Ticket Buying Guide by Ultimate Sports Fan, Andrew
Most people spend their fanaticism understanding the play by play on the field while watching games on TV. Yet, a little extra effort will get you off the couch and into the game for a lot less than you would ever think. Most fans are driven by some common myths that keep them gun shy from attending the game.
1) “The news said the game is sold out so there is no way I can get in.”
2) “Buying from the box office is the best way to guarantee a fair price.”
3) “Buying from ticket scalpers will be a rip off.”
4) “Spending more money will get me a better seat.”
5) “It is cheaper to watch from the bar than go to the game.”
6) “I have to be a good negotiator to get a good deal.”
Let’s start by dispelling these myths and moving onto how you can get into any game.
Fact: The biggest deterrent for most fans is the local media hyping up an event and telling everybody that is sold out. Usually this creates a two to three day price frenzy causing knee jerk fans to but sky high tickets while other fans just watch in paralysis as their dream game seems to out of their financial league. Case in point is the coveted Cubs ticket. In May and June, many games are going for well under face value and many times fans give away their tickets outside of Wrigley Field.
Fact: Think back to your old intro to economics class. Price is completely based on supply and demand. If the game is not sold out and you see an abundance of people searching for potential buyers trying to get rid of their tickets you are guaranteed to get a lower than box office price with no negotiation necessary. In fact, buyers might start fighting over you.
Fact: Sure they look sketchy and they are often yelling suspect catch phrases to get your attention but a ticket scalper should be your best tool to get a great price on game day. Start thinking of a scalper as merely a person who brings together a buyer (“you”) with a potential seller without making you do any of the work. It is no different then StubHub or eBay except that the scalper is on location. As we wrote in fact check #2, take advantage of a favorable market to save some money and get a great price. Many times a scalper is the best way to do it.
Fact: This is really a case where less can be more. If you are buying tickets in advance for a game that is not sold out, you are merely just paying for a non-cancelable “reservation.” Waiting to see where the ticket market goes can be your best bet to finding a great seat. By waiting, you may pay the same price for a seat worth twice as much. Also, you need to know your stadium. Sometimes the priciest seats are not worth the money. For instance, Cubs 200-level seats are priced higher but notoriously worse than the cheaper views in the upper deck.
Fact: Three hours in a bar at $5 per beer, that’s enough cash to get you into a game. Before you give up and head into the bar to “save money” take a lap around the stadium just soon after the game starts. Sometimes you can get free tickets or desperate fans trying to get rid of an extra ticket for well under face value. If the guy really saves you a lot of money feel free to buy him a beer in the stadium.
Fact: In the absence of good negotiating skills, research can get you a long way in saving money. If you already know the market value of tickets you are only asking for the “right” price. Plus, a majority of the time the scalper on the street’s prices will already be cheaper than any online exchange before the game. By just showing up outside the stadium with no tickets will save you money and you will not have to negotiate unless you want to see how low the scalper will go.
What all of these myths have in common is that sports fans are preoccupied with saving money or worried about spending too much money. The tips and tricks to avoid these fears and debunk these common myths are driven getting you into the game and into the best seats for less.
Not all stadiums are equal. Not all teams are equal. Not all games are equal. The biggest mistake you can make is approaching all games as though they are. The next section breaks down some ticket buying principles for each type of game that you might encounter – everything from a regular season game to a championship clincher.
Ticket Buying Strategies for Each Type of Event
People often ask me: “What’s the best way to buy tickets to a Cubs game?” Feel free to insert your favorite team or coveted ticket into that sentence. Well, the answer depends on the type of event that you are trying to attend and we are not just talking about football vs. baseball. Each sporting event can be broken into six sub-categories which will help you determine how to get the best price for a great seat.
1) Championship Games – This category is pretty self explanatory. These are the big ticket games that almost everybody wants to go to. The good news is that people are brain washed by the media in thinking these tickets are unattainable – especially when the White Sox make the World Series or the Bears are in the Super Bowl. A good strategy will save you hundreds of dollars on tickets.
2) Playoff Games (including Clinching Games) – Playoff games can often generate just as much excitement as championship games but the good news is there is more than one playoff game to choose from which gives you a lot of options to get into the game and probably get a good deal.
3) Sold Out Regular Season Game – Regardless of a playoff or even a winning season there are some teams and stadiums that generate enough excitement to still sell out their games – think sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley Field or the Green Monster at Fenway Park during the summer. But, just as with playoff games, sold out regular season games can vary greatly in secondary market ticket availability and the cost of those tickets.
4) Just Another Regular Season Game – These regular season games are not sold out. In fact, in the upper deck you might see rows of empty seats and fans starting to sneak to better sections. These games are a dime a dozen and often where you will save the most money on the face value of the tickets – enough to bring your whole family.
5) Second Class Sports – I never like to downgrade any sport as being “second class.” I have been to professional billiards, bowling, fishing and table tennis. But, I have to acknowledge the less popular sports as a ticket category in and of itself. These sports are not followed by most fans let alone on most fans radar to attend. They consist of the minor leagues of the main sports as well as out of the box sports such as action sports, bull riding and lacrosse.