Baseball fans can find deals
The good news is that MLB ticket prices didn't jump this year, and there are discounts to be had.
For lovers of America’s pastime, “Take me out to the ball game” has been a bank-breaker for the last few years, with average ticket prices rising by 25.8% between 2005 and 2009 and 60% over the last decade. This summer, they’re still pricey, but with attendance down 3.2% so far this season, according to Baseball-Reference.com, it looks like someone is hitting the brakes.
The average ticket to a Major League game increased by just two pennies this year to $26.66 after a 5% hike in 2009, according to Team Marketing Report, a market research group. And the total price to take a family of four to a game dropped by nearly a dollar to $194.92. Want seats to Los Angeles Dodgers game? While the cheap seats are up by a third, to $12, the $650 spots behind home plate are the same, and so are the costs of mini-plans, says a team spokesman.
For the fourth straight year, the cheapest average ticket belongs to the Arizona Diamondbacks, at $14.31. Not a Diamondbacks fan? Here are some guidelines to help you, too.
Buying early doesn’t always pay. You might get a better location if you buy early. But the advantage can end there, says Todd DeVries, CEO of SportsFan.com, an online ticket vendor.
In fact, the closer you get to the date of the game, the better off you could be, if there’s a lot of inventory. Sometimes, you can even find good deals game day or the day before. Of course, it’s a rule of thumb, not an absolute.
A few exceptions include openers and teams like the Boston Red Sox, which have sold out 500 consecutive home games, says Glenn Lehrman, a spokesman for StubHub, a site that allows fans to buy and sell tickets.
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Don’t throw your money away. When buying, there are some common sense rules to follow. For starters, never buy tickets from a scalper at a game. If the ticket isn’t good, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Also, “if a ticket is selling for $100 everywhere else and you find a site selling the same ticket for $25, it's likely a scam,” says SportsFan.com’s DeVries. Never wire money to anyone's account, he advises, and if you’re skeptical of a ticket site, it's a good idea to contact their customer service team before making a purchase, he says. “If the seller is unwilling to answer your question, or does not respond at all, it is wise to steer clear.”
Craigslist continues to be a popular site for finding tickets. If you go that route, you should deal locally with people you can meet in person. “Follow this one simple rule and you will avoid 99% of the scam attempts on craigslist,” advises a note on the site. Here are more personal safety tips.
Choose your day carefully. Look for promotions, such as bargain nights or student nights. And if you can get a day off from work -- a day that not everyone else has off work, that is -- or if you have a flexible schedule, a day game might give you more competitive pricing.
In addition, some teams will price their tickets lower if they are playing a less desirable opponent, and raise their ticket prices if they are facing a top draw such as the New York Yankees, says DeVries.
Always look at the pitching matchup. “People tend to track who’s pitching and that will drive up walk-up price,” says Lehrman. If you can stand to see a non-star pitcher, you might avoid higher prices. The caveat: A non-star pitcher might be easier on your wallet but also increase the risk of seeing your team lose.
Secondary doesn’t always cost more. People assume that because it’s secondary it’s always priced higher -- i.e., whoever is selling the ticket is looking to make money -- but that’s not true. According to recent data, 40% of tickets on the secondary market -- whether sports, music or other events -- sell at face value or below, says Lehrman.
Craigslist and other sites request that users not sell tickets for more than face value. If you find someone who is on a site where it’s not allowed, report them.
Also look for deals. Sportsfan.com offers a variety of promotional or discount codes to Facebook fans or those who sign up for their newsletter, for instance.
Packages. If you want to see a high-profile game -- plus a few others -- you can get a discount on that big game by buying it as part of a package. For instance, an 11-game package at Yankee Stadium that includes the May 17 Yankees vs. Red Sox game starts at $220, or $20 a game, in the New Business Grandstand (405-414 426-434b) seating, while tickets for that game alone are starting about $43 on the secondary market. If you want to see more than just a few games, season tickets might be the way to go because they tend to offer discounted prices, good locations and postseason rights.
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