How to travel to the Super Bowl as cheaply as possible
When "cheap" means around $13,000 for two
With the San Francisco 49ers currently 2-to-1 favorites to beat Green Bay at Levi’s Stadium next weekend and thus gain a spot in the Super Bowl, some Bay Area fans might be considering a quick trip to Miami for the big game. It’s not too late to book, but it’s very expensive.
Of course, if you can afford to live in San Francisco or Silicon Valley, the cost of a Super Bowl weekend shouldn’t be a problem, right? ;)
Super Bowl LIV will happen on Sunday, Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. (just north of Miami International Airport), the home of the Miami Dolphins. If the 49ers beat Green Bay in the NFC championship game, their Super Bowl opponent will be either the Tennessee Titans or the Kansas City Chiefs. The Super Bowl halftime performers will be Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.
Let’s look at some of the costs, which we checked on Monday (Jan. 13).
The biggest cost item in your weekend trip to the Super Bowl will be a seat in Hard Rock Stadium. On Monday, the official NFL ticketing site nflonlocation.com was showing a starting ticket price of $4,250 per seat. That’s for a spot in the highest tier behind the end zone (better bring your binoculars). Ticket prices rise significantly as you move closer to midfield and lower down in the stadium.
The real prime seats at Hard Rock Stadium are in onething called The 72 Club, an exclusive seating area at the lowest level along the 50 yard line. Nflonlocation.com was showing seats in that area at a starting price of $29,750 per person.
Prices were comparable at other ticket sellers, although slightly higher for the nosebleed seats. VividSeats.com seats range from around $3,500 each up to over $10,000 closer to the field or the 50-yard line. The price range at Ticketmaster.com was $5,067 to $19,060 for standard seats, and $26,538 to $33,775 for The 72 Club. Stubhub.com showed a price range of $5,250 to $25,000.
Air fares are highly variable, of course, and with the 49ers in contention for a Super Bowl spot, the cost of flying to Miami from San Francisco is already taking a big jump for that weekend. When we checked prices on SkyScanner.com Monday for a roundtrip from SFO to Miami Feb. 1-3 (Friday or Saturday-Monday), the best nonstop price we found was $987 on American. United’s best price was $1,038. By contrast, a non-stop Saturday-Monday roundtrip from SFO to Miami for the following weekend (Feb. 8-10) is currently running just $339 on American and $438 on United.
Prices are about the same or slightly higher on nonstops from the Bay Area to nearby Ft Lauderdale-- both JetBlue and United nonstops are about $1,200 roundtrip.
A one-stop itinerary brings the roundtrip cost down considerably on those Feb. 1-3 dates – e.g., $375 on American from SFO via LAX or $380 on Frontier via Atlanta. We couldn’t find any nonstops from San Jose to Miami for Feb. 1-3; the best roundtrip deals were all one-stops on American, ranging from $335 via LAX to $391 via Dallas/Ft. Worth. Ditto for Oakland, where the best price on a non-redeye one-stop to Miami was $378 on American via Phoenix. Skyscanner puts together a few sketchy one-stop connections on Frontier and Spirit Air for as little as $250 round trip if you dare.
Hotel rates are following the pattern of air fares. The good news is that the Miami and the entire South Florida area has a huge amount of hotel capacity. The bad news is that the Super Bowl comes during the peak winter vacation season for visits to South Florida.
STR, a Colorado-based firm that tracks hotel industry performance, is projecting an average daily rate in the Miami/Hialeah lodging market of $520 to $540 a night for Friday, January 31 through Sunday, February 2.
“Miami is interesting because high season for the market is February and March,” said Blake Reiter, STR’s director of custom forecasts. “The projections for the Super Bowl will not necessarily reflect high percentage changes from last year, but the ADR (average daily rate) we are forecasting is unprecedented because the market is already so strong in February. This mega event is adding a layer to that already elevated performance.”
For Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta last year, STR said, the average daily hotel rate was $313, and hotels were 75.7 percent full. For Miami this year, STR is projecting an occupancy rate of 91 to 94 percent – even though the Miami market has added 10,000 rooms since the Super Bowl was last held there in 2010. (When the Bay Area last hosted a Super Bowl in 2016, the average daily hotel rate was $402 and the occupancy level was 77.1 percent.)
We checked Marriott.com for hotel rates in Miami Feb. 1-3; the first screen of results included 40 properties across all the group’s brands. Every one was listed as "sold out" for those dates. But according to this Marriott page, there are 124 Marriott hotels in the greater Miami area. We found a Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites near Miami Airport going for just over $500 per night.
Trivago.com turned up a few lodging options for Feb. 1-3 on the various hotel booking sites it monitors. They included two nights at the three-star Miami International Airport Hotel for $639; two nights at the four-star Novotel Miami Brickell for $1,615; two nights at the three-star La Quinta Inn & Suites Miami Airport for $639; and two nights at the two-star Red Roof Plus+ Miami Airport for $669. There's a Candlewood Suites near the stadium going for $450 per night.
When checking VRBO for availability over Super Bowl weekend in the Miami Springs area, we found several basic home rentals going for about $450 per night plus fees. Not bad for a group splitting costs.
So to sum up, two people making the trip can figure on around $10,000 for a pair of less-than-great seats; $2,000 for two roundtrip non-stop airline tickets from SFO; and maybe $800-$1,000 for a non-luxury hotel room or short term rental for two nights, or roughly $13,000 for the two-night weekend. And then you can figure in your local transportation and meal costs. But act fast, because everything is booking up quickly, and if the 49ers win next weekend, air fares are likely to soar even higher.
Would you consider a trip to Miami for the Super Bowl? Share your thoughts in THE COMMENTS.
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Chris McGinnis is SFGATE's senior travel correspondent. You can reach him via email or follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Don't miss a shred of important travel news by signing up for his FREE biweekly email updates!
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