the game-winning plays. As game-time ads become more profitable, TV networks and marketers are putting more emphasis on commercials and focusing less on actual football. "Now it seems like the game is more of an afterthought," says Ken Crippen, executive director of the Professional Football Researchers Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to football history.
It's no wonder, say marketing experts: Last year's Super Bowl attracted 111 million viewers, making it the most-watched program in American TV history, according to Nielsen. For advertisers, this is prime time, says Crippen, and many are willing to pay a lot a short spot. A thirty-second ad during this year's game sold for an average $3.5 million and went as high as $4 million, according to NBC Sports. One trend this year: companies are buying multiple spots to air ads longer than 30 seconds, according to the network. Meanwhile, companies begin building up hype for their expensive ads weeks before the game by announcing star actors, offering previews and promoting them on Twitter, says Yelkur. This year, some are rolling out smartphone apps to draw more attention to the commercials.
7. "The stadium may be in the crosshairs."
The sheer number of people worldwide who tune in to watch the game make the Super Bowl a likely target for a terrorist attack, researchers say. A joint report by Texas Tech, the University of Colorado and the University of Miami found that sporting events like the Super Bowl could be significant targets because of their connection to the American economy and culture, their global appeal and the potential for mass casualties."It's the most watched event in the world, so you get the notoriety," says John Miller, one of the researchers. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security said there was no specific terrorist threat to the Super Bowl but warned that such high profile events draw interest from terror groups.
As a result, attendees can expect massive security measures including bag checks, pat downs and video surveillance. Last year DHS partnered with the NFL to launch an awareness campaign encouraging people to report suspicious activities. Many fans welcome the extra security measures in exchange for a sense of safety, according to the survey. The NFL says it works closely with local, state and federal agencies, including DHS to reduce the risk of an attack.
8. "We're an excuse to splurge."
Hosting a Super Bowl party has become as American as, well, football. Of the roughly 170 million people who are expected to watch the game this year, 15% plan to host a party, while another 27% are planning to attend one, according to a survey from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association. It's estimated that Americans will an average of more than $60 on merchandise and snacks for the game, the survey found. But many party hosts will spend much more. Rebecca Bromberg, 33, for example, is planning to shell out between $100 and $200 to keep the chili, chips and beer flowing at her first Super Bowl bash this year. The Columbia University administrator plans to hunt down paper goods with the Giants logo to make the event more festive. To keep costs down, she decided against ordering pizza and has asked her 20 or so guests to pitch in beer and wine.
More than 5 million fans plan on spending even more by upgrading their TV sets for the big game, up from 4.5 million last year. Electronics and retail experts say their timing is good: many current TV sales are some of the best ever -- even beating holiday-season deals.
9. "The hoopla isn't super for the local economy."
Every year, cities throughout the country vie for a chance to host America's favorite game. For many of them, the journey to the winning bid includes expensive upgrades or even building a new stadium. Local officials routinely promise that these costs are more than covered by the hundreds of millions of dollars the game will bring to the local economy. Indeed, some host committees working to bring the game to their towns have estimated that the event will result in up to $500 million in economic activity.
The reality may be fraction of that number, according to research from the College of Holy Cross. "We think the numbers are greatly exaggerated," says Holy Cross's Matheson. Many of the figures used to quantify how much people spend on Super Bowl weekend don't take into account that such spending takes away from money that would normally go to other local businesses and events, he says. As a result, the actual boost to the economy is somewhere between $30 million and $90 million, Matheson figures.
Many of these host cities are already strong tourist destinations so economists measuring the impact of the Super Bowl should look at the change in spending during that week instead of total spending, says Matheson. For example, if a hotel that normally has 80% of its rooms booked on the weekends is 100% booked on Super Bowl weekend, researchers should look at that 20% boost instead of the full occupancy, says Matheson. What's more, some of the money spent at national chains gets funneled to corporate headquarters in other cities, he adds.
To be sure, small businesses do get more exposure and new customers when their town hosts the Super Bowl. Better yet, businesses often have to hire additional workers to prepare for the event and influx of visitors, says Matheson, which could boost employment in the region. An NFL spokesman said the Super Bowl draws more than 100,000 visitors to the host city and they likely to boost the economy.
10. "Watching the game could give you a heart attack."
Your team is in the lead going into the fourth quarter, but in the last few minutes, a surprising touchdown erases all of that. Your heart starts racing and you clutch your chest. An intense Super Bowl loss may increase the likelihood of a heart attack for some fans, says Dr. Robert A. Kloner, director of research of the heart institute at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles and a professor of medicine and the University of Southern California. The excitement of a game like the Super Bowl can lead to hearts racing, a blood clot or an irregular heartbeat, he says. In research released last year, Dr. Kloner looked at the number of deaths due to heart disease following Super Bowl wins and losses. But since his hometown doesn't have a professional football team at the moment, he had to look back 30 years to when the Los Angeles Rams lost the Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1980 and at the victory of the L.A. Raiders over the Washington Redskins in 1984.
The research found that a Super Bowl loss triggered an increase in cardiac-related deaths for both men and women, especially for those at least 65 years old. A win, however, had very little impact to death rates due to heart attacks, perhaps because those game was not as exciting, says Dr. Kloner. (The Rams, which are now in St. Louis, were in the lead until the fourth quarter when the Steelers scored two touch downs. On the other hand the Raiders, which have since moved to Oakland, won with a substantial 38-9 lead over the Washington Redskins.) To be sure, advances in treating heart disease may reduce such risks today, and Dr. Kloner says he is expanding his research to take a similar look at other cities around the U.S. In the meantime, people with heart conditions should be sure to take their medicine and use relaxation exercises if the game gets too heated, says Dr. Kloner. And take it easy on the beer and chips.