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Super Bowl ticket prices are rebounding

Football fans expecting to find bargain-priced Super Bowl tickets are out of luck.

According to ticket search engine SeatGeek, the average price for a ticket to the Feb. 1 NFL championship game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks now is $3,262, a 17 increase since Sunday night.

That earlier figure represented an 18 percent year-over-year drop, which surprised many observers and was attributed to fan "fatigue" over the Patriot's fifth Super Bowl appearance in 14 years. SeatGeek estimates the average price for 2014's game featuring the Seahawks and the Denver Broncos at $2,536.

"I definitely didn't foresee there being an increase in ticket prices," said SeatGeek spokesman Connor Gregoire in an interview. "There isn't a precedent for it in recent Super Bowls."

Other major ticketing services also show that prices have increased (given variations among these secondary market ticket sources, their calculated averages also vary somewhat).

StubHub, the largest ticket exchange operator, estimates that the average Super Bowl ticket is going for $3,033, a 20 percent gain over $2,527 last year.

TicketMaster's NFL Ticket Exchange shows average prices at $3,506, a 25 percent jump over 2014's game. Much of the sales are coming from fans in Washington State, eager to see if the Seahawks can become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champs since the Patriots did it in 2003 and 2004. In addition, given the NFL's growing in popularity outside the U.S., fans as far away as Australia and Norway have purchased Super Bowl tickets.

Prices for the NFL's big game can fluctuate widely each year based on several factors, including weather and the popularity of the teams involved. Worries about snow and frigid temperatures scared away some fans from last year's contest in New Jersey's Met Life Stadium. But fans who made it to the regular-season home of the New York Giants and New York Jets wound up enjoying a Super Bowl played in unseasonably warm weather that day.

Although some fans might gamble that they can get a better price as desperate sellers look to unload their tickets close to game day, there's no guarantee that strategy will work.

"This Super Bowl we are seeing really strong numbers, really high demand," said Allison Salcedo, a spokeswoman for StubHub. She encourages fans who are sure they want to attend the game and know where they want to sit to "buy early."

Jennifer Swanson, a TicketMaster spokeswoman, told CBS MoneyWatch that her company's exchange has sold out of Super Bowl tickets in the past and also encourages fans to buy their tickets as soon as possible.

SeatGeek's Gregoire, however, argues it might be worth playing the waiting game. "The later you wait, the better off you will do," he said.

The NFL is by far the most popular professional sport in the U.S. -- and the richest, generating some $6 billion in annual revenue. But it has struggled in recent years to attract fans to watch its games in person. Because each team plays only eight home games, demand for tickets far outstrips supply.

The average NFL ticket also costs $84.43, which makes for a costly outing, especially for families. Then with advances in TV technology, many fans are finding it tough to leave the comfort of their homes.

"The majority of (NFL team) revenues come from broadcasting," said Robert Baade, a sports economist at Lake Forrest College, in an interview. "Yes, they would like to fill their stadiums, but they would like the remainder of their fan base to tune into the game."

And you can tune into the Super Bowl for a whole let less than the asking price for a ticket.

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