The NFL pre-season kicked off this weekend and fantasy drafts are in full swing. Even the most casual fan likely knows that the Ravens will be looking to repeat as champs. If they do, they’ll be eighth team to do so, and the first team since the 2004 Patriots. As for the 49ers, only two teams—the 1971 Dallas Cowboys and 1972 Dolphins—have won the year after losing. By that measure, history says that the Ravens have the better shot. The ticket market, however, tells another story. As measured by the change in ticket prices between last year and this year, 49ers fans are feeling much more confident than Ravens fans about prospects for the 2013-14 season.
At an increase of 67.29%, 49ers tickets have the highest year-over-year price increase–13% ahead divisional rival Seahawks tickets. In 2011, first-year Coach Jim Harbaugh took the 49ers to the NFC championship. Last year, they came within seven yards of winning their first Super Bowl since 1994. In 2013-14, there is only one more step to take, and fans clearly expect that the final season at Candlestick will be a memorable one. In addition to their dual-threat quarterback Colin Kaepernick, The 49ers bring back the majority of their NFC championship team. They’ve also added Anquan Boldin at wide receiver and elite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Key games at home include Andrew Luck’s return to face his former coach in the opener, as well two tough, end-of-season games against the Seahawks and the Falcons. The Falcons game, which is a rematch of last years NFC championship, has an average price of $358 and is the most expensive game of the season at Candlestick.
As for the Ravens, it’s a very different story. Ravens tickets have had the biggest year-over-year decline of any team, falling 34.29% from an average of $282 last year. For the first time in Ravens history, Ray Lewis will not be on the roster. In addition to the loss of Lewis, the team has parted ways with eight starters from last year, including Ed Reed. No other defending Super Bowl champion had ever lost more than five. To make matters worse, the Ravens have the 5th toughest schedule in the NFL and almost half of their games are against 2012 playoff teams. The most expensive game at M&T Bank Stadium is October 13th versus the Packers and the least expensive is December 8th versus the Vikings. The good news for Ravens fans is that most games have get-in prices under $125, which is not something that happened often during the Ray Lewis era.
While the possibility of a Super Bowl rematch is remote, that has not diminished the pre-season prices for tickets to XLVIII. Hosted at MetLife Stadium in New York, Superbowl tickets are priced at an all-time high. While part of that may have to do with who is favored to make the game, the most significant driver of the elevated price is location. New York is the financial hub of the world, and there will be more corporate dollars spent on the 2014 game than ever before. With tickets currently averaging close to $4,000, and an average January temperature in New York of 32 degrees, Ravens fans may have picked a good year to take off. As for 49ers fans, the all-in cost to the game will likely run close to $10,000 between game tickets, hotel and travel. If the 49ers can mark their final year in Candlestick by hoisting a 6th Lombardi trophy, it would be money well spent for those who can afford it.