© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

$21,300 for the Super Bowl: Here's how much Kansas City Chiefs fans spent to get to Las Vegas

Photo looking from above inside a large room where light from a large window is falling on a display of life-sized letters that spell "CHIEFS." People are standing behind the letters while a person takes their photo.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Visitors to Union Station on Feb. 2 pose with one of the displays in the Grand Ballroom celebrating the Chiefs AFC championship and their upcoming Super Bowl matchup.

With an average ticket price of over $9,000, some Chiefs fans are splurging on once-in-a-lifetime seats to Super Bowl 58, while others are finding alternative ways to celebrate in Las Vegas. We spoke to people from across the country about their plans and what it cost them.

How much would you pay to see the making of a dynasty?

Tickets to Super Bowl 58, where the Chiefs will once again face off against the San Francisco 49ers, are the most expensive in history. Fans are shelling out between $7,000 and $77,000 for the game at Allegiant Stadium, with the hopes of watching Kansas City secure their third championship victory in five years.

It’s not only the tickets that will cost you. Airfare and hotel rates are running especially high, as nearly half a million people are heading to Las Vegas to watch the game live or take part in the festivities. In fact, United Airlines and American Airlines both created special Chiefs- and Taylor Swift-themed flights from Kansas City to Vegas for the occasion.

The returning champions, thanks in part to Swift’s relationship with tight end Travis Kelce, may be one of the most well-known sports teams in the world right now. But they still aren’t favored to win this time around.

Kelce’s relationship with Swift could help the team’s odds. According to Betway, the Chiefs have a winning percentage of 75% when Swift is at the game — compared to about 66% when she’s not there. Even though Swift will be performing her Tokyo leg of the Eras Tour the night before the game, the Embassy of Japan guaranteed she can make it to Vegas on time.

With such international hype around the game — you can find Super Bowl watch parties in San Francisco, London and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, among many other places — it got us curious about what loyal fans are willing to spend to support the Chiefs.

Welcome to the Super Bowl 58 Money Diaries, where five people attending the game or celebrating in Las Vegas revealed exactly how much they spent.

Ashishh Desai

Four people in red and yellow winter clothing take a selfie inside of a stadium
Ashishh Desai
(L-R): Ashissh Desai, VanTrang Desai, Melissa Patro and Ashok Patro at the Chiefs-Bills game on December 10, 2023. Desai frequently attends Chiefs games, but makes it a point to attend the Chiefs-Raiders game every year.

Where do you live? Overland Park, Kansas
What do you do for work? Formerly vice president of sales at a tech company, now on a temporary break
How old are you? 42
How long have you been a Chiefs fan? 20 years
Favorite player? Isiah Pacheco
Favorite game memory? 13 Seconds
Favorite tailgating traditions? Renting a party bus for every Chiefs-Raiders game and tailgating with neighbors
Favorite Super Bowl snack: Beer
Super Bowl total: $13,650
Ticket cost: $13,000 with fees
Misc. cost: N/A
Lodging and transportation: $650 out of pocket but used airline and hotel points for the remaining portion; estimates it normally would be around a “couple thousand”
Number of Chiefs games before the Super Bowl: 10
Craziest expense: The tickets
Any rituals? Shots with friends every time the Chiefs make a touchdown during the AFC Championship

Desai’s decision to splurge on tickets to the Super Bowl was a momentous one. He purchased the tickets on his 42nd birthday, one day after he stopped working his current job for some decompression time.

His decision was part luck, part timing, and a bit of impatience to check off those lingering bucket list items. Although the ticket was a present to himself, it’s not one he takes lightly nor plans to make a habit.

“I know not everyone has that opportunity but it’s not cheap for sure,” Desai said. “Everyone says it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and while I know the Chiefs are great and we may have these opportunities more often, you never know.”

Desai says he’s driven the same car and lived in the same house for years, but experiences are one category he gives a deeper value. Desai says Chiefs games and tailgates have brought him countless fond memories — including taking his niece and nephew to their first NFL game.

“I think in one way we should feel honored to have an NFL team, not every city has that,” Desai said. “Before the Chiefs were exceptional, I’d still try to go because it’s such a fun experience and having an NFL team is a privilege. It’s nice to have and so good to take advantage of it.”

Kathleen Kunkler

A group of women pose in front of a football field
Kathleen Kunkler
Kathleen Kunkler (wearing a KC hat and glasses), took a group of 10 friends to last year's Super Bowl in honor of her mother, Jo Kay, a Chiefs fan who died shortly before the championship game. They won, and Kunkler believes her mom watched the game with them.

