On Monday, he put them up for sale.
Holst, a Bears fan from Marengo, said he wrestled with the decision. But the potential of a big payday proved too tempting and he posted his tickets on Craigslist for $850 each.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that this was going to happen, I would have said you were crazy if I didn’t go,” Holst said. “But times being the way they are, if I can pick up a little extra money, I’d sacrifice going to the game.”
If he can’t find a buyer ready to meet his price, Holst said he might keep his tickets. But he probably won’t have much of a problem unloading them.
Several brokers said tickets for Sunday’s NFC championship game at Soldier Field are by far the most in demand in Chicago sports history, creating a frenetic online market as Bears fans try to decide how much it’s worth to see the big game live.
On Monday, $134 seats in the upper reaches of Soldier Field were selling for about $500 each, according to brokers and several ticket resale Web sites. Seats in the stadium’s lower levels are going for up to $2,000, said Melissa Janes, who works for a Chicago-area ticket broker.
“This is what the market is, so if you want to go, you’re going to have to take out a small loan or use your mortgage payment,” said Janes, who said she hasn’t seen such high demand for a Chicago sporting event since Michael Jordan was leading the Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s.
While there are enough ticket holders looking to cash in to provide a bull market for brokers, most Bears fans wouldn’t think of giving up a chance to witness the Bears and Packers battle for a spot in the Super Bowl.
“We’ll be there,” said Bob Wood, 67, of Rockton, Ill., who with his son Corey, 39, hasn’t missed a Bears home game in 26 years.
Wood, who figures he has seen 280 games home and away, said he didn’t for a second think of selling his tickets in the north end zone. For the Wood men, Bears games are a father-and-son tradition that starts with tailgating and concludes with a trip to a sports bar.
“It’s a day to get away together,” Wood said. “I think it’s a whole different scenario to just experience it. There’s nothing like being there, I think.”
Twenty-year season ticket holders Scott and Andrea Tafelski, of South Bend, Ind., are likewise unswayed by the lure of big bucks.
“Definitely not for the Bears versus Green Bay in the NFC championship,” said Andrea Tafelski, 44. “No way, not for this game.”
The most expensive ticket sold by StubHub as of Monday afternoon was a $2,942 seat in Soldier Field’s United Club, said company spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer. StubHub figures Sunday’s game will be the hottest NFL conference championship ticket in the company’s 10-year history, Ferrer said.
The highest asking price on StubHub was $9,500, but Ferrer expects prices on the secondary market to gradually drop as the week goes on, with the final average ticket price on StubHub probably somewhere between $700 and $800.
Some of the cheapest tickets available online — at least on Monday — were through the NFL Ticket Exchange, where tickets still could be had for less than $500.
While many online ticket brokers are well-established, secondary ticket buyers should always be wary, officials warned.
“Football fans need to be careful if they buy tickets online,” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. “Don’t get so caught up in the excitement of the playoffs that you wind up the victim of a con artist cheating you out of a lot of money.”