Attending an NFL game doesn’t come cheap, as every football fan is probably—and perhaps painfully—aware. With each team playing just 16 home games a season, yet facing salary costs of $100 million or more, franchises aim to get the highest return they can on every seat in their stadium, not to mention on every parking space and visit to a food stand.
Just how steep a price you’ll pay for a NFL experience depends a lot on where you’re seeing the game. Ticket prices across the league vary by more than 100%, according to data gathered by Team Marketing Report, a sports research site. In the league’s least expensive stadiums, EverBank Field, home to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Nissan Stadium in Nashville, where the Tennessee Titans play, three tickets, on average, will cost you around $200. By contrast, the average tab for three tickets to see the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field or the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium is close to $400.
Yet there are also huge disparities in what people earn in the cities that NFL teams call home. For example, the median household earnings in New Orleans and Tampa are less than $50,000 while in Washington D.C. they top $90,000. Where does all this leave fans when it comes to affording an NFL game? To find out, we gathered the average cost of three NFL tickets—plus parking, food, and beer—in every city and converted the median household income in the area into an hourly wage. Dividing those hourly earnings into the total tab yielded the number of work hours required for a family of three to earn enough to attend a local NFL game.
The average across the league was about a day-and-a-half of work, with median earnings of about $30 an hour and the average tab for tickets and extras of around $350. But the work required rose to two days, or close to it, in the least affordable cities, while fans in a few cities could pay their NFL tab through only a day or so of toil.
Unsurprisingly, the least affordable cities tended to have some of the highest costs, along with incomes that were below the national norm. However, high prices didn’t always coincide with unaffordability; some pricier stadiums serve affluent cities where fans can cover their NFL fix with relative ease. Alternatively, some teams located where incomes are below the norm were quite affordable, too, since their prices were in line with the modest pay of the city they served.