Spring is here and opening day of the baseball season is less than a week away. And while professional sporting events might not seemingly fit into everyone’s budget at the moment, there are many simple ways that individuals can affect theirs spending so that attending a game is not as costly as it seems. In a follow up to our recent post on saving money while on vacation, here is a list of 9 easy ways to save money while attending a Major League Baseball game this season.
If Possible, Buy Tickets in Person (in Advance)
Most sports fans have probably purchased tickets online at least once, but there is a noticeable problem with doing this: processing fees. Whether you are purchasing one ticket or ten, it is not unusual to be charged a fee for each ticket. Then there are shipping charges if you want the tickets mailed to you. If you have the luxury of living near the stadium, it makes a lot of sense to go to the ticket office – most of which are open 8-5 Monday through Friday – and purchase tickets in advance. For instance, I had to buy tickets for a group of friends for opening days at Angels stadium. Tickets for the cheap seats were $19.00 online, with a $5.25 service fee — I needed 16 tickets. The total cost would have been $388, or $24.25 per person. Since I live only ten miles from the stadium, I decided to see if there was a better deal to be had by purchasing the tickets in-person. Luckily, the box office was running a promotion that was not advertised online – buy three tickets get one free (plus there were no service fees). As a result, I ended up really only paying for 12 tickets. The total cost ended up being $228, or $14.25 per person. Total savings were $160, or 41%.
If you do not live close enough to the stadium to purchase tickets in-person, there are some alternatives to buying tickets directly from the team. Especially if the game is same-day or next-day, there are a lot of websites where ticket holders are try to get rid of their tickets, usually at discounted rates. This can include sites such as craigslist.org or stubhub.com. Buying tickets from fans on these sites help you to avoid service fees as well. If you are wary of these options, or are looking for specific tickets (or you are buying in bulk), search online for special promotions. Like most online retailers, many major league teams run promotions throughout the season that are redeemable the day of the game. A simple Google search can help you to find what promotions are not openly advertised, and can be a helpful way to save money on the ticket price.
Choose Games Based on Price
These days many teams offered two-tiered ticket pricing: the first tier are normal-priced, and apply to games against most teams; the second tier is typically 30% greater, and applies to either the reigning World Series champions, league or divisional champions, and big-market teams such as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox. If it is not important to you which club you see your home team go up against, then avoiding these games would make perfect sense. Depending on which stadium you choose, certain teams also offer discounted prices for day or night games during the week, which are generally cheaper than weekend games. Additionally, a lot of teams offer special mid-week promotions, such as the $5 Wednesday night tickets that The New York Mets currently offer for select weeks. Of course these are offered in limited numbers, and may be associated with certain restrictions such as when they and how many can be purchased. It is suggested to call your local team for more info.
Buy Tickets in Bulk
Even before the economy took a turn for the worse, many teams began offering discounted rates for tickets purchased in bulk. This can include multiple tickets purchased for the same game (see earlier example), or a group of tickets purchased together as a package for dates throughout the season. Tickets purchased in bundles typically include a good discount, and if you are traveling with a large group (usually over twenty) you can expect the savings to be even greater. You may have to contact the organization directly for more details, but just as is the case with any other industry, businesses understand the merits of customers that bring a lot of business to the table and will likely offer discounts to them.
One of the biggest hidden costs in attending a baseball game is parking. And in many cases, parking costs can be close to the ticket price. However, there are ways of avoiding this. If you are attending a game in a downtown urban setting such as the Yankees Stadium, San Diego’s Pet Co Park or San Francisco’s AT&T Park, you can take mass transit to the stadium. Alternately, you can find parking in a nearby neighborhood and walk to the stadium. If you are attending stadiums in less urban settings, you can typically find parking off-site for a discounted rate. These types of lots are also more inviting for tailgaters.
Tailgating is more traditionally associated with football than baseball, but there is a growing trend among baseball fans to get to games early and hang out with other fans in the parking lots. For fans that like to have a couple of beers when they are at the game, this is an obvious way to offset the $10 brews offered inside the park. If you don’t drink, it is a way to congregate with other fans, talk baseball and eat your own food – if they don’t allow it inside the stadium. Every season I see more and more fans coming to games early with their own barbecues, that are presumably saving lots of money and probably eating better food than what is offered inside.
Bring Your Own Food and Water
As was mentioned above, tailgating offers the fan an opportunity to eat and drink prior to the game, while bringing their own supplies and saving money. Many stadiums still do not allow outside food inside the stadium, but some do. You should check with your local team to see if this is an issue or not. Bringing your own meal, snacks, and water to the game can also be a useful way of cutting costs, due to the fact that prices for common food items are typically much greater inside the stadium. From my experience, the average cost of a 16oz bottle of water at a professional baseball game ranges $4- $5 dollars each. This is a lot more than what you could get this for at a grocery store, or if you were to bring your own refillable bottle of filtered water from home.
Don’t Buy Souvenirs
As we mentioned in our Spring Break article, a good way to save money is to avoid impulsively purchasing things you don’t need. It is widely known that apparel, hats and other souvenirs at the stadium are priced higher than they are at outside retailers. In some cases, the price inside the stadium can be twice as much. If you could see yourself wanting a hat or a t-shirt of your favorite team to wear at the game, why not buy it before hand? In any case, thinking about whether you will want or need a hat before you get to the stadium can help to avoid unnecessary costs while at the game. This can include: sunblock, sunglasses,fans, hats, etc.
Another common sense way to cut costs at a game is to opt for the cheaper seats. The pricing spectrum is pretty broad at sporting events, and cheaper seats can sometimes be just as good as some of the pricier ones. For example, tickets at the new Yankee Stadium range from $14 – 2,625. It could be argued that you get what you pay for, but for many people looking for ways to cut out unecessary expenses, going for cheaper seats is a good start to taking a large chunk out of your total expense. Also, if you attend a game that is not sold out, many ushers will allow you to move from the cheaper seats to the better seats once it becomes apparent (usually by the 5th or 6th innning) that these seats are not occupied. Of course, make sure this is alright with an stadium employee before you do so, because it can be embarrassing to be asked to leave your seats when the true ticket holder shows up!
Do you have other money saving tips for a trip to the ballpark? If so, please share in the comments below!