Taking the family to a ball game may feel like an all-out blitz on your wallet, and with the average NFL ticket price coming close to $80, it pretty much is. Baseball is more affordable at $27 per ticket, but when you factor in parking, peanuts and cracker jacks (and a beer or two for mom and dad), your bill could easily top $200.
There are ways to keep costs down that don’t involve sitting in the nosebleed section if you know where to look and when. Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid so you don’t end up on the losing team before they game even starts.
1. Looking for tickets in the same old places
Most everyone knows to hit up sites like TicketMaster.com or StubHub.com to look for tickets, but if you’re just doing that, you may be missing out on big savings. SeatGeek.com is a relative newcomer in the sports tickets arena and sometimes offers better deals than its competitors. “It’s like Kayak but for sporting tickets,” explains Will Flaherty, the director of communications for SeatGeek . “We aggregate ticket deals from sites like StubHub, eBay, broker sites — basically we’ve got all the major inventory from the major sites minus Craigslist.” The site also has some added features like interactive stadium maps and tickets listed by row that make it easy to shop.
Another interesting new site is CrowdSeats.com, a daily deal site for sports tickets (think Groupon but for sports). You enter your email and location on the site, and it will email you when deals on sports events in your area arise. No matter where you buy, beware of the fees, which can easily add 10% or more to the price you pay.
Finally, it’s worth checking out ScoreBig.com, which lets you bid on sports tickets. It’s simple to use: Find the tickets you want to buy on the site and enter in how much you’re willing to pay for those tickets. You’ll find out instantly if your offer was accepted.
2. Buying too far in advance
Procrastinators, this may be your lucky day: Waiting until the last minute to buy sports tickets may be one of the best ways to land deals. “Prices almost always fall in the hours before the event,” says Flaherty. OK, so you’re not going to find last-minute deals on the Auburn vs. Alabama football game, but on less desirable games, you just might. To find these tickets, Jeanette Pavini, the household savings expert for Coupons.com, recommends looking on the secondary market at sites like StubHub.com, Goldstar.com and TicketsNow.com. (You should also check out the sites we mentioned above.)
3. Picking the wrong seats
Front row center seats are the priciest and corner back row are usually the least expensive (duh, you knew that). It’s the in betweens that consumers have a tougher time figuring out. Here’s a secret: Start at the center rows near the front and keep moving right or left. “You sometimes get a huge price break when you hit a new section even though the seats aren’t really that much worse than those nearby,” says Flaherty. “You can see prices move by $100.” Basically, you’re looking for seats right along the border of the coveted section (center near the front); they aren’t much worse than those in what’s considered the “best” section, but since they’re technically in another section, you get a price break.