Yo Han Lee

First Advisor

Morse, Alan L.

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Date Created



This study explores how coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affected secondary market ticket prices, the number of attendees, and fans’ willingness to pay in the National Football League (NFL). The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the sport industry, affecting everything from the scheduling and delivery of games to the financial health of teams, leagues, and related businesses. One of the most visible impacts of the pandemic has been the suspension, delay, and cancellation of many sporting events, including entire seasons of some professional sport leagues. Sporting events require large gatherings of people in close proximity, which is precisely the opposite of what is needed to control the spread of the virus. The pandemic has also led to the closure of sports venues, training facilities, and other sports-related businesses, leading to significant financial losses. In addition to the postponement or cancellation of events, the pandemic has also affected how sporting events were disclosed to fans. Many events were held without fans in attendance or with limited-capacity crowds. Therefore, amid disease threats, examining the secondary ticket market, attendance demand, and willingness to pay is important: fan demand and willingness to pay concerning updated marketing and ticket pricing policies can influence revenue generation in sport. Two types of data observations were collected for this study: primary and secondary. Specifically, secondary market ticket prices and the number of attendees for each game were collected during NFL 2022 season to investigate the impact of COVID-19 health risks on ticket prices and attendance demand. Also, the survey was designed to understand NFL fans’ willingness to pay for tickets amid the pandemic. A multilevel regression model analysis was adopted due to the nested structure of the data, involving secondary data such as ticket prices and the number of attendees. Also, structural equation modeling analysis was utilized to investigate NFL fans’ willingness to pay. The results show that when secondary market sellers’ ticket prices significantly reflected COVID-19 deaths, NFL fans considered COVID-19 cases whether they attended a game or not. Also, team performance predictors are a significant consideration for price and attendance demand determinations. Although the risk attitude of COVID-19 directly explained fans’ willingness to pay (WTP) for additional safety in the stadium, willingness to pay for a ticket does not have a significant relationship with willingness to pay for higher safety measures. However, WTP was significantly related to past spending on NFL game tickets. Overall, this study found that COVID-19 health risks (i.e., COVID-19 cases and deaths) explain ticket prices in the secondary market and the number of attendees in the NFL. Also, the results uncovered fans’ willingness to pay for higher safety services amid the pandemic that is related to the COVID-19 surcharge.


226 pages

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