Even Eminem might cringe at how much it costs to witness the Lions make their Cinderella run for the Super Bowl.
Playoff tickets are fetching an average of $1,097 for the Lions home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Detroit, easily the most expensive Divisional playoff game on record and the second-most expensive non-Super Bowl playoff game, according to online marketplace TickPick.
That’s nearly double the previous record ($605) for a Divisional round playoff game set just last year when the San Francisco 49ers visited the Dallas Cowboys.
Even standing room-only seats are selling for almost $700, according to TickPick.
The Lions, long one of the worst performing franchises in pro sports, are having a moment right now. And the entire Detroit economy is cashing in on the team’s rare playoff success, not just the ticket vendors.
Bars, restaurants, casinos and hotels are all experiencing soaring demand as local fans and visitors alike flock to downtown Detroit following the team’s first playoff victory in 32 years.
Detroit native Eminem attended the Lions’ game in person last week. And he may have summed it up best when he narrated the opening to NBC’s broadcast of the Lions game last Sunday by saying: “This is the story of what a football team can mean to a city.”
Sunday’s playoff game alone is projected to boost the Detroit metro economy by $52 million, according to consulting firm Anderson Economic Group.
“A $50 million stimulus to the Detroit economy is a really big deal,” said Tyler Theile, director of public policy and economic analysis at AEG.
That stimulus projection factors in fan spending inside the stadium as well as outside at hotels, restaurants, stores and bars.
“This has been monumental for the city,” said Remy Lutfy, a Detroit resident and co-owner of downtown steakhouse Vertical Detroit.
Normally closed on Sundays in January, Vertical Detroit was jam-packed last Sunday to host fans before the Lions game.
“The Lions have almost never been a winning team so we’re happy to show off the city,” Lutfy said.
Last weekend’s victory against the Los Angeles Rams also set the record for the most expensive Wild Card game tickets on record, according to TickPick, and the “get-in” price for a physical seat at this Sunday’s Lions game is $675 more than the combined cost to attend every other Divisional Round playoff game this weekend.
Matt Ferrel, head of growth at TickPick, said ticket inventory for the Lions game is extremely low as fans who may have waited decades for this moment are determined to go in person.
Ferrel, a Detroit native, compared the situation with Taylor Swift fans unwilling to give up their concert seats this past summer no matter the price in the secondary market.
“We’re seeing that in a similar way with Detroit,” Ferrel said. “If you’re a Detroit fan and you have tickets, it doesn’t matter what the price climbs to, you’re keeping those tickets.”
The team has long-been owned by descendants of Henry Ford, the early auto titan who helped map Detroit as “Motor City.” The current principal owner and chairwoman of the Lions is Shelia Ford Hamp, who descends from both the Ford and Firestone families.
This weekend’s Lions playoff game, airing on NBC, will once again put Detroit in the national spotlight.
The $52 million economic stimulus estimate from AEG doesn’t factor in the halo effect that Detroit, a city trying to repair its image, should enjoy from this moment on the national stage.
“Detroit has always been an amazing place to work and play, but it has a varied reputation. This kind of national spotlight is an opportunity to see the real Detroit,” Theile said, pointing to the city’s urban gardens downtown, lively apartments and Instagram-worthy restaurants. “Getting that featured on national TV is a huge benefit.”
The Motor City was crushed by the Great Recession and the collapse of the US auto industry. Foreclosures and unemployment spiked, and the city’s population plunged.
Fittingly, the 2008 Lions became the first 0-16 team in NFL history.
Five years later, the city filed for the largest bankruptcy in American history.
Today, Detroit still faces its fair share of challenges, but the city, helped by an influx of private investment, has bounced back faster than many thought possible.
A boost to tourism from an unlikely spot the Detroit Lions should help support that comeback.
“We are trying to rebuild the city,” said Lutfy, the steakhouse co-owner. “We’ve been through a lot: the auto industry, the bankruptcy and then Covid. But it makes you so proud to see people coming back to the city.”