Where do you live? Phoenix, Arizona
What do you do for work? Retired
How old are you? 63
How long have you been a Chiefs fan? 63 years
Favorite player? Chris Jones and Isiah Pacheco
Favorite game memory? Watching the AFC Championship game last year vs. the Bengals and going to the 2023 Super Bowl in honor of her late mother.
Favorite tailgating traditions? Starting every tailgate with a Bloody Mary
Favorite Super Bowl snack: Nachos
Super Bowl total: $1,600
Ticket cost: $1,500 split between friends for a VIP Sportsbook experience in Vegas
Misc. cost: Dinner at Nobu
Lodging and transportation: Free, thanks to hotel and flight points
Number of Chiefs games before the Super Bowl: 50+
Craziest expense: $100 on Chiefs overalls she wouldn’t have otherwise bought
Any rituals? Wearing red and gold beads she wore to the Super Bowl last year

Kunkler grew up in Kansas City and has been a lifelong Chiefs fan, in large part due to her mother, JoKay. The pair would often watch the games together, and Kunkler remembers seeing the Chiefs win shortly before her mother, JoKay, died in October 2022.

As the Chiefs made it through the playoffs and headed to the 2023 Super Bowl, Kunkler wanted to find a special way to honor her mom’s life.

“I decided after the Chiefs won that JoKay is going take us all to the Super Bowl,” Kunkler siad. “I used some of the funds that she left me and bought tickets. And that is why they won, I am sure of it. So we all went to the game — it was so amazing, so magical … We were there and we know she was there with us.”

After last year’s experience, Kunkler and five of her friends decided they couldn’t replicate the 2023 game — and didn’t want to spend the money on the higher ticket costs.

With the money they saved, Kunkler and her friends decided to get dinner reservations at the upscale Japanese restaurant Nobu and play at the casinos. Of course, Kunkler will place some bets on the Chiefs as well.

Bloody Marys are her favorite tailgate item — a tradition Kunkler has maintained ever since she forgot to bring the vodka 30 years ago — and although they can’t tailgate at the hotel’s sportsbook, the friend group does plan to start the day boozy.

“There’s nothing like tailgating at Arrowhead. It can be three degrees and it can be 80 degrees and everybody is always out there and so friendly – it's really like nothing else you see elsewhere,” Kunkler said. “We'll do our best to replicate the tailgates and the pregames that we've had before. Good food and good drink, and more importantly, good people.”

George Medina

Four people lean against each other and pose in front of a gold backdrop with the NFL logo
George Medina
George Medina has gone to the Super Bowl with his family in 2020 and 2023. He doesn't have tickets to this year's game yet, but believes they'll be able to score some last-minute deals in Las Vegas.

Where do you live? Kansas City, Missouri
What do you do for work? Real estate agent
How old are you? 68
How long have you been a Chiefs fan? 68 years
Favorite player? Travis Kelce
Favorite game memory? 13 Seconds
Favorite tailgating traditions? Tailgating with friends right outside the stadium every game
Favorite Super Bowl snack: Does not eat or drink during the game
Super Bowl total: Estimated $6,175 per person
Ticket cost: Budgeting to find four for around $5,000 per ticket
Misc. cost: N/A
Lodging and transportation: $800 per person offset by airline points; $1,500 lodging for four people
Number of Chiefs games before the Super Bowl: 100+, including 2020 and 2023 Super Bowls
Craziest expense: Tickets
Any rituals? Wears a lucky fedora and look-alike Super Bowl ring for every Super Bowl game he attends

Despite not having tickets yet, George Medina and his daughters have already booked their hotel and round-trip flights to Las Vegas, with the hopes of getting to see his third Super Bowl in person.

Medina has gone to over 100 Chiefs games and does not plan on stopping anytime soon; he’s been a season ticket holder since Patrick Mahomes started playing with the Chiefs.

When he first witnessed the original 49ers-Chiefs faceoff in 2020, Medina thought visiting the Super Bowl would be a rare opportunity. But when he and his family went to see the Chiefs sneak another win last year, Medina had a feeling his and his family’s attendance just might have helped push the team to victory.

This Super Bowl, he’s not going to take any chances.

“I didn't know if we'd be going back as often as we did,” Medina said. “I feel like we're a good luck charm. A lot of people are superstitious, but we feel like we gotta keep going so we can hopefully bring home a win.”

Medina hopes to buy tickets through either an online seller or friends-of-friends — he says being a lifelong Kansas Citian is helpful for making connections. However, Medina maintains the Chiefs experience goes beyond scoring a ticket.

“Not everyone gets to go to the Super Bowl,” Medina said. “It's something that I think if someone can do it, they should at least do it once. The atmosphere, the fun, the events they have; [it’s] the total package. It's worth going anyway, even if you weren't even going into the game.”

Kasey Jackson

A woman and man stand with two children in front of a giant KC sign
Kasey Jackson
Kasey and Tim Jackson love the Chiefs, but haven't been able to make it to many games. Their 48-hour whirlwind trip to the Super Bowl will be their first solo trip in more than five years.

Where do you live? Leawood, Kansas
What do you do for work? Founder of Flutterhabit, an eyelash brand she and her husband recently sold
How old are you? 33
How long have you been a Chiefs fan? 15 years
Favorite player? Travis Kelce
Favorite game memory? Capturing a video of Patrick Mahomes’ first-ever touchdown for the Chiefs during a preseason game
Favorite tailgating traditions? Too busy to tailgate!
Favorite Super Bowl snack: Charcuterie
Super Bowl total: $21,300
Ticket cost: $16,000 for two people
Misc. cost: Childcare for the 48 hours they’re away
Lodging and transportation: $1,500 for airfare; $3,800 for two nights in a hotel
Number of Chiefs games before the Super Bowl: Four
Craziest expense: The tickets
Any rituals? Commentating the game through her social media and wearing her Chiefs sweatshirt

Jackson and her husband, Tim, moved from Louisiana to Kansas City in 2009 and immediately fell in love with the Chiefs.

