CBS, which broadcast the first Super Bowl rather reluctantly on Jan. 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, was forced to come up with creative ways for camera crews to try and show the action on the field while avoiding the gaping sections of empty seats in the stands.
Although reserved tickets were priced at $10, I bet you could have walked in for free 10 minutes after the kickoff. It’s also worth noting that a 30-second commercial for that game was priced at 42 grand.
Once the NFL owners, networks, cola, car, truck, pizza, chip companies and ad agencies realized the size of the cash cow they gave birth to, however, tickets tripled to $30 for the 1980 game. That got spiked to $125 for the 1990 tilt at the Super Dome in New Orleans, and by the time Super Bowl XXXIV rolled into the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in 2000, you needed $325 to get your butt into a seat. Which brings us to this year’s Super Bowl XLIX, where tickets will cost you $3,950 per.
I believe the NFL uses Roman numerals for the game to distract us from the fact the price of tickets and commercials has shot up so much and so fast that it’s hard to wrap your head around the numbers.
By 1980 the cost for 30 seconds of pimping your product hit the million dollar mark, and it will cost up to $5.5 million for a half minute of ad time during this year’s game.
It appears there’s no shortage of offensive and over the top advertisers frothing at the gills to shill their wares during what’s morphed into an extravaganza extraordinaire. It’s numbers like those that explain why, Donald Trump aside, the American dream isn’t exactly revered in the poorer portions of the planet.
Although I realize that as far as Madison Avenue is concerned it’s all about the brand, do they really believe there’s enough of a spike in Ford F-150 pickup sales in the weeks following the game to justify the wads of cash they spend on advertising.
Wouldn’t it be nice if NFL commish Roger Goodell, team owners and the corporations that ante up to keep the league gorging at the trough considered the number of classrooms in Kenya the cost of one commercial could create. How about putting the price of a couple of ads toward feeding starving kids, eradicating AIDS or any other noble global pursuit. It would certainly add some polish to their profile without putting a dent in their bottom line.
Even though the chance of this idea catching on is slim to invisible, be advised that I hereby copyright the concept of giving back outlined in the fine print above. I’m available to negotiate with the NFL at their convenience for the princely price of a the regal retirement me and the bride so richly deserve.
Think about, Roger, and have your lawyers get in touch.
Rick Stiebel is a Sooke resident and semi-retired journalist.