Super Bowl 2014Here’s a news flash for football fans: If you’re thinking about attending Super Bowl 2014, the outlook for finding a placy to stay is less than super. 

Oh, if you’re determined to cheer on your favorite team at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, you want to know where to stay for Super Bowl 2014. There are rooms to be had. But you have to be willing to open your wallet – wide – or get creative with your room choice for the dates around Super Bowl game day, February 2.

The reason for the rooming draught is pretty obvious – though the stadium itself is a great place for sports enthusiasts (and concertgoers, too – in fact, the MetLife was the site of my most recent Springsteen concert!), East Rutherford isn’t exactly a hot bed for tourists. But with the big game in town, the hotel rooms around the stadium are either already booked, or going at a great premium.

Pumping Up Hotel Prices around the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2014How much of a premium? Well, I tried this little experiment to get an idea of the mark-up on the rooms in the surrounding area. Using three different popular travel lodging sites, I requested a room for two adults for a weekend stay – Friday, January 31, through Monday, February 3.

The results were the same for all three search engines. Many of the nearby hotels, such as the Extended Stay America Hotels (one in East Rutherford, one in Rutherford and one in Secaucus) and the nearest Sheraton and EconoLodge, were already booked to capacity.

And the rooms that are left are there for a reason: they are going for pumped up room rates that rival the markup on a beer in the stadium.

Just for fun (though it turned out to be anything but fun), I tried to compare the prices for the same three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights) just a week earlier. The Hilton Hotel Meadowlands East Rutherford offer a room rate of $151 per night for January 24 through January 27. A week later, that price jumps to $499 a night. Similarly, a room going for $141 a night at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites Carlstadt, less than a mile from the stadium, will cost you a whopping $450 for Super Bowl weekend. Expect even bigger markups at the Residence Inn by Marriott East Rutherford, which will be charging $789 a night for rooms that usually go for $179.

More Affordable Hotel Alternatives for the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 2014Yes, there are alternatives to the typical hotel room. But don’t expect to save a bundle if you plan to stay anywhere near the stadium.

Many locals are listing their properties for rent on such sites as Homeaway.com, looking to make some money from the influx of visitors to the area.

  • A six bedroom, three bath home in Montclair, NJ, for example, is a mere six miles from the game site – with a mere $1500 a night price tag.
  • A luxury 4000 square foot home 14 miles from the stadium can be rented for three nights for $16,289.
  • Across state lines, a condo in New York City is going for $1900-2200 per night for that weekend.

Finding a Super Bowl Hotel Room on a Budget  

Super Bowl 2014What can the traveling football fan on a budget do? Well, here are some creative ways to save a buck, while still being there for kickoff (provided, of course, you already have tickets):

  • Stay in the city. Usually I’d tell budget-conscious visitors to my area that it’s cheaper to stay in New Jersey and take mass transit to NYC. But Super Bowl weekend is the exception. A quick search showed most New York City hotel rooms are going for their regular (albeit higher) rates, while those in New Jersey have been bumped into the stratosphere for the occasion.
  • Search local bulletin boards or Craigslist for housing alternatives. Yes, many locals are looking to make some big money quick. Others are a bit more reasonable, especially if you’re willing to go with “unconventional housing.” For example, one ad on the Craiglist’s Central Jersey site offers Super Bowl attendees the rental of spacious mobile homes just minutes away from the MetLife at $250 a night. Even with the four night minimum, this is cheaper than most hotel rooms – and the RV sleeps seven. Sharing can bring your costs down even more!
  • Make it a road trip. Like I mentioned, my last Springsteen concert was at the MetLife, and because of a rain delay, we didn’t leave the stadium until 2 am. We still made it home to the Philadelphia suburbs with enough time to catch a couple of hours of sleep before the cat demanded breakfast.

So, if you’re willing to stay a few miles down the road, you can find bargain lodgings in Philadelphia (92.7 miles/1.5 hours away) or Atlantic City (124 miles, 2 hours away). Make a weekend of it by enjoying the historic sites in Philadelphia or the gaming wheels in Atlantic City, then top the weekend off with the big game.

And while you’re there, check out these free things to do in Philadelphia or these free things to do in Atlantic City