Every four years, spectators across the world tune into the Summer Olympic Games to follow their favorite athletes as they embark on the quest for gold. This summer will be no different when tonight’s marquee opening ceremony officially kicks off the 2012 olympic season, setting the tone for the next 17 days. There has been a lot of hype leading up to this this year’s ceremony, and many have wondered whether or not England will be able to pull off a spectacle like China did in 2008. Regardless of whether London delivers, this is one of the most highly-anticipated events in the world, as evidenced by extremely high ticket prices on the resale market.

Opening Ceremony Ticket Prices

Face value tickets to the much-anticipated Opening Ceremony ranged, fittingly, between £20.12 at the low end and £2,012 for top tier, “Category AA” tickets ($31.57 and $3,157 in USD). That’s a lot of money for anyone, but it’s a comparative steal when matched up against what fans have paid on secondary markets. The average resale price for an Opening Ceremony ticket is a whopping $2,550, and with the tickets we tracked bearing an average face value of $1,470, tickets on average have sold for 73% over their already lofty face values.

The single most expensive ticket price paid for any Olympics tickets in our dataset was $4000 per ticket for “Category B” seats to the Opening Ceremony — nearly $2,500 over face value of $1,524. 16 of the 17 highest priced tickets recorded in our analysis were for the Opening Ceremony, leading us to confidently say that Friday’s event will be the hottest ticket of London 2012.

Just to put this into context, the average price of $2,550 puts a ticket to the Opening Ceremonies in roughly the same ballpark as a Super Bowl ticket. The average price of a ticket to Super Bowl XLVI this past February was $2,990.

Top Sports

In general, we’ve seen the most ticket demand for the following sports – Swimming, Track and Field, Men’s Basketball and Tennis.

  • Swimming – Tickets to swimming events were the most expensive of all athletic events, going on the secondary market for an average of $713.80. That constitutes 242% premium over their average face value of $208.64.
  • Track and Field – Aside from the Opening Ceremonies, track and field tickets generally had the highest face values to begin with (the average of the tickets in our dataset was $344.88). That said, Track and Field tickets still fetched $569 on average, with prime Gold Medal sessions going for closer to $1,000 on average.
  • Men’s Basketball – The average premium over face value for a basketball ticket on the secondary market is 148%, the third highest of any Olympic event. Although tickets originally sold for an average of $167.92, the current resale price is $416.47, an increase of nearly $250. Tickets to see USA Basketball in action during even preliminary rounds were routinely going for $500 and up on secondary markets.
  • Tennis – Of all the Olympic events we tracked, Tennis had the highest average premium over face value at an average of 260%. Tickets for matches at Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club sold for an average of $379.12 on secondary markets, up $273.76 from their average face value of $105.

Top Individual Events

As for the actual athletic competitions, here are a few of the hottest tickets we’ve seen in our analysis, with the star-studded events (think those featuring Usain Bolt, Ryan Lochte and LeBron James) leading the pack:

  • Predictably, the Men’s Basketball final is among the most expensive individual Olympic tickets. Seats with an average face value of $376 have sold for an average resale price of $1,223 — a premium of 325%.
  • The last day of swimming competition includes the 4 x 100 medley relay, Michael Phelps’ 7th and final event – and one that featured a dramatic finish in Beijing. Tickets to that session have sold for an average of $1,131 on resale markets — a 405% increase over their average face value of $279.
  • Tickets to an August 5th track and field session that includes the men’s 100M final are selling for an average of $1,078 as compared to an average $615 face value — a premium of 175%.