Image: NFL Ticket Exchange
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Individual tickets that originally sold for $800 to $1,200 are being offered by Ticketmaster for re-sale on the official NFL Ticket Exchange at prices ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. You’ll pay through the nose, but these tickets are guaranteed.
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By Travel writer
msnbc.com contributor
updated 1/25/2011 7:25:37 PM ET 2011-01-26T00:25:37

When the Green Bay Packers meet the Pittsburgh Steelers for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 6, about 100,000 officially ticketed spectators will watch the game from inside Cowboys Stadium. A few thousand additional sports enthusiasts will watch the game on giant video screens at a ticketed “Plaza Party” next to the stadium.

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And outside the stadium, there will be an unknown number of forlorn fans staring in disbelief at bogus game tickets, trying to figure out how they got scammed.

Scammers who rip off Super Bowl fans with fake tickets, non-existent hotel rooms and counterfeit souvenir merchandise have become part of the game. The scams persist despite an annual Department of Transportation memo reminding the public that it’s illegal to market a Super Bowl air and ticket package without actually having the tickets or a contract for the tickets in hand.

Want to be among the non-scammed Super Bowl fans? Study these tips from the experts.

Slideshow: Dazzling Dallas (on this page)

Tickets to the game
Individual tickets that originally sold for $800 to $1,200 are being offered by Ticketmaster for re-sale on the official NFL Ticket Exchange at prices ranging from $3,000 to $20,000. You’ll pay through the nose, but these tickets are guaranteed.

Poke around the Internet and you’ll find plenty of unofficial online marketplaces and auction sites selling tickets. If you choose this route, Jeannette Kopko of the Better Business Bureau serving Dallas and Northeast Texas recommends that you stick with licensed, reputable suppliers or resellers that have excellent BBB ratings and a verifiable guarantee on their sites.

“There are ticket sites that pop up around the games and then disappear later,” she said. “Keep in mind that even if a website looks lovely, that’s no guarantee. Do your homework and make sure there’s actually a ‘there’ there.” One place to start: the “Check out a business or charity” link on the Better Business Bureau website.

With the Super Bowl tickets for sale on eBay, Craigslist, Twitter and in local newspapers, the challenge is figuring out if you’re getting a ticket that will be honored in Arlington at the stadium gate. Of course, not everyone on these are scammers, but it’s a good idea to start any search by reading the tips and advice posted by the Better Business Bureau and Craigslist. Tops among them: “Always pay with a credit card or other secure form of payment” and “Never wire funds via Western Union, Moneygram or any other wire service.”

“Super Bowl is an exciting time,” said Kopko. “But don’t let it get in the way of knowing what you’re dealing with.”

Get to the game and sleep tight
Super Bowl weekend airfares (including taxes and fees) to the Dallas-Fort Worth area are averaging $326 round trip, according to Travelocity's Jenn Gaines. “That’s compared to $314 on average to Miami for last year’s Super Bowl.” Hotel rates in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are averaging $187 per night. “That’s right on par with the average hotel rate for Super Bowl in Miami last year,” she said.

Many hotels are requiring a four-night minimum stay for Super Bowl weekend. If you don’t want to stay that long, though, shop around. There are more than 100,000 hotel rooms in the 12-city North Texas “Metroplex” area that includes Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, so scarcity of rooms should not be a problem.

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In fact, as of late last week, “Ten percent to 15 percent of the hotels in Arlington still have rooms available,” said Jay Burress, president of the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chairman of the Super Bowl host committee’s Hospitality Action Team.

To be safe, book your rooms through a travel professional, a recognized travel website or directly with a hotel. The North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee website also has an accommodations button that will take you to Fan Experiences, an official NFL partner that has its own reservation system for individuals and small groups.

Overall, be sure you understand payment and cancellation terms, the distance between the hotel and the stadium (North Texas is big) and reconfirm directly with the hotel before you leave home.

Secure souvenirs
Upwards of $100 million of officially licensed Super Bowl merchandise will probably be sold this year by authorized NFL shops online, in and around the stadium, at area hotels and throughout the region. There will also be 22 official NFL kiosks inside the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Lots of counterfeit and unlicensed items will also show up for sale online and on the streets, but a task force with representatives from the NFL, area police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents “is already out there working to combat that activity,” said Tiara Richard of the Arlington police.

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Stay safe
The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport will greet Super Bowl fans with videos of NFL highlights, live music and entertainment that will include Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys mascot. The fun will start when fans hit the ground, but Alan Black, DFW’s Director of Public Safety, said arriving fans should remember that during the Super Bowl “it’s a good idea to be vigilant and to keep close track of your belongings.”

Pick-pockets are attracted to large gatherings, so “put your wallet, your tickets and other valuables in an inside coat pocket or in your front pocket,” said Richard. “During the 2010 World Series in Arlington, we had someone who had their game tickets stolen from their back pocket.”

