Football fans are truly devoted to the sport. That’s probably why every NFL team is worth $4.14 billion on average. Some die-hard fans spend more than others, and some teams have a bigger and more intense fan base, but any NFL fan is likely to spend something every year to support their favorite team.
Let’s look at the many costs associated with being an NFL fan – from the cost of attending one of the 272 games, to the price of merchandising, to the costliest teams to be a fan of.
Cost to attend an NFL game
When you attend an NFL game, you’ll be greeted by a roaring stadium full of fellow fans celebrating, drinking cold beer, and eating delicious food. All of this comes at a price, however, and a high price.
The fans who spend the most on tickets alone are those of the Las Vegas Raiders with an average ticket price of more than $600. Analysis by PicksWise revealed that Raiders fans who attend home and away games spend a grand total of $3,450 per year support their team.
Some NFL fans pay less, however, thanks to cheaper tickets, concessions and merchandise. For example, following the Buffalo Bills for one season would cost $2,762, according to the same Pickswise study.
Ticket prices for NFL games
As with most expenses, the cost of NFL tickets increases every year. In 2012, the average ticket price for an NFL game was just $190. In 2021, however, the average ticket is much higher at $457.
Why have prices risen so much in just nine years?
There are a number of reasons, one being simply supply and demand. American football is an extremely popular sport and is a major part of the entertainment industry. NFL tickets will therefore continue to increase so that members of the industry can make more money. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic likely affected ticket prices. As fans were unable to attend games for over a year, demand for the sport increased.
To get an idea of current ticket prices, let’s look at both the most expensive and the cheapest NFL teams.
5 Most Expensive NFL Teams
5 cheapest NFL teams:
Buying an NFL jersey of your favorite player can give you a sense of camaraderie with your fellow fans and show your team pride. But you might be surprised to learn how expensive these jerseys can be. For example, official Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers merchandise retailers list adult jerseys starting at around $130, while Cincinnati Bengals jerseys start at around $100.
Additional costs: food, travel and parking
Purchasing tickets and team paraphernalia is far from the only cost associated with being an NFL fan. For starters, when you’re at the game, you’ll probably be buying food and drinks – it’s part of the experience! One of the most expensive concession stands at Commanders Stadium in Washington bills $14 for a beer. A hot dog can also be more expensive than expected, comes in at $8 at Raiders, Rams and Chargers stadiums.
And don’t forget the cost of accessing the game itself. If you’re lucky enough, the most you’ll spend on the trip is a tank of gas. However, some teams’ fanbases span a wide geographic area, such as the New England Patriots. Someone in northern Maine has to travel a much longer distance than someone in Massachusetts, because the game is out of state.
When you arrive at the stadium you will also pay for parking most of the time. Many teams have separate tickets that you will need to purchase to park in the stadium car park. And if you want to stay in a hotel near the stadium, be prepared to shell out a pretty penny.
How to Cut the Cost of Attending an NFL Game
With so many costs associated with just going to an NFL game, how can someone who doesn’t want to spend thousands of dollars keep the costs down? Well, there are several steps you can take.
Watch the NFL from home
If you’re looking for the ultimate way to save money on NFL games, watch from home instead. If you do it right, you could have quite the experience in your own living room or in your backyard. Hosting a tailgating party from your home saves you money on travel, beer, and food, and you won’t have to pay hundreds in tickets.
There are many options to watch the match via streaming or cable. Here are some of the most popular options:
- Peacock – You can watch Sunday Night Football with a Peacock Premium subscription. You will pay $4.99 per month for this service.
- NFL Red Zone – From the NFL Network itself, you can add RedZone to your wired network. The amount you pay will depend on your cable network.
- YouTube television – If you already have a YouTube TV account, which costs $64.99 per month, you’ll get access to the NFL Network.
- Amazon Prime – With Amazon Prime Video, you can watch your local Thursday night football matches. Amazon Prime costs $139 per year or $8.99 per month for Prime Video only.
If you attend in person
Use a credit card with good rewards or cash back to maximize your savings. The best credit cards offer cash back or points on purchases, so you can slip in knowing you’re getting a little something back. Some credit cards even reward food, ticket or travel purchases at a higher rate. Check out Bankrate’s list of the best credit cards for football fans.
- Buy your tickets at the last minute. In general, you are likely to get the best price if you buy a ticket about seven days before the game. Since the stadium is trying to sell as many tickets as possible, they are reducing the remaining ones a few days before the game. These won’t be the best seats in the stadium by any means, but you could potentially save hundreds.
- Attend a home game when an unpopular NFL team is in town. Some teams are more popular than others. The Patriots, Cowboys, Packers and Broncos are all household names. If these are your teams, stick to hometown games where the opponent is a less popular team, like the Jaguars or Bengals.
- Avoid spending money on stadium food. Stadium food is greatly increased. Eat before or after the match, somewhere a little further from the stadium.
- Avoid buying shirts or souvenirs in the stadium. The purchase of any team equipment must be made outside the stadium. Again, shirts will be branded simply because they can get fans to buy shirts there on game day. There is no difference between a stadium shirt and the one you buy from the team’s online store.
- Book your parking passes online in advance. If you want to find parking at the last minute, be prepared to park far away and pay extra. Booking in advance guarantees you a place where you want and will probably be a little cheaper.
The bottom line
NFL fans often spend thousands each year supporting their favorite NFL team on tickets, streaming services, jerseys, and travel to games. If you plan ahead, there are ways to get cheap NFL tickets and have a more affordable experience. But if you’re looking for the cheapest option, skip in-person gaming and opt for a streaming service. Or at the very least, be sure to buy your tickets at their cheapest price, just before the game.