by Eamonn Donlyn
Nostalgia is a term that definitely comes to mind during Super Bowl week. It’s one of those events that transcends boundaries, where everyone is a football fan regardless of interest level or knowledge of the game. And almost everyone has some kind of Super Bowl memory.
Thousands of people travel thousands of miles to be in the super city during the super week, and many of those people don’t even have a ticket to the see the game!
But for those lucky enough to attend the spectacle, one of the greatest mementos out there is a Super Bowl ticket stub. The tickets are expensive enough to buy in the first place nowadays, and if you happen to crawl out of the stadium with a ticket in decent condition, you’re likely to be rewarded for your efforts down the road.
Just like football cards, tickets have various factors that contribute to their value, with condition and rarity two of the driving forces.
Full or unused tickets are a major draw for collectors, but they also command top dollar and are at the high end of the market. The next level collector might look for torn stubs, although they can still garner a pretty penny depending on the game and condition. Replica tickets are also an option, primarily for the collector that tends to favor the look and feel of the artwork on the mementos more than anything else.
Vintage tickets are quite tough to come by, and of course the specific game is a major factor in value. Back in 1967 a ticket to watch Super Bowl I at the L.A. Coliseum would set you back just $12, but now a stub from that game will go anywhere in the $200-$750 range. If it happens to be in near perfect condition and graded as such by PSA, it can rise well above $1,000 and on up to the $4,000+ range.
Super Bowl III of course had all the factors; one of the greatest upsets in sports history, a tough ticket to find, and it also had a few variations. While the Jets monumental victory over the Colts makes it a hot item, rare variations can set it apart from all the rest. Many of the '69 tickets have a yellow or blue border at the top and sell in the $200-$1,000 range, but if you are lucky enough to own a white variant you are looking at around $3,000-$4,000 in value (see Super Bowl III stubs here). Two other games that tend to be difficult to locate are Super Bowl II (Packers v Raiders) and Super Bowl XII (Cowboys v Broncos).
Of course the 1972 Super Bowl tickets from the Miami Dolphins undefeated season are at a premium, and you can expect to pay up to $3,500 for a rare or highly graded version piece of history. But you can still find versions for under $200 if you are patient in your search.
In those days, long before anyone realized these would be collectors items, tickets were ripped at the gates and then lost in the sea of humanity. Ever since 2003, with technology leading the way tickets have been scanned, and all tickets are considered full since the 2004 prints.
Current stubs are the polar opposite from vintage tickets that went for $12, as it is nearly impossible to get into the big game for less than $1,000-$2,000. Following the game, the stubs will usually only garner around $50-$150 in the collectors market unless it is very highly graded or until some time passes.
In December of 2012, a PSA graded Gem Mint 10 full stub from Super Bowl XLVI (46) did sell for around $750. This was just less than a year after the Giants defeated the Patriots in the game, exhibiting that there can be strong value even in the short term if in pristine shape.
As for the all encompassing collectors out there, a complete run of all 46 Super Bowl tickets graded by PSA has been listed on eBay with a price tag of $9,250 for the set.
There is definitely a vibrant market out there to support all types of collectors. The time and energy spent on the artwork and design has created great demand over the years for every kind of stub. The Super Bowl is one game--not a series so the number of tickets in the marketplace is limited and most don't leave the possession of the person who was there. Whether you watched the game unfold on TV or were lucky enough to be there in person, an investment in Super Bowl ticket stubs is unique and probably the type of sports collectible that has long term staying power. See a list of the 'Most Watched' Super Bowl tickets on eBay below.
Eamonn Donlyn is a former ESPN writer and producer who currently works in broadcast marketing. He lives in Hawaii.