MINNEAPOLIS — When he was 6, Michael Wolf and his dad Dennis decided that some day, they would attend the Super Bowl. Both ardent fans of the NFL and its biggest game, Wolf never realized then that it would take almost 50 years to cross that off each other's bucket list.
"But when are we going to have another chance like this," said Wolf, a diagnostic radiologist with Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. "A beautiful new stadium in Minneapolis. My father has always enjoyed watching people, and this is the ultimate people-watching event. And on top of that, we get to watch the Super Bowl."
On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 at U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Wolfs will be on the 50-yard line, six rows up to watch the game. It's one of the most expensive tickets in the building, and in June, he paid $27,600 for the two seats in the Delta Sky Club.
His dad's response: "It's about time we went."
"My father is 83, and he doesn't get around too well," Wolf said. "So we get in the stadium three hours before, and my goal is to get in there before the crowd. We can stay for an hour and half after the game, so the crowd will have thinned out by then. We get all the food and drink, and we can go on to the field after the game and mill around the players as they celebrate.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing, a memory-maker. We've been wanting to do this for almost 50 years so we're going to do it right. We're going to enjoy each other's company and have a great experience together."
Others didn't plan ahead, and it's become cost prohibitive for many fans to attend the game. According to TicketIQ, the average resale cost of Super Bowl tickets is around $9,000, up almost $4,000 from last year, in part because there aren't as many tickets available this year.
The cheapest ticket available on StubHub on Monday was $3,249, which doesn't include fees, but there were only two tickets remaining at that price. SeatGeek showed the least expensive ticket at $3,400 and the most expensive at $15,000.
The good news, if there is such a thing, is that ticket prices fell by as much as $500 after the Minnesota Vikings were eliminated in the NFC Championship game. And they could go lower, which is a relative term, as it gets closer to game time, if there aren't enough customers to buy the product.
The face value for a ticket to this Super Bowl ranged from $950 near the top of the stadium to $5,000 for premier club seating.
U.S. Bank Stadium holds slightly more than 66,000 fans, but that number will be reduced by a couple thousand because of security issues. Of the remaining tickets, 25 percent go to the media, corporate sponsors and NFL players. The Eagles and Patriots each receive 17.5 percent of the tickets, with the rest split equally among the remaining NFL teams.
Todd Loosbrock, regional president for U.S. Bank, said his company's main perk is having its name on the stadium where the Super Bowl is being played. He's not planning to attend the game, which has been cost prohibitive for many of the state's football fans. He wasn't aware of anyone needing a loan to buy a ticket.
"What we get is a lot of exposure, which has been pretty awesome on behalf of our customers in Minnesota," he said. "Hopefully, there's a new level of pride in our bank."
Jon Goerish and his wife Shawnda are coming in from Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, with a neighbor couple, having just finalized their plans two weeks ago. They only have two tickets to the game, which were given to them by a friend who couldn't use them. The price of a hotel was going to be $500 per night so they're staying with friends.
He was in the crowd for the playoff win against New Orleans and was hoping the Vikings would still be playing.
"We've been looking online (for game tickets) for about two months, and we've seen anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500 per ticket," Goerish said. "We still haven't figured out who's going to the game. If we stumbled on tickets that were close to face value, we'd consider (buying two more), but the odds of that aren't great."
Melissa Gallagher, from Enfield, Connecticut, was wandering around Mall of America on Monday, having just arrived in town, wearing her New England Patriots jacket and hat. She planned this trip six months ago, confident her team would be playing, and booked a flight and hotel combo for the week for $900, long before the price-gouging began.
But she doesn't have game tickets.
"I want to go, but I can't afford that much," she said, watching a group of Patriots players having some lunch. "I looked online, and it was $8,000."
She was taking in the Super Bowl Media Day at Excel Energy Center in St. Paul on Monday night, and she has tickets to the tailgate party before the game on Sunday. She'll be looking for tickets to come available late, but if not, she has friends in town and can watch the game with them.
"I'm going to be rooting for my Patriots somewhere," she said. "I'll be out there, trying to get a ticket."