Taking your family to a game is expensive. According to the 2019 Fan Cost Index, which calculates the cost for a family of four to go to a game, park, eat, and buy souvenirs, the median cost to go to an NFL game is $540.42, the median cost for an MLS game is $250.42, and the median cost for an MLB game is $234.48. Rooting on your favorite college team can be expensive, too: A 2018 study found that the average Southeastern Conference (SEC) fan spends $1,212 per college football season on going to games. If they have to travel to the games and stay overnight, that number more than triples. Wow! These prices can make the average family feel like the fun of going to a game is out of their financial reach. However, if you apply a few frugal tricks to your game experience, you can drastically lower the cost and fit a fun outing into your family’s budget.
Find Free Tickets
Local professional sports teams sometimes offer free tickets to students, usually through their school. Check with your PTA or even call the community relations office of your favorite team and ask. Sometimes, the tickets are for all students, while other times, they are used as incentives for attendance, reading, or grades. Does your company sponsor a team? Ask your marketing office if that nets employees free tickets or substantial discounts. And keep in mind that sometimes, even if you have to pay for your own ticket, children can get in free. For instance, the Orioles ran a “children 9 and under attend games free” promotion in 2019.
Try Alternative Ticket Sellers
Once upon a time, your ticket-buying options were pretty much limited to Ticketmaster, buying your ticket at the stadium ticket counter, or buying tickets from scalpers on street corners around the stadium. But technology has given ticket-buyers and bargain-hunters new tools for scoring cheap seats. StubHub is perhaps the best-known of the reselling sites, but there are also many others. Do your research before clicking “buy” to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Get the App
Perhaps the most annoying part of buying tickets online is that once you add on service fees, the cost of a ticket can rise dramatically; that $15 deal can end up being $27.50 when you check out. The best way to avoid fees is to buy your tickets directly from the stadium. The second-best way is to download the app for the ticket service you’re using, which can help you avoid printing, will-call, or ticket mailing fees.
Skip the Biggest Games
Every team has rivals, and the games when they play their rivals are guaranteed to be some of the best-selling games of the season. Stadiums use dynamic ticket pricing to price their tickets according to the demand, meaning that games with high demand will have much more expensive tickets than when your favorite team plays a less popular opponent. And even less popular teams will let you watch superstars play: After all, Mike Trout plays for the Los Angeles Angels, not the New York Yankees.
Go at an Unpopular Time
The most popular football games are on Friday nights or during the weekend. A game played on Monday or Tuesday has much less demand, so the tickets are usually cheaper. Baseball games played in the afternoons on weekdays are far less popular than evening or weekend games, too. Another great way to enjoy a game and save money is to go to a preseason game. They’re usually much cheaper, and you’ll still get to see your favorite players in action.
Skip the Hot Dogs …
A single hot dog costs around $5 at most stadiums. That means that for just hot dogs, a family of four will spend $20. Some stadiums are now rolling back the cost of food and drinks: For example, Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium dropped its prices this season, charging just $1.50 for a hot dog now. But even so, eating before you head out to the game, can save you major money. Also, check the rules of your stadium, since some will allow you to bring your own food in with you to snack on during the game.
… And the Beer
Hot dogs are expensive, but beer is even more so. A single beer can range from $5 to $22.75 at an MLB game, so a couple of beers will quickly send your game spending spiraling. Skip the expensive stadium beer and enjoy a cold brew at home while you recap the game and the fun you had for your friends.
Avoid the Team Store
Everyone loves having a jersey or hat for their favorite team, but a visit to the team store is going to blow your game budget fast. Instead, prepare for the game by buying apparel or other souvenirs beforehand. Local big-box stores usually offer less-expensive branded jerseys and caps. If you really want to save money, hit up local thrift stores: It’s a great place to find jerseys and apparel for kids. Adults can also unearth treasures, including vintage game wear that shows that you’re not a bandwagon fan.
Go With a Group
Getting together a group of 15 or more people lets you take advantage of group discounts on tickets and might also net you some swag from the team. If you don’t have that many friends, talk to people at local businesses: Often, bars, sporting goods stores, or other merchants will be willing to help put together a group. Otherwise, reach out to your extended family, your children’s classmates and their families, or your coworkers for a group game night.
Embrace the Cheap Seats
Colloquially, the cheap seats are said to be located in the nosebleed section, meaning they are so high up that they will cause your nose to bleed. Let go of this old stereotype and embrace the cheap sections. Most of the fun of attending a game is just being there, getting into the spirit of the game with the crowd and cheering when your team takes the field. That fun is the same no matter where you sit. Plus, in newer stadiums, the cheaper sections have been designed to have much better sight-lines and give fans a better experience for their money.
Save on Parking
Parking your car can end up being one of the costliest parts of attending a game. However, some stadiums are surrounded by neighborhood lots, where local residents rent out their yards and driveways to game-goers. This is usually much cheaper than parking in the official lots. Sometimes, you can find great deals on parking in the official lots when you buy parking at the same time you purchase your tickets. But if you want to avoid this expense altogether, just use public transportation. Even if your stadium doesn’t have a nearby transit station, game days often have special shuttles dedicated to moving people quickly from mass transit to the stadium.
Look for Family Night
If you want your family to have the entire stadium experience, including hot dogs, good seats, and maybe even a close parking spot, check to see if the team offers family night promotions. Stadiums sometimes offer affordable package deals on these nights aimed at letting families of four enjoy a night out at a game. Not only will you save money, but knowing exactly how much you will spend on the game, since everything is included, makes it easier to work the game into your budget.
In some cases, we know that going to a game is out of your reach. It is important to always make healthy financial decisions, prioritizing necessities over luxuries, like live sporting events. When financial relief is needed, TitleMax may be able to help customers get the money they need by offering alternative lending solutions, including title loans and personal loans.