Football season is back, playoff baseball is about to begin, NASCAR playoff races start up, and hockey and basketball seasons are right around the corner. For sports fans, it doesn’t get much better than this.
There’s no better way to get in on the action than going to a live game to soak it all up in person. But between tickets and overpriced stadium food, the cost of going to a game adds up quickly.
Here are some ideas to keep the costs down on game-day festivities. Come game time, you don’t want the biggest matchup to be you versus your wallet.
Develop Your Game Plan
Pick the right game. The biggest game of the year is almost always going to mean the most expensive game of the year, too. If you’re looking to get a good deal, try to find a low-profile game toward the middle of the season.
Look for steals. Follow your teams on social, check out their official sites and stay on the lookout for ticket discounts. Teams often offer group rates or “family packs” that bundle multiple tickets plus food and drinks all for one, low price.
Try minor league or preseason games. For anyone who’s just looking for a fun night out, this is your way to go. You’ll get a chance to see some up-and-coming athletes before they get famous, and you can expect significantly lower prices.
Score some season tickets. Even if you personally don’t have season tickets, one of your friends might. Most season ticket holders can’t make it to every game, so buying tickets from a die-hard friend can be a great option if it’s on the table.
Create Your Budget
Your budget really only needs to consist of three things: ticket prices, transportation and game-day spending.
Set a max ticket price. Everyone wants to sit courtside or live it up in a suite, but you’ll still get an amazing atmosphere from the upper level. Just at a lower cost.
Avoid parking fees. See if a friend can drop you off or try grabbing an Uber or Lyft to avoid parking fees. If you absolutely have to drive, avoid parking lots that are right next to the stadium.
Set an in-game spending limit. The easiest way to keep yourself on track here is to take out some cash and leave your cards at home. If you’ve only got 50 bucks in your pocket, that’s the most you’ll spend. No matter how good those late-game nachos look.
Get Your Tickets
Now that you’ve got your plan set, it’s time to start making some moves.
Look at all your options. Giving a call to your team’s box office is one of the best places to start. They’ll be the most familiar with the team, the stadium and any upcoming discounts.
When it comes to secondary markets you’ve got Vivid Seats, SeatGeek, Ticketmaster, StubHub, TicketCity, Coast to Coast Tickets and oh-so-many more. Take 15 minutes, fire up some extra tabs on your browser and start comparing prices. You could end up saving $15 to $20 a ticket, making it worth the time and effort.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there, TopTenReviews.com offers a breakdown of the best features of the top sports-ticket sites.
Don’t jump the gun. Just like your team isn’t going to start throwing Hail Marys in the first quarter, you don’t need to pull the trigger on tickets on the first site you see. More often than not, it pays to wait it out a little to see if prices go down.
Most of the sites listed above will let you set price alerts that’ll update you if prices drop.
Plan Your Pre-Game
Sporting events are notorious for overpriced merchandise and snacks. So one of the easiest ways to save some money at a game is to avoid the concession stand at all costs. $12 beers and $8 hot dogs add up quickly.
Fill up on food before you hit the stadium. Have a few drinks at home before you head out. Hit the sports bar downtown on your way in. Whatever you gotta do. You could easily save $50 or more with this strategy.
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to have your outfit ready to go. We’re talking lucky socks, your favorite hat, that perfectly broken-in jersey – basically if it’s got your team’s colors throw it on.
We can’t guarantee a victory for your team, but if you stick to your game plan and stay under budget, you’ll head home with a financial win.