BALLGAMES ON A BUDGET
With 162 games in a season, baseball is the most economical of the big three professional sports. Still, the average price for a Major League Baseball ticket rose 3.3 percent to $28.94 in 2015, while the average premium ticket was $96.94, according to Team Marketing Report, a sports marketing publisher. Prices for any particular game depend on a variety of factors, including the day, time, and who is playing. Tickets for Opening Day, for instance, are among the priciest of the season. For the best deals on tickets this season, follow these 10 tips.
AVOID THE BIG NAMES
In 2015 the Boston Red Sox boasted the highest average ticket price ($52.34), followed by the New York Yankees ($51.55) and the Chicago Cubs ($44.81). When one of these high-profile teams comes to town, ticket prices tend to soar, even if they're facing a club such as the San Diego Padres, which posted the lowest average ticket price ($16.37). The takeaway: Avoid the marquee names (if they're not your team) and save money.
SEE A DAY GAME DURING THE WEEK
Baseball ticket prices follow the inexorable rules of supply and demand. Fans who can manage to attend a game while everyone else is stuck at work are sure to be winners when it comes to price. Tuesday and Wednesday day games tend to be the cheapest, although any weekday is cheaper than a day game on the weekend. Prices drop again on Sunday night as fans prepare for the week ahead.
TIME THE BUY
Buying tickets during the first few weeks of baseball season can be expensive, but prices quickly drop toward the end of April or in May. They pick up again over the summer and then plunge to their lowest levels toward the end of the season. Chris Matcovich, vice president of data communications at ticket aggregator TiqIQ, says prices fall an average 20 percent over the course of a season.
CHECK SECONDARY MARKETS
Online secondary markets such as StubHub and Vivid Seats offer a chance to buy verified secondhand tickets at a discount. Although added fees can sometimes negate any savings, and tickets to the most desirable games are likely to sell for more than their face value, there are savings to be had. Some sites offer a discount off a first purchase.
CHECK THE TEAM'S WEBSITE
Matcovich, from TiqIQ, says many major league teams use dynamic pricing technology. This means ticket prices posted on their websites automatically change in response to a variety of factors: weather, the starting pitcher, a winning or losing streak, and prices on other sites. Tickets on the team's official site may not be any more expensive than on third-party online marketplaces. Moreover, the team sometimes throws in free extras, such as vouchers for the concession stands, with tickets bought directly.
BE CAUTIOUS WITH RESELLERS
Buying tickets off Craigslist, eBay, or a scalper outside of the ballpark can yield big savings, especially if the seller is desperate to get rid of the tickets. But proceed with care. Check local laws and the team's policy to make sure reselling tickets is allowed. When buying tickets at the park, ask the seller to walk to the gate to confirm that the ticket is legitimate before handing over any money.
FIND SEASON TICKET HOLDERS
A friend or family member may be a season ticket holder and likely won't attend every game. Ask around and see if anyone has tickets they are looking to unload. Chances are they would rather let someone they know enjoy the seats than dispose of the tickets online.
It's a gamble, but after the first pitch there's a good chance prices will drop on secondary markets. Even if there aren't any scalpers nearby, many online marketplaces continue to sell tickets after the game has started.
CHECK DEAL SITES
Groupon, LivingSocial, Travelzoo, and other deal sites sometimes work with teams to offer discounted tickets. Fans may be able to buy tickets for more than half off or receive special bundle packages that include food, drinks, or other add-ons.
GET A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA
Whether it's a bobblehead, baseball cap, or fireworks show, giveaways and events are common at baseball games. Ticket prices don't necessarily rise accordingly, but arriving early may be necessary to get the free swag. Some teams even host free post-game concerts, a sweet deal for fans who are interested in the groups performing.