Sites serve U.S. Open deals
How to find the best prices on tickets for the Grand Slam tennis tournament.
The U.S. Open is in full swing, and ticket resellers are serving great deals -- at least if you're interested in catching players in early rounds before the competition really heats up.
Prices for the first rounds of the tournament, which began Monday and wraps up Sept. 12, are lower than last year's. First-round tickets are currently going for $109, a 13% decrease, according to ticket-search site FanSnap.com. Even quarterfinals prices, at an average $247 per ticket, are 12% cheaper than in 2009.
Like other major sporting events, the U.S. Open is still recovering from consumers' cutbacks during the recession. "Demand is starting to pick back up," says Robert Tuchman, executive vice president for Premiere Sports Travel, which creates sports travel packages. "If (the Open) is something on your bucket list, this would be the year to cross it off."
Would-be attendees can expect more movement in the price market as early matches determine which fan favorites move forward, says Christian Anderson, a spokesman for FanSnap.com. In part, prices are low now because Serena Williams and Justine Henin have withdrawn due to injury, making the progression of the women's tournament less certain. "People who act quickly can get pretty good deals," says Anderson.
Here's how to score cheap tickets:
Pick an early round. It's the nature of tournaments: "The later the session, the more expensive your ticket will be," says Russ D'Souza, a co-founder of SeatGeek.com, which tracks ticket prices. Visitors attending more for the broader experience than to follow a specific player will get better values during the first few days.
Go for grounds access. "Courtside tickets and even the luxury seats for the first couple of days are useless," Tuchman says. Get a cheap grounds access pass instead so you can wander between field courts and take in all the matches. "There's so much going on, and you'll see great tennis for cheap prices," he says. Access for the full day starts at $70.
Buy early for finals. Prices for the men's semifinals and finals are already 10% and 4% higher than last year, at $288 and $344, respectively, Anderson says. The women's semifinals average ticket price is up 10% to $223, but the finals are down 4% to $259 -- likely due to the notable player withdrawals, he says. Still, prices are likely to rise as earlier rounds play out. Shoppers who want to see those last matches regardless of who plays are likely to find the best deals now, he says.
Compare across sites. Use ticket search engine FanSnap.com to compare prices (including seller fees, taxes and shipping) for available tickets across reselling sites. Prices can vary dramatically even in the same section. At the Sept. 2 matches at Louis Armstrong Stadium, for example, seats in Row A of Courtside 37 range from $303 to $525 apiece, a difference of 42%. (Use the U.S. Open's viewer to get a sense of how much you'll see from a particular seat.)
Watch during the week. As with most sports, weekday games are a tougher sell, with daytime matches even cheaper than those at night, Anderson says.
Factor in club access. Some sellers include passes to the U.S. Open Club and other hospitality suites. Price out passes separately to make sure you're getting the best deal, D'Souza says. (They start at as little as $13 apiece.) Make sure your seats don't already include access, Tuchman adds. Courtside seats and luxury suite tickets usually include access to more select options. "They're still crowded, but it's less of a crowd," he says.
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