Buying sports tickets is hard, as there is no exact science on when the best time to purchase them are. Sometimes the best time to buy them is the day of the game, whereas other times it can be before the date for the game is even set.
When I was trying to buy 49ers game tickets to the NFC Divisional Round game, I was debating whether to buy before the opponent was set, or if I should buy it after knowing. There were 3 potential outcomes of who the 49ers would play; either the Vikings, Cowboys, or Buccaneers, depending on the outcome of the Vikings-Giants game on Saturday. If the Vikings lost, the 49ers would play the winner of the Cowboys-Buccaneers game (which was on Monday); if the Vikings won though, the 49ers would automatically play the Vikings. My personal preference of who I wanted to see was 1) Buccaneers, 2) Cowboys, 3) Vikings (and I thought this was probably the most common opinion), so I assumed that if the Vikings won prices would go down and vice versa. I decided to buy tickets before the game just to be safe (I figured the odds of the Vikings game was about 50/50, and I was fine seeing them if they won still).
I was happy when the Vikings lost, as it meant the 49ers were guaranteed to play either the Cowboys or Bucs. Similar to what I predicted, prices went up about 10-15% after the game was over. For the Cowboys-Buccaneers game, I thought that if the Buccaneers won, prices would go up and vice versa. The Cowboys ended up winning, which I assumed would make tickets go down slightly, or at best stay the same. I was really surprised to see that tickets after the game went up about double the price as compared to before the game; either my initial prediction was wrong, meaning the Cowboys were more of a draw than Tom Brady, or the prices before the game were priced incorrectly (and that tickets would have gone up regardless of whether the Cowboys or Buccaneers won). I can’t imagine that ticket prices would have gone down for Tom Brady’s potential final game, so I think that ticket prices might have not been priced accordingly before the game. This is probably because Cowboys and Buccaneers fans were hesitant to buy tickets before the game in case their team lost (but the magnitude tickets went up after the game surprised me).
This shows that the sports ticket market is relatively inefficient, and that there can be huge advantages of buying tickets at the right time. It is something that I plan on monitoring for all future events to see whether there seems to be a similar trend for other high profile games, but also a useful lesson for the next time I want to go see an important game.