Jackson even captured Patrick Mahomes’ first-ever touchdown, when he was still the backup quarterback, on video during a preseason game. She’s hoping she’ll get to record many more Chiefs touchdowns on Sunday.

Jackson’s favorite player is Travis Kelce, and when he started dating Taylor Swift, her two fandoms intersected. Jackson went to the Tampa, Florida, stop of the Eras Tour last spring with her friends and said she became a “hardcore Swiftie.” That summer, she convinced her husband to go to the Kansas City concert with her.

“When we were trying to decide whether or not we wanted to go to the Super Bowl, I was like, ‘Well, I got to go to the Taylor Swift concert, so now you get to go to the Super Bowl,’” Jackson said.

Being parents to three kids, two of whom have special needs, has kept the Jacksons busy. They haven’t been able to tailgate a Chiefs game or take a trip just the two of them in about five years.

But the couple’s 15th anniversary is coming up next year, so they’re using the Super Bowl to celebrate a little bit early — with a whirlwind 48-hour trip to Las Vegas.

“We're excited because this is the opportunity for us to have that bang for our buck in one weekend, that we can go to something that we're both so excited about,” Jackson said. “We don't know if the Chiefs are going to make it back to the Super Bowl. This is an opportunity that we don't know if we'll ever have again. So why not now?”

Kim Billesbach

Two women in red and yellow clothing stand in front of a football field. There is red and yellow confetti falling around them.
Kim Billesbach
Kim Billesbach passed on her love of football to her daughter, Hannah. The pair went to the AFC Championship last year. This year, Billesbach got the opportunity to buy Super Bowl tickets this year at face-value.

Where do you live? Paola, Kansas
What do you do for work? Project manager
How old are you? 58
How long have you been a Chiefs fan? 34 years
Favorite player? Tony Gonzalez, Travis Kelce and Derrick Thomas
Favorite game memory? Getting on the jumbotron holding giant letters that spelled “DANTE” when Dante Hall played for the Chiefs
Favorite tailgating traditions? Seeing friends before every game
Favorite Super Bowl snack: Pulled pork or burgers
Super Bowl total: $7,400
Ticket cost: $6,500 for two
Misc. cost: Ubers around town
Lodging and transportation: $900 for a hotel; airfare was free thanks to airline points
Number of Chiefs games before the Super Bowl: 200+
Craziest expense: The tickets
Any rituals? Wearing her Derrick Thomas jersey for every playoff game

Kim Billesbach has been a Chiefs season ticket holder since 1990. She says she’s been going to games ever since they were so bad that “you couldn't give tickets away.”

An hour after the Chiefs won the AFC Championship against the Baltimore Ravens, Billesbach got an email from the team saying she won a season ticket holder lottery to buy Super Bowl tickets at face value.

The price was still more than $3,000 a piece, but cheaper than most tickets are going for now. So she jumped at the chance for her and her husband to attend their first-ever Super Bowl.

“I couldn't believe it,” Billesbach said. “I actually had my son look at it and I'm like, ‘Am I reading this right? Are they telling me I really have Super Bowl tickets?’ And so I logged into my account and sure enough there was an invoice in there. My tickets are in the end zone where ‘Chiefs’ is painted.”

Billesbach may not meet any players at Sunday’s big game, but she’s already got that covered. When the Chiefs held their training camp at The University of Wisconsin – River Falls from 1991-2009, Billesbach and her friends would hang out at a now-closed bar called Bo’s ‘N Mine, where the players frequented. There they met Tony Gonzalez, Vaughn Booker, Louie Aguiar and Kevin Ross.

At the Super Bowl, Billesbach plans to wear her now-vintage Derrick Thomas jersey, which boasts the number 58. She thinks it’ll bring some extra good luck to the team.

“My very first jersey was a Derrick Thomas jersey,” Billesbach said. “Given that this is the 58th Super Bowl, I feel it's only appropriate to wear that jersey. I'm wearing a jersey that's about 30 years old — I'm very superstitious. We're going to win this one for Derrick Thomas.”

This story used interviews sourced through KCUR's texting services. If you have questions about texting with KCUR, you can find more information here.

When news breaks, it can be easy to rely on officials and people in power to get information fast. As KCUR’s general assignment and breaking news reporter, I want to bring you the human faces of the day’s biggest stories. Whether it’s a local shop owner or a worker on the picket line, I want to give you the stories of the real people who are driving change in the Kansas City area. Email me at savannahhawley@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @savannahhawley.
Isabella is the spring 2024 intern for KCUR News. An Iowa native, she recently graduated from the University of Georgia, where she studied anthropology and environmental design and was part of the UGA Asian American Journalists Association. Email her at luui@kcur.org