Best and Worst Things To Buy at an NFL Game

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Emilee Chinn/AP/Shutterstock (12644432x)San Francisco 49ers fans react before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cincinnati49ers Bengals Football, Cincinnati, United States - 12 Dec 2021.
Emilee Chinn/AP/Shutterstock / Emilee Chinn/AP/Shutterstock

If you’ve made it inside an NFL stadium on game day, odds are you’ve already parted with a substantial chunk of money.

Per the latest Bookies.com study, four NFL tickets cost $438.88 on average this season — and that’s for the cheapest tickets. Passage for four into Levi’s Stadium to watch the San Francisco 49ers from the cheap seats will run you $888.89, the highest in the league.

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Neither of those lofty totals includes lot parking, which ranges from used-to-seem-like-a-lot $15 (Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars) to a whopping $100 (Las Vegas Raiders).

So if you’re going, it makes sense to be judicious about your in-stadium spending. Here are a few suggested dos and don’ts.

Resist the Temptation: Beer

Beer and NFL football have a long, sudsy history together. But with 16 ounces costing $9.56 on average — and topping out at $14.67 at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field — you might want to consider enjoying your brewskis before you go in.

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For more fan-friendly stadium beer options, try Detroit’s Ford Field or Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. They offer 16-ounce brews for a relatively cheap $6.25, maybe not top-shelf, but still…beer.

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Buy It: Unique Stadium Food

Some NFL stadium food is arguably worth the splurge, particularly if it’s local fare or hard to find elsewhere.

We’re thinking about a Wisconsinite at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field (a sausage topped with jam and cheese curds on a pretzel bun). Or maybe a massive Texas Torta at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys (barbacoa, pork or salsa chicken on a bun with refried beans, queso fresco, guacamole and more), wings or beef on weck at the Buffalo Bills’ Highmark Stadium, or maybe a Stockyard Burger with pulled pork and ghost pepper sauce at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

Resist the Temptation: Food You Can Get Wherever

Your basic hot dog is a great example. Yes, if you are a fan of hot dogs they taste great at an NFL game. They also cost $8 a piece on average at SoFi Stadium (home of Los Angeles’ Rams and Chargers) and at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, where the Raiders play. The NFL average is $5.72.

Unless you’re watching a game at the aforementioned Mercedes-Benz Stadium (where $2 hot dogs are still a thing), it probably makes sense to get your fill at a pregame tailgate, or check stadium policy to see if you can tote a few into the stadium inside a clear plastic bag.

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Buy It, but Shop Around First: Authentic NFL Jerseys, Autographs and Game-Worn Memorabilia

In-stadium outlets aren’t known for their low prices, but there is a safety factor worth considering. Inauthentic jerseys, forged autographs and fake memorabilia have flooded the market in recent years. If you make your purchase in a stadium or another NFL-licensed shop, you can rest easier.

Per the latest guidance from the FBI’s National Press Office, “Without specifically endorsing any one site or retailer, consumers are encouraged to buy sports apparel at established retailers such as the NFLShop.com or authorized vendors inside stadiums, rather than street vendors, online marketplaces, flea markets, or pop-up shops.”

Before you buy that jersey at the stadium, it’s probably worth shopping at another NFL-licensed shop or two to look for better deals. Always look for the official ​logo and carefully examine the product itself for questionable stitching, misspellings, color variation and even sub-standard material.

The warnings go for other gear and memorabilia, too.

Again, from the FBI: “Historically speaking, in the lead up to any major sports event, law enforcement seize​s items such as fake jerseys, hats, rings, t-shirts, jackets, tickets, souvenirs and other sports-related memorabilia prepared to be marketed as legitimate, authentic items from vendors and pop-up shops. Consumers are advised to do their research and due diligence when purchasing from an online retailer, and remember the saying that ‘if a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.'”

Make Your Money Work for You

Resist the Temptation: Tom Brady New England Patriots Autographed 2000 Upper Deck SPX NM-MT+#130 #0174/1350 Beckett Fanatics Witnessed Authenticated 8.5/10 Rookie Card

As of this writing, it was available at the Pro Shop in Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots — for $29,999.99.

That’s actually a better deal than some reputable online outlets. But c’mon.

Buy It: Items You Need To Brave the Elements If You Aren’t Prepared

Temperatures for December and January games in Green Bay shouldn’t sneak up on you. If you showed up without enough layers, though, a Packers All-Weather Outdoor Blanket may be the best $59.99 you’ve ever spent. See also: Seattle Seahawks rain poncho ($4.99) at Lumen Field.

Final Thought: Which NFL Stadium Is Most Affordable?

Per the Bookies.com study, it’s State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona — the home of the Cardinals. A family of four can park, attend and consume four hot dogs, two sodas and two 16-ounce beers for just $228.05. That’s just 22% of the cost for the same experience at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, home of the 49ers.

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About the Author

David Herman traces his love for journalism and storytelling back to age 9, when he created his own “front pages” on binder paper to cover the top news and sports stories of the day. He wasn’t much of an athlete and was never the first kid picked for anything, until one of his grade-school teachers divided his class into teams for an essay-writing contest, and Herman was, for once, the first one of the board. It was one of several moments that pointed him toward a writing career. After graduating from Gonzaga University, he wrote for newspapers in Washington and Idaho before moving to the web with MSNBC.com, Olympics.com and MSN.com, eventually serving as managing editor for both the MSN homepage and Microsoft News. Now a content designer at Meta, he’s also the author of “Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of” – an homage to his first favorite baseball team. He lives in Seattle with his wife, three children and a chocolate lab named Charlie. Dave Herman (@jdavidherman) / Twitter
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