Minute to win it for Bears-Packers tickets

It was Firefox vs. Internet Explorer at the office Tuesday afternoon. At exactly 1:57 p.m. Chicago time, I opened up both browsers on my computer, headed straight to the Ticketmaster website, found the listing for this Sunday's NFC Championship Game and began frantically hitting the "refresh" button on both pages. Roughly 10 "captchas" and "Sorry, no exact matches were found" messages later, there it was. On the Firefox half of the screen (was there really any doubt the 'fox would win?) was one single ticket in section 348, row 1, for $140 plus fees. On any other Sunday, a bit pricey for a seat high up in the end zone. On this Sunday, it's the sports equivalent of Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket.

Sunday marks just the second time football's oldest rivals, the Bears and the Packers, will meet in the NFL playoffs. The winner will receive the George S. Halas trophy, named after the legendary Bears player, coach and owner, and advance to the Super Bowl to battle it out for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, so named for the beloved Packers coach of the 1960s. Never has the stage been set for a more perfect conference championship. And never has the ticket world been so flush with buyers willing to go all in for a chance to witness history.

The very limited number of face value tickets for Sunday's game sold out on Ticketmaster in less than 60 seconds. Yes, 60 seconds. Thousands of people were on the site trying to score a seat and the few who got through scooped them up in less than a minute. Well, it must have been the luck of the Irish coming through for me again, 'cause I'll got one. I'll be bundled up in my seat at Soldier Field, flanked by two complete strangers (hopefully not wearing foam cheeseheads), and it only cost me about $160 after taxes. But for those poor unfortunate souls who will now turn to secondary markets for their tickets, things look dire.

Right now the cheapest ticket on StubHub.com is a $450 seat in section 348, row 34. The most expensive ticket out there? A pair in the United Club, for a cool $15,000 EACH. Wanna sit behind the Bears' bench in the 100 level? That'll cost you $8,000 a ticket. Someone is even trying to get nearly six grand for a seat in the 400-level grandstands! We can all agree that there's no way to replicate the thrill of seeing a big game in person, but there's also something to be said for not blowing half your child's college fund on a three-hour game of pigskin. The average cost of a ticket on StubHub is about $700. Here's a look at what you could buy instead of that $700 ticket if you stay home and have a viewing party instead ...

Six medium Domino's pizzas.

Six 12-packs of beer.

Five "Packers Suck" T-shirts for Bears fans.

Five foam cheeseheads for your friends pulling for the Packers.

and ... one 40-inch Sony flat screen TV to watch the game on.

Not a bad deal. Just remember to invite me over after the game! I'm gonna work up quite the appetite cheering!

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