Kentucky Derby Ticket Prices Soar

Finish-line seats are going for as much as $1,250 on the secondary market

By Emily Feldman
|  Friday, May 4, 2012  |  Updated 2:01 AM CDT
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Kentucky Derby Ticket Prices Soar

AP

It's over in an instant, but roughly 160,000 spectators are throwing down cash for admission to "the greatest two minutes in sports."

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Though the race lasts less than three minutes and fickle air masses threaten to dump rain on the event, seats at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby are fetching as much, and in some cases much more, than seats on a cross-country flight.

With an average price of $446 on secondary markets—the world of StubHub and eBay, where purchased tickets are resold—admission to the Derby is more expensive than admission to nearly any other event in the country this month, according to data from SeatGeek, a ticketing aggregator and research site.

Of course, everything is relative. According to SeatGeek data, here's how the price of admission to "the greatest two minutes in sports" compares to that of other major events:

It's got nothing on the Super Bowl: The average secondary market ticket price for Super Bowl XLVI was $2,991—more than double the price of prime Derby seats.

NCAA tickets cost less: On the other hand, that average Derby ticket price ($446) is roughly $35 less than the price of an all-season ticket to the NCAA Final Four games between Kentucky and Louisville. 

Only four May events cost more: The Derby ranks fourth in price among events for the month of May. The only events that promise to hit the pocketbook even harder are the Mayweather-Cotto boxing match Friday (average price $816) and two One Direction concerts at New York's Beacon Theatre May 26 (average prices $573 and $533).

There's a steep premium for visual access: Admission to the stadium doesn't guarantee a view of the action. In fact, the only ticketholders who will be able to watch the most critical moment of the mile-and-a-quarter race, are those seated just past the finish line. The price tag on the guaranteed line of vision is $1,250. Of course, the farther from the finish, the cheaper the seats. Spectators at the 3/16 pole, which is at the beginning of the homestretch, can expect to pay $352 for their seats and to do a lot of neck-craning to find out how their bets turned out.

There's no need to break the bank: If visual accessibility is not a priority, General Admission tickets are going for $56. This means ticketholders will have neither a seat nor visual access to the action. On the bright side, this option leaves extra cash for mint juleps and reckless betting.

Post time is 6:24 p.m ET, and NBC will provide full coverage of the 138th Kentucky Derby from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET.

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