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Super Bowl means super prices for fans going to Minneapolis

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Transportation and lodging prices are predictably through the roof

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The Minnesota Vikings miracle win over the New Orleans Saints in the Division Round of the playoffs gave fans of the team hope that they could not only win their first Super Bowl in franchise history, but become the first team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium.

The Philadelphia Eagles dashed those hopes in brutal fashion a week later, but residents and business owners in Minneapolis can still come out a winner on game day because fans of the Eagles and Patriots will flood the city with their wallets open, and local vendors, airlines, and hotels will charge those fans a pretty penny for their stay.

Prices for flights, lodging, and local transportation inevitably skyrocket in the week before the big game in the city hosting the Super Bowl, and Minneapolis, which by this point is pretty much booked in full, is no different.

“People are reporting there are some [hotel] rooms [still available] further out in the suburbs,” said Kristen Montag of Meet Minneapolis, the city’s convention and visitors association. “They’re sparse. They’re quite a bit more expensive than they might normally be.”

There are roughly 42,000 hotel rooms in the greater Minneapolis area, according to Montag. The NFL reserved 19,000 of them for itself, which includes NFL staff, the teams, credentialed media, sponsors, and others. That cuts the supply of rooms available in half at a time when demand is higher than usual.

The result is predictable. While most rooms have been booked well in advance, there were pockets of rooms still available as of Jan. 19, but they were well outside of Minneapolis and were going for about $500 per night. There was one room still available in downtown Minneapolis, and it was going for $1,500 per night.

For last-minute travelers desperate for a place to stay, Airbnb is an option, but as the AirbnbWATCH points out, hosts are charging astronomical premiums in hopes of cashing in on the one-time event. (It should be noted that AirbnbWATCH has been linked to the hotel industry in the past).

A private room in a house on Airbnb is going for $1,500 the night of the Super Bowl, but is just $76 two days later. The premiums for most rooms are well into the thousands. The highest noted by AirbnbWATCH is a room going for $5,000 the night of the Super Bowl but just $75 two days later.

Minneapolis Airbnbs during the Super Bowl

Minneapolis Airbnbs Feb. 4-5 Rate Feb. 6 Rate $ Rate Increase Percent Increase
Minneapolis Airbnbs Feb. 4-5 Rate Feb. 6 Rate $ Rate Increase Percent Increase
3-bedroom house $3,000 $59 $2,941 4985%
2-bedroom house $2,000 $69 $1,931 2799%
3-bedroom house $1,500 $59 $1,441 2442%
2-bedroom townhouse $3,600 $95 $3,505 3669%
2-bedroom apartment $5,000 $75 $4,925 6567%
1-bedroom apartment $1,530 $65 $3,465 5331%
Private apartment room $1,500 $76 $1,424 1873%
Semi-private room $1,500 $65 $1,435 2207%
Private room in house $3,030 $55 $2,975 5409%
7-bedroom house $10,000 $500 $9,500 1900%

Crazy Airbnb prices have been getting a good laugh in the media leading up to the Super Bowl for a few years now, but even funnier, those opportunistic listings almost always go unbooked.

Beyond Pricing, a tech company that uses data to help Airbnb hosts price their listings, says it usually sees a surge of listings and prices in the Super Bowl host city leading up to the big game. In December, their data show a daily occupancy rate between 63 and 83 percent on any given day. Around the Super Bowl, that range is 34 to 51 percent because of a supply surge of around 1,000 listings.

“In short, locals try to arbitrage the event causing a massive oversupply for the event and almost all of them go completely unbooked,” said Kameron Bain of Beyond Pricing.

A similar dynamic is playing out with flights to Minneapolis before the Super Bowl. Hopper is an app that collects the search results from travel sites like Expedia to help its users find the cheapest flights. Its data shows a substantial premium in flight prices to the Super Bowl host city for the dates around the big game.

Flights to Minneapolis during the Super Bowl are currently going for somewhere between $300 and $350 on a weighted average across all originations, which is about a $100 more than the same time last year. Flight prices always spike just before the departure date. Last year over the same time period, flights reached an average of about $350 a few days before the departure data. Hopper expects that number to be as high as $600 this year.

And the variations can even be seen while games are still being played. In Minnesota’s win over New Orleans, searches for flights to Minneapolis from New Orleans swung dramatically as the back-and-forth game played out. When the Saints took the lead with less than a minute remaining, search volume jumped. After the Vikings miracle play won the game, it cratered.

The search volume is an indicator of demand for those flights, whose prices can adjust in real-time. Patrick Surry, Hopper’s chief data scientist, says that the Super Bowl causes the biggest spike in flight prices relative to other major sports events.

“We’ve seen more impact for the Super Bowl than these other events because I think there’s so much activity going on outside of the game itself that the number of people who travel for it tends to be bigger for it than these other events,” Surry said.

Minneapolis is implementing a massive rerouting of its public transportation system to accommodate Super Bowl visitors, and the cheapest option for local transportation is likely the Super Bowl unlimited bus and train ride pass, which costs $40 and is good until Feb. 5.

Among the changes on game day, the Green and Blue lines of the light-rail train will serve ticketed fans who will pass through a security check point at the Mall of America and Stadium Village, then board the light-rail into the stadium. Regular riders will be offered bus service along the same route, one of the many potential headaches for residents of a Super Bowl city.

Uber plans on having designated stations to help fans get to and from the game, although the city is encouraging use of public transportation to ease congestion. An Uber spokesperson said no special pricing plan will take effect, but one can assume surge pricing will make it costly.