The two tickets that Jonathan Chin bought online for Sunday's NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park set the Palo Alto native back a little over $500 apiece.
Airfare from Southern California, Chin estimates at $200. Parking and tailgating are expected to come with their own tabs.
Total cost of watching in person as the San Francisco 49ers try to reach their first Super Bowl since 1995: "A little less than a paycheck," said Chin, 25.
Chin, a longtime 49ers fan, is a Marine stationed at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. The price of the junket north, he said, is well worth it.
"I said if tickets were under $800 a person, I would go," he said by phone. "When things like this come along, you've got to take advantage of it.
"It's a very important game to me."
With the 49ers one win away from the Super Bowl and in the midst of a season that has jolted the proud franchise from its mid-decade doldrums, tickets to Sunday's game between the 49ers and the New York Giants are the hottest in town.
The game, not surprisingly, is sold out. General seating tickets made available to the public on Wednesday sold out within minutes.
Ticket-holders selling their seats through resale websites such as the NFL Ticket Exchange or StubHub are often listing them for several times the face value hundreds or, in some cases, thousands of dollars.
A ticket in hand means the chance to experience the playoff atmosphere at Candlestick Park that was commonplace in the 49ers' heyday of the 1980s and early 1990s.
But for those still hunting for a seat, settling onto the couch or into a local sports bar would seem a cheaper and considering the forecast, drier alternative.
So why consider spending the small fortune to attend? According to Christian End, an expert on fan behavior and an associate professor at Xavier University's department of psychology, the motivation is often as simple as being able to tell people you were there.
"I think there is some sort of reinforcement, some sort of positive response that you receive from other people, some sort of social status that you receive from others when you say, 'I was at that big game,' " End said.
End, a Green Bay Packers fan, said he attended last year's NFC title game and Super Bowl, both of which the Packers won. When those games come up in conversation with other Packers fans, he said, "There's kind of this reaction of, 'Oh, I wish I could've been there.' "
Fans who identify strongly with a team want to feel a part of its success, said Kirk Wakefield, executive director of the Sports, Sponsorship and Sales program at Baylor University.
So when a team like the 49ers approaches the pinnacle of its sport, Wakeland said, fans' desire to experience games firsthand helps drive up ticket prices on the open market of resale.
That is especially the case for an event like Sunday's game, with its win-or-go-home stakes and the ever-present possibility that another decade could pass before the 49ers' next NFC title game appearance.
"The reason it ratchets up on StubHub and those sites is the value of that ticket is emotionally worth way more than the face value," Wakefield said.
On Thursday afternoon, the website SeatGeek, which aggregates ticket prices from various online sellers, placed the average price of a ticket to Sunday's game at $658. On StubHub, which allows sellers to name their price, tickets started at $375, while one listing advertised a pair of lower box seats near midfield for $8,500 apiece.
In the 48 hours after it was determined last Sunday that the 49ers would play the Giants in San Francisco, about 7,500 tickets were bought through StubHub, said company spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer.
Those who are still in the market for tickets, though, may benefit from having waited it out, Ferrer said.
For last weekend's divisional playoff game between the 49ers and the New Orleans Saints, ticket prices on StubHub fell 20 percent to 25 percent by Friday the day before the game probably because sellers realized they were running out of time to move them, Ferrer said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a pretty similar trend this week," Ferrer said.
Among those still hoping for a price drop Thursday was Chris Balding, 26, of Sacramento. Balding said he tried to buy tickets when they were released Wednesday, but was unsuccessful. His self-imposed budget of about $250 per ticket falls short of the cheapest options on resale websites.
"It's just that I don't feel they're worth more than that to me," Balding said.
Of course, another option would be to befriend somebody with an extra seat. Gilbert Nunez, 34, of Marina in Monterey County, is in that group.
"I've been offered so many things, from money to cooking dinner for me for a year, doing my laundry for a year," said Nunez, who is a salesman and supervisor at Costco and a season-ticket holder with two upper-reserve level seats.
The monetary offers reached $500, or about five times the face value of the ticket, he said. In the end, though, he turned them down in favor of bringing a friend who he knows is a "loyal fan" and "cheers extremely loud."
"I guess that makes me a little crazy," Nunez said.
11 a.m. today: Matt Barrows hosts a preview of the NFC championship.