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How to Make Your Day at the Ballpark a Money-Saving Win

June 17, 2019
Managing Money, Personal Finance
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There’s something magical about attending a big-league ballgame in summer. Perhaps it’s the warm breeze, the smell of fresh-cut grass or the roar of thousands of strangers cheering in solidarity. But between tickets, food and merchandise, the cost can be a little less enchanting.

Try these tips to save money on a ballgame.

Tickets

Purchase tickets near — or on — game day

Waiting can pay off says Chris Leyden, communications manager at SeatGeek, a ticket search engine. In fact, it could save you as much as $30, on average, per ticket. A ticket sold the week of the game costs $38, on average, while a ticket sold more than a month before game day is $68, on average, according to data from SeatGeek.

Buying your ticket at the ballpark before the game can help you snag a good deal.

“Once the gates open, teams will release tickets that were held for players, umpires, other officials and celebrities,” says Ron Wade, a clinical assistant professor of sport management at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology. “You can get really good seats close to the action at face value, without online fees.”

Waiting has downsides, though. As you get closer to the event, tickets and selection may be limited, Leyden says. So if you’re hoping to sit with friends or in specific seats, you might not want to wait to make a play.

Buy from a reputable reseller

Check out secondary marketplaces for lower-priced tickets and money-back guarantees. Wade recommends using StubHub, an official MLB partner.

“If you get to the ballpark and somehow your ticket is not legit, they guarantee they will replace your ticket and get you into that venue,” Wade says. “They have people on site, usually at the box office, who can resolve StubHub issues.”

Avoid individual sellers and websites such as Craigslist that don’t provide safety nets, Wade says.

Attend a midweek game

Although less convenient for those working 9-to-5 jobs, weekdays are generally better bargains than weekends. Try a Wednesday day game rather than a Friday night or Saturday game.

Pick the right team

Game prices vary depending on who’s in town or which ballpark you travel to. If you’re flexible, research ticket costs for visiting teams and stadiums.

Underperforming teams and those with smaller fan bases are typically cheaper to watch. For example, the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies tend to drive prices down on the road while the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs have the opposite effect, Leyden says.

Sit in the cheap seats

Weather, vantage point and proximity to the field can all affect seat prices within a stadium. Usually, the closer to home plate you are, the more you’ll pay, but the most desirable seats differ from park to park.

During summer day games, seats in the shadier side of the stadium are often priced higher than those exposed to the sun, Leyden says. So if you can handle the heat, you could save a few bucks — but don’t forget your sunblock, a hat and protective clothing.

Get a monthly pass

Many teams sell digital passes for a flat fee, which include entry to every home game in a month. For die-hard fans on a budget, it’s an affordable way to catch multiple games. The Atlanta Braves Ballpark Pass goes for $39 per month. Research your team’s options, and note that tickets may be standing-room only.

Concessions and merchandise

Bring your own snacks

Buy your peanuts and Cracker Jack in advance to avoid major markups at the ballpark. Most teams allow outside food or non-alcoholic beverages, with restrictions. At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, you can bring in food as long as it isn’t in a bottle, can, cooler or thermos. Visit teams’ websites to review their respective policies.

Grab gear elsewhere

Keep an eye out for your local team’s apparel at third-party retailers like Target and Ross. You can often find hats, T-shirts and other gear for significantly less than at the stadium.

Become a member

Fan clubs, season tickets, credit cards and other memberships come with perks like team store and concession discounts. Many are free to join or cost a small annual fee. And kids can get in on the action, too.

“Just about every team has a kids club or youth program for young fans and often they will offer free tickets for Sunday games or day games, vouchers for buy one, get one free tickets and merchandise,” Wade says.

Look for promotions

Plan your ballpark trip around a fan appreciation day or special event. You may find deals like $1 hot dogs or a bobblehead giveaway. Ticket packages for groups or theme events — such as a “Star Wars” or Pride night — sometimes include free or discounted food and exclusive merchandise.

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