Bruce McIndoe, president at iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, warns Super Bowl fans to pay attention to what’s going around them, not just the action on the field. “Drinking, crowds and unfamiliar areas all contribute to a higher likelihood for accidents, including slips, falls, bumps and even altercations. Stay aware and remove yourself quickly if a scuffle erupts.”

Before the game, McIndoe recommends that you and your family or friends choose a meeting spot in case you get separated and an alternate meeting spot away from the venue. If there’s an incident, “It’s likely you will not get a phone call or text message to work when everyone is trying to get on the system at the same time,” he said.

And no matter how exciting things get at the game, don’t let the partying get too far out of hand.

“There is a detention cell inside the stadium,” said Richard of the Arlington police.

Harriet Baskas is a frequent contributor to msnbc.com, authors the “Stuck at the Airport” blog and is a columnist for USATODAY.com. You can follow her on Twitter .

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Photos: Dazzling Dallas

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  1. Dallas in the spotlight

    Super Bowl fans will find plenty to do in Dallas, from shopping to visiting a musuem to taking in the nightlife at the city's bars and restaurants. (Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Real-life cowboys

    A daily cattle drive takes place Jan. 19 at the stockyards in Fort Worth, Texas. The Fort Worth Stockyards on Exchange Avenue are just one of the sights football fans can see as they descend upon the Dallas-Fort Worth area for Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (LM Otero / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. The fat lady sings

    "The Dallas Opera has performed three world premieres and five American premieres," according to its website. The Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House is located in Dallas. (Timothy Hursley) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. They call him Country Willie

    Legendary musician Willie Nelson, seen performing last year at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas, will perform ahead of Super Bowl weekend at the Palladium Ballroom. (Bob Riha / Virgin America Airlines via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. The real deal

    Visitors to Dallas can enjoy real, authentic Mexican food, like the Chuychanga at Chuy's. (Chuy's) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Flagship store

    The Neiman Marcus Building, in downtown Dallas at Main and Ervay Streets, is a recorded Texas historic landmark. The building was completed in 1914. (Neiman Marcus) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Drinking, music and ... bull riding?

    "More than just a honky tonk," claims the Billy Bob's Texas website. Located in the Fort Worth Stockyards, Billy Bob's offers up meals, drinks, dance lessons, concerts and, yes, bull riding. (Billy Bob's Texas) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cowboys Stadium

    Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will host the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6, 2011, for Super Bowl XLV. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Dallas Blooms

    This floral festival at the Dallas Arboretum, boasts its website, "is the largest floral festival in the southwest with over 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs." (Dallas Arboretum) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Hard rider

    Kelsi Elkins is seen riding to a time of 18.07 seconds in the Championship Barrel Race event at Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo on Jan. 29. The year 2011 marks the 115th Championship year of the event, according to its website. (Max Faulkner / The Fort Worth Star-Telegram via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Remembering JFK

    High on the list for first-time visitors to the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Dealey Plaza, nearby the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 in Dallas. An admission fee will get you in to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, inside the building known as the Texas School Book Depository, where Lee Harvey Oswald set up his perch at a corner window. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Celebrating sports history

    Iconic photographs taken by Neil Leifer are on display at the Neil Leifer exhibit, titled "For the Love of the Game," at the Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery in Dallas, through March 26. (Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Big game excitement

    Annaleise Weir, left, of Dallas and Anna Bray, right, of Wylie, Texas, ice skate around a freshly added Super Bowl XLV logo at the Galleria shopping mall Jan. 24 in Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Blended or on the rocks?

    Dallas is home to the first frozen margarita machine, invented by Dallas restaurateur Mariano Martinez and inspired by a 7-Eleven Slurpee machine. (Mariano's Hacienda) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Works of art

    Northpark Mall has a "tradition of showcasing major works by world-renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Jim Dine, Jonathan Borofsky, James Rosenquist and others," according to its website. (Gary Blockley) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Who shot J.R.?

    Actor Larry Hagman poses in 2008 in front of the Southfork Ranch mansion made famous in the hit 1980s television show "Dallas" in Parker, Texas. At least two Super Bowl parties are planned for the site, about 25 miles north of downtown Dallas. (Tony Gutierrez / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Thrill seekers

    The Flashback ride, foreground, and the parachute drop, background, are seen at Six Flags Over Texas, located in Arlington, Texas. (Six Flags Over Texas via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Maestro van Zweden

    Jap van Zweden, pictured at his premiere concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center in 2007, is the music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. (Dallas Symphony Orchestra via Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Art walk

    The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas "is one of the few institutions in the world devoted to the exhibition, study and preservation of modern sculpture," according to its website. The collection at NSC includes 300 sculptures, paintings and drawings. (Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. A slice of history

    Self-proclaimed Kennedy fanatic Chris Mays from California takes photos of the grassy knoll in front of the former Texas School Book Depository Building, left, in Dealey Plaza, where the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy took place in Dallas. (Mark Ralston / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Big welcome

    The State Fair of Texas at Fair Park in Dallas with inflatable 'Big Tex' at night. Big Tex stands 52-feet-tall and has been welcoming visitors to the fair since 1952. (Peter Poulides / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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