It's the season for America's favorite pastime: baseball! If you want to head to a ballpark on the cheap this year, you're in luck.
The economics of pro baseball are changing quickly, as player salaries skyrocket and TV deals fetch billions — and all of this affects what you pay to pass through the turnstiles. Indeed, getting a ticket deal is harder than it used to be. Follow these five tips, however, and you can save plenty of money on MLB tickets.
Team Up With Friends on Larger Packages
Purchasing a ticket package with like-minded baseball lovers will save you money — and get you access to premium games. Many teams will sell you a package of 20 games and still consider you a season ticket holder, with all the perks thereof.
Plus, if you purchase either a full season or a large package of games, that makes the price of individual games cheaper than if you bought single-game tickets. Most folks only want to go to a handful of games over the course of the season, though. So get a handful of your friends together, purchase a package, and have a ticket draft. This method allows you to split the tickets evenly and with a much lower cost per ticket.
Know When to Go
Another way to save money on baseball tickets is to head to the ballpark later in the season. Quartz did a great analysis of baseball ticket prices back in 2013, and found tickets are most expensive at the beginning of the season — on opening day in particular — and peak again in June. Catching the early-season games on television and heading to the stadium in August and September can save you a ton.
Quartz also found that going to midweek night games saves you money versus attending weekend games. As an example, the Miami Marlins reveal flash offers on Mondays for attending certain weekday games, and offer half-priced ticket Tuesdays to get folks to the park when they otherwise might not go.
Purchase Last-Minute Tickets
Waiting until game day to buy your tickets can be beneficial as well. Sites like StubHub, ScoreBig, and CheapTickets are worth scouring to score inexpensive seats. Many season ticket holders are willing to slash prices on the day of the game in order to make back some of their initial investment; their loss is your gain! This option makes particular sense for non-premium matchups.
One extremely last-minute possibility is purchasing tickets from a scalper right after the game has begun. Ticket prices fall dramatically once the game has started, and if missing the first few pitches isn't a big deal to you, you'll get in the building for less. So wait until the bottom of the first inning, and desperate scalpers will likely sell you their leftover tickets for very little. You might even luck out and score great seats behind home plate!
Note: Ticket reselling is a controversial practice, and 15 states restrict scalping in some way. Please check your state's scalping laws to make sure your purchase is legal before buying tickets.
Look for Special Seating Deals
Some teams offer specific deals that make it cheaper to attend games. For instance, the Atlanta Braves have provided $1 "skyline seats" that become available at the ticket office a few hours before games — although that deal won't be making the trip to their new suburban ballpark. Also, the San Francisco Giants have a free viewing area for about 75 fans at a time from their outfield fence. Keep your eyes peeled for any cheap viewing opportunities your team offers.
Buy Tickets That Come With Other Discounts
Some teams sell "all you can eat" tickets. If you like a good challenge, try to get your money's worth out of that! Alternatively, consider going on a night your team is giving away a coveted bobblehead. If you sell it on eBay or Craigslist, you might pay for most or all of your ticket! (Or, you can just keep the fun souvenir.)
Military members are also eligible for discounts at most ballparks, and this resource on Military.com keeps a record of what each team offers.
BONUS: Think About Food Beforehand
This doesn't apply to ticket prices per se, but can help you save big money on your trip to the ballgame. Many parks allow you to bring your own food. So grill hot dogs at home and wrap them in tinfoil or make PB&J's for the kids if your ballpark allows it. (Unfortunately, permitting outside food and drink is becoming less common, as management tries to boost profits from high-priced concessions.)
Other teams offer concession discounts for season ticket holders (a good option if you took advantage of our first tip), while still others have promotional nights offering $1 hot dogs or ice cream. MLB's Fan Value Corner is worth checking out to see which discounts your team offers.
Of course, discounts will be easier to come by for teams with worse records, larger ballparks, and more apathetic fan bases. You can assume that Boston Red Sox tickets will always be more expensive than Tampa Bay Rays tickets. But these tips should give every fan an avenue or two to consider before dropping big bucks on a couple of seats to root for their local team.
Readers, how do you save money when going to a ballgame? What discounts does your favorite team offer? Let us know in the comments below!