Sporting events on a budget: It's possible with a plan
Season ticket holder or first timer, watching your team take the field or visiting new teams in a different venue, gripping your seat tightly during the finger-biting last minutes of a close game or cheering on a decisive win — sports can certainly be some of the best entertainment possible.
Whether you enjoy baseball, football, soccer, hockey or any other sport, the roaring crowd, sights and smells that fill a stadium have something to offer everyone. A little planning can help keep your costs under control, and you can apply the ideas below to almost any sporting event.
Save money on the tickets. You may be sticking with your home team through thick and thin, but you can still look for ways to save money. Avoiding the most popular games, such as those on the weekends and when you're playing against big-name teams, can be help. To further maximize your savings, consider the following tips:
• Find tickets on reseller websites. Buying tickets from a scalper could save you money, but it also opens you up to the possibility of getting scammed. Instead, you could look for secondhand tickets on legitimate reseller websites that verify authenticity and guarantee your purchase.
• Connect with a season ticket holder. Try to connect with a season ticket holder who can't make a game and offer to buy their tickets. Even if they're going to the game, a season ticket holder might be able to get you a good deal. For instance, Major League Soccer (MLS) season ticket members can sometimes get a discount on additional tickets.
• Check for an employee discount. Some companies offer their employees discounted tickets to sporting events as a benefit. Government employees and current military members or veterans may also be eligible. However, sometimes you can only choose from a limited list of games.
• Join the fan club. Becoming a member of a team's official fan club can cost $20 to $40 a year and could more than pay for itself with discounts on tickets or gear and access to special events.
• Go during the preseason. Preseason tickets can be especially cheap. In 2016, you could buy preseason NFL tickets for less than $10. You may not get to see your favorite players on the field, but it you could still save money while spending quality time with your kids or friends.
• Try the minor league. A minor league game can be a fun alternative to a major league game. Some of the teams have an enthusiastic and loyal fan base and the stadiums are often smaller, which lets you get closer to the action. The extras, like parking and snacks, are often cheaper as well.
Timing your purchase can also be important. If you suspect a game will sell out, it may be better to buy early than risk having to pay above face value on a reseller site. With less popular games, ticket prices tend to drop as game day approaches.
Compare transportation options. Public transportation isn't a guaranteed money saver if you're going with a large group. Carpooling or splitting the cost of a ride from a car-sharing app could be cheaper. If you're driving, look for off-premises parking lots. You may need to walk a bit, but you'll also be able to save money and might avoid some of the post-game traffic.
Eat before and bring snacks. Everyone knows stadium food is expensive and filling up on a big meal before the game can help you avoid cravings. Unbeknownst to some fans, stadiums might let you bring in outside food. However, there's often a strict bag policy, which could limit the size of your bag and may require bags to be transparent. Check the stadium's policy closely and call the team's office if you need clarification.
Bottom line: A sporting event can be a wonderful way to build memories and spend a day with your friends or family. However, the expenses from a single game can quickly stack up if you're not careful. Luckily, there are many ways to save money on tickets, transportation and food and still have a memorable experience.