Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Fielding cheap baseball tickets

With prices varying widely, catching the best deal comes down to timing.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 5, 2013 12:29PM

This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site MarketWatch.

 

MarketWatch logoMajor League Baseball's March 31 opening day is still nearly a month away. But fans hoping to snag the best deal on tickets this season may want to move well before the first pitch is thrown.

 

Seattle Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez dives for a fly ball during a game on Sept. 7, 2012, in Seattle (© Elaine Thompson/AP Photo)After years of increases, last season average ticket prices across the league stayed fairly flat, at $26.98 for regular tickets and $88.18 for premium tickets, according to data firm Team Marketing Research. This year, early indications are that whether the price is up or down depends on the team.

 

The price of single-game tickets for the New York Mets, for example, is up 2% to 78%, depending on the game and seat section, while the Chicago Cubs dropped its prices 2% on average and the Boston Red Sox froze rates at 2012 levels.

 

Even so, 2013 Mets tickets are averaging just $73.91 on the secondary market, while Red Sox tickets average $96.38, according to SeatGeek.com, a site that aggregates secondary ticket market listings.

 

Experts say fans who buy early at the box office may snag better prices this year than in previous seasons, as teams move away from set face values to variable pricing (in which rates differ by game) and dynamic pricing (which changes constantly based on demand). With those systems, prices can go up or down, but tend to rise overall as the season progresses, says Will Flaherty, a spokesman for SeatGeek.com.

 

Preseason sales can represent some of the best box office prices. "They're trying to get fans to buy tickets from the team early," he says. That said, early buying with dynamic pricing in play isn't without risks: Teams can drop prices if there's bad weather in the forecast, if they get stuck in a losing streak, or there are just a few too many open seats.

Daily deal sites represent another potential bargain-hunting tactic for early buyers. Groupon announced a partnership with Major League Baseball in November to offer discount tickets and other perks, and Travelzoo recently offered Mets tickets for as little as $12, a day before they went on sale to the general public.

 

Sports-focused daily deal site CrowdSeats.com launched its baseball deals this week, including $24 tickets to a New York Yankees vs. Arizona Diamondbacks matchup on April 16 (a 45% discount) and $26 tickets to a San Francisco Giants vs. Colorado Rockies game on April 9 (40% off). Sales typically launch about two weeks out from game day, with discounts ranging from 30% to 60%, says Justin Cener, founder and chief executive for CrowdSeats.com.

 

Fans who wait to buy may not be shut out entirely. Secondary markets tend to see prices drop over time -- although tickets to headliner games can still go for more than double their face value, says Eric Hom, a spokesman for ticket aggregator FanSnap.com.

 

The first plunge may come soon. Depending on the team, secondary market fare may currently be just those games season ticketholders don't want to attend. Once team box offices open individual ticket sales to the general public, resale selection broadens and prices get more competitive. Prices drop further as more tickets become available during the season, he says. Of course, if the matchup is a hot one, or the team is on a winning streak, dalliers risk getting shut out, or priced out.

 

This year, Yankees tickets in particular may be more competitively priced, says Flaherty. The team opted out of renewing MLB's deal with resale site StubHub.com in favor of setting up a marketplace with TicketMaster. Sellers will be charged a 5% commission, versus 15% at StubHub.com. "That means the seller could set a lower price, while still getting the same amount from that ticket sale," he says.

 

Even dynamic pricing could work in the favor of fans who buy at the last minute. Many teams cut prices at the box office for last-minute buyers, says Barry Kahn, chief executive at Qcue, which implements dynamic pricing programs for sports teams. "Usually people ask one of two questions: What's the cheapest ticket, or what's the best ticket available?" he says. "It may be better to ask, 'What's the cheapest ticket downstairs?' Teams are trying to put really enticing upgrades out there."

 

More on MarketWatch and MSN Money:

1Comment
Mar 5, 2013 1:59PM
avatar
Ninety nine weeks of unemployment. While illegal's try to get over here for jobs. At least 10 million illegal's working here. So there are millions of jobs for Americans. You can not sit on your butts and get a different job. Move, travel or commute.
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.

ABOUT SMART SPENDING

Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

TOOLS

More