11 Ways to Save Money on Live Sporting Events
So you probably missed out on getting tickets to the Super Bowl this year. That's OK. The thrifty crowd here at Wise Bread knows a good value, and we'll tell you that tickets to any major championship game rarely fit that mold. (See also: How to Watch Sports Without Cable)
But being frugal doesn't mean you have to be stuck watching every sporting event on television. It's possible to show off your team loyalty in person without dipping too deep into the savings account.
If you follow these tips below, you can have a great time at a live sporting event without spending a lot of money.
1. Know Where to Find Free Tickets
It's entirely possible to score tickets to games without paying a dime. Do you work for a company that sponsors a local team? Chances are, the sponsorship deal may come with a block of tickets that aren't always being used. Check with your company's marketing department frequently to see if they are available.
Sponsors may also offer free tickets to customers through special promotions. In the part of Maryland where I live, there's a local gas station chain that offers free Baltimore Orioles tickets after a certain number of fill-ups at the pump. Promotions like these are plentiful if you keep your eyes open.
2. Look for Resellers
It may be natural to assume that tickets for sale on the "secondary market" come with a big mark-up. We all have visions of shady scalpers outside arenas, looking to take advantage of unsuspecting fans. But the truth is that many sellers are normal people who are simply looking to unload unwanted tickets at any price. And these days, re-selling is often done online through safe and legitimate websites.
The key is to find games with low demand for tickets, then find someone with a ticket they aren't using. Many leagues and teams have their own "official" resale sites, or partner with sites such as Stubhub or Tickets.com. You can search by seat location and by price, and often find some great deals. Be sure to read the fine print to avoid getting scammed, and also factor ticketing fees into your purchase price. Speaking of which….
3. Avoid Fees
When you buy tickets online you are often charged a wide range of "convenience" fees that can, in some cases, double the total cost of your ticket. You can usually avoid these fees by purchasing tickets at the stadium box office. If you can't get to the stadium in advance, don't order tickets and have them mailed to you. Instead, you may avoid some fees by having tickets held at Will Call, or by selecting the option to print tickets from home. These days, it may also be possible to avoid some fees by entering the game using a ticket displayed on your mobile device. (See also: A Breakdown of Concert Ticket Prices)
4. Skip the Big Games
If your goal is to see a game for cheap, don't bother going to games featuring the most popular teams. Many sports teams now have "tiered" pricing, meaning that tickets are more expensive for the most in-demand games, while tickets for less popular games are cheaper. Sure, you may miss out on seeing a superstar or two, but you'll save a ton of money and will still have fun.
5. Check High Schools, Colleges, or Minor Leagues
I am personally biased toward the pro teams, but my 4-year-old son doesn't know the difference. If you're going to take the family to a game, consider looking at high school or college games (which are often free) or to minor league events, which offer great family friendly environs, free parking, and low ticket prices. (See also: How to Find Cheap Local Events)
6. Go on an Off Night
Don't bother with weekend or Friday night games. Look for games on Mondays or Tuesdays. These games usually are not as well-attended as games on the weekend, so tickets are usually cheaper and more available.
7. Eat Beforehand and Pack Some Snacks
Stadium food is notoriously overpriced. If you eat a big meal beforehand, you won't feel the temptation to spend $10 on that plate of overcooked chicken fingers. Also check to see if your team's stadium allows fans to bring in outside food. Every facility is different, but there are some teams that welcome fans to bring in hot dogs, sandwiches, and drinks from outside vendors. Even if teams are strict in their policies, you should be able to bring in some bottled water and sneak some candy or granola bars in your purse or backpack. (See also: 12 Cheap and Healthy Snacks)
8. Don't Drink
A beer at the ballpark may be a heavenly thing, but it's also an expensive one. A cold one at an average Major League Baseball stadium might set you back $7 or $8, according to Team Marketing Report. A few beers at a game can really hit you hard in the wallet.
9. Don't Park Near the Stadium
Sometimes the price of parking at a game is higher than the price of your ticket. But if you do some research, you'll be able to get to the game without getting ripped off. Consider taking public transit, if it's convenient. If you have to drive, look for lots further away from the stadium. If you're willing to walk a half-mile or more, you can usually find parking for at least half the price of parking closer. Truly savvy fans may even be able to find free parking if they know where to look. (See also: Guide to Saving at Baseball Stadiums)
10. Avoid the Team Store
Most stadiums have stores featuring a wide range of merchandise with the logo of the home team. It's fun to browse, but if you're in the market for a team T-shirt, teddy bear, or refrigerator magnet, the stadium store is the worst place to go. Generally, you should be able to find the same merchandise online for less money. Search official team websites or top retailers such as Fanatics.com. Also check out eBay for bargains on team-specific items.
11. Go With a Group
If you'd like to attend a game, ask around to see who else might want to come with you. The larger the group, the more likely you are to get tickets at a discount. If you can round up a group of 15 or more, you could save a considerable amount and may get some extra benefits like discounted tickets to future games.
Are you a pro sports fan? How do you save on the high cost of event tickets?