The National Football League’s oldest rivalry is producing record prices on the ticket-resale market for the two teams’ first postseason meeting in 70 years.
Seats for the Jan. 23 conference championship game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field in Chicago are being resold at an average price of $1,018, according to FanSnap.com, a Palo Alto, California-based Internet search engine that finds available seats on about 50 ticket-reselling websites.
The cost is more than double the $469 average price for the American Football Conference title game in Pittsburgh between the Steelers and New York Jets. Bears-Packers sales on EBay Inc.’s Stubhub are setting records for a conference championship. Face value ranges between $134 and $586 for each game.
“It’s kind of like the Super Bowl has come to Chicago,” Mark Tuchscherer, manager at Chicago-based ticket brokerage Ticket Chest Corp., said in a telephone interview. “It’s been nuts. We have a lot of people looking to go because of the matchup. I haven’t seen a game like this in a long time.”
The National Football Conference championship marks just the second time in a 182-game rivalry dating back to 1921 that Chicago and Green Bay will meet in the NFL playoffs.
The winner gets the NFC championship trophy, which is named after Bears founder George Halas. They’ll also get a chance to play in the Super Bowl, which has a trophy named after former Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The Bears and their neighbors about 200 miles north in Wisconsin on the western shore of Lake Michigan have won a total of 21 NFL championships -- the Packers 12, the Bears 9.
“It’s our closest rival,” Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. “They’re right up the street, so it’s a big deal. We have a lot of history with them. We don’t like them; they don’t like us.”
During the fourth quarter of last week’s 35-24 divisional playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago fans were chanting vulgarities about the Packers, who had beaten the Atlanta Falcons the day before.
“We don’t like each other,” Bears coach Lovie Smith said at a news conference. “You can have some dislike and not put it out in the media every day. Believe me, there is not a whole lot of love.”
The Packers beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 21-16 in the first round of the playoffs. Last week, quarterback Aaron Rogers threw three touchdown passes as coach Mike McCarthy’s Packers defeated the Falcons in Atlanta 48-21. Chicago had a first-round bye, and the Bears’ Jay Cutler then threw for two touchdowns and ran for a pair against the Seahawks.
Chicago and Green Bay met twice during the regular season, with each team winning once.
No two franchises in NFL history have met more than Chicago and Green Bay, with the Bears leading the series 92-83-6. The lone previous postseason meeting between the teams came on Dec. 14, 1941, when the Bears won 33-14 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field to advance to the NFL’s title game.
This time, the Packers are favored by 3 1/2 points, and at 8-5 have the shortest Las Vegas odds to win the Super Bowl among the four remaining teams.
This weekend’s game in Chicago is the top-grossing conference championship ever at StubHub, where tickets sold for an average of $823 at midweek. By the end of the week, it may be the fourth-best selling NFL game in company history, behind the last three Super Bowls, said StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer.
“Demand is at an all-time high for this caliber of an event and it’s one where we may not see the market settle,” Ferrer said. “Fans have been waiting 70 years for this, and the prices they have been willing to pay to be at this game really speaks volumes to the demand and excitement.”
StubHub’s ticket prices start at $400 and climb to $4,100 for 50-yard-line club seats -- on the Packers’ side of the field.
The Bears’ top-selling home game during the regular season was also against the Packers, with an average price of $294 a ticket at StubHub. The last time the Bears reached the NFC title game after the 2006 season, tickets against the New Orleans Saints sold for an average of $632.
More than 10,000 tickets to this weekend’s game are still available on the secondary market, according to FanSnap, so prices may come down as kickoff approaches.
The interest in the Bears-Packers game also has had an effect on another sports event in Chicago the same day. The Blackhawks host the National Hockey League-leading Philadelphia Flyers about 3½ hours before football starts and standing-room tickets are available for as little as $10.
“It’s pretty much killed every event we’ve had in town,” said Tuchscherer, of TicketChest.com. “We’ve lowered prices on everything except for the Bears this week.”