Sports

Counting the cost of being a fan: The NFL's priciest teams to support

The total fan cost of attending a pro football game can be greater than half a week's salary, depending on the team

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

A Sunday afternoon spent at an NFL game can sometimes feel like an all-out blitz. You head to the stadium, park your car, scan your ticket, head to the concession stand to buy your hot dog, soda and beer, then run a curl route to the team store to deck yourself out in some team swag before putting your head down and bouncing through obstacles to get to your seat ahead of kickoff. 

By the time the game begins, you realize you might be ready to call a 15-yard penalty for roughing the wallet.

The cost of being a fan can add up quickly. And if you think NFL ticket prices are too high, you're not alone. A New Jersey man earlier this year sued the league, saying it prices the average fan out of attending the Super Bowl. 

Indeed, ticket prices for Sunday's big match-up between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks have gone down significantly, perhaps due to expected cold weather. But even so, they'll still run you around $1,500 a seat.

That's the Super Bowl, but what about the regular season?  

The cost to attend an NFL game depends on which of the league's 32 franchises you support. Al Jazeera — with help from the sports business research firm Team Marketing Report — breaks down the cost of tickets, concessions and souvenirs, and compares them with regional income figures to lay it all out in the table below (click here to see all 32 teams).


Sortable table: The cost of attending an NFL game

Team Average ticket Average premium ticket Beer Soft drink Hot dog Parking Fan Cost Index® Median income % of weekly income to attend a game
Dallas Cowboys $110.20 $340.00 $8.50 (16 oz) $5.00 (20 oz) $5.50 $75.00 $634.78 $56,954 57.96%
New England Patriots $117.84 $566.67 $7.50 (20 oz) $4.00 (20 oz) $3.75 $40.00 $611.26 $71,738 44.31%
NFL average $81.54 $247.85 $7.05 (17 oz) $4.48 (20 oz) $5.07 $30.57 $459.55 $51,371 46.51%
Denver Broncos $84.27 $293.56 $6.75 (16 oz) $4.50 (20 oz) $5.00 $30.00 $458.48 $61,453 38.80%
Seattle Seahawks $71.21 $171.41 $8.00 (16 oz) $4.50 (20 oz) $5.75 $50.00 $433.86 $65,677 34.35%
Cleveland Browns $54.20 $205.02 $5.00 (12 oz) $4.25 (16 oz) $4.75 $25.00 $343.80 $46,944 38.08%
Sources: Cost data comes from Team Marketing Report's September 2013 numbers. The Fan Cost Index® includes the price of four average-price tickets; two small draft beers; four small soft drinks; four regular-size hot dogs; parking for one car; two game programs; and two least-expensive adjustable caps (program and cap costs not listed above). Median income for metro areas comes from the U.S. Census 2012 American Community Survey one-year estimates, in 2012 inflation-adjusted dollars. For full table, click here.


The New England Patriots claim the highest average ticket price at $117.84. The Pats are followed by the two teams that call MetLife Stadium, host of Sunday's Super Bowl, home — the New York Giants and the New York Jets, whose average seats go for $111.69 and $110.28 respectively.  

So given that the average median household income in the New York metro area is $63,982, that sets back fans about 47 percent of their weekly income — to watch a pair of teams that didn't even make the playoffs this season. 

As for teams where you can enjoy the fan experience for the lowest percentage of your weekly income, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers fans are in luck, unless of course they fall short of the $74,922 median income figure for the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif., metro area, according to the American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau. The Bay Area's average salary ranks highest among the NFL's markets, perhaps skewed by big paychecks collected by tech industry workers, who have been at the center of rising tensions in the area due to inflated housing costs. 

The Dallas Cowboys sack fans hardest, with tickets, concessions and souvenirs totaling nearly 58 percent of the area's weekly income, including a $110.20 average ticket price and a cool $75 to park at the house that Jerry Jones built. 

The lowest average ticket price can be found in Cleveland. The cost of the total fan experience in Cleveland comes to about 38 percent of the region's median weekly income. That's the good news. The bad news, of course, is having to actually watch the Browns play football.

As for the Super Bowl teams, both the Broncos and Seahawks are below the league average of 46.5 percent of weekly income needed to attend a game. The Broncos' average ticket price is about $13 higher, and parking at a Seahawks game is $20 more, but the only truly important difference between them is the price of an adult beverage — a 16-ounce beer in Seattle will cost you $8, while the same-size beverage in Denver runs $6.75. 

Bottoms up!

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter