Ballgames on a Budget
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17 Tips for Scoring a Deal on Baseball Tickets

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Ballgames on a Budget
adamkaz/istockphoto

Ballgames on a Budget

With 162 games in a season, baseball is the most economical of the big three professional sports. Although the average price for a Major League Baseball ticket rose by 2.1 percent in 2019, the cost is still only $33 — on average, anyway. Take advantage of the following tips and you'll be prepared to score tickets on the low end of that average so you can truly afford a day at the ballpark. And be sure to check out our guide to the cost of a beer and a hot dog at every MLB park to find out how you can save even more during your visit. 

Louis DeNicola contributed to this story.

Related: 23 Sports Collectibles That Scored Big at Auction

Do Your Homework
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Do Your Homework

Saving money on tickets and a game experience in general starts with good planning on the part of the buyer, says Chris Hartweg, chief executive and publisher of Team Marketing Report, which gathers, analyzes, and reports on sports data and team marketing and trends. "There are two keys: Plan ahead, and do some research," he says. "Every team offers single-game deals, so as long as you’re not a procrastinator like me, you can always find ways to save money. Poke around the team’s website and see if they have deals for kids, families, or certain days of the week. Do a bit of Googling. From $1 hot dog Wednesdays to free kids Fridays, the deals are out there."

Take Advantage of Individual Team Deals
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Take Advantage of Individual Team Deals

Team promotions are part of why baseball remains the most affordable sport to watch. Some of the best current promotions include:

  • Baltimore Orioles “Kids Cheer Free”: Two children 9 and under are admitted free for every adult ticket bought in Camden Yards’ upper deck.
  • St. Louis Cardinals “First Pitch Ticket”: About 500 tickets are available every game day starting at 9 a.m. Buy a voucher for $11.20 per pair and you'll get an envelope with your tickets 15 minutes before the first pitch. Opening day is included, and since the deal often involves player ticket returns, seats can range from a field box to standing room only space.
  • New York Yankees: Ten-dollar grandstand tickets are available every game, as are numerous $15 Pinstripe Pass games. The Yanks also partner with MasterCard for $5 tickets, and there are several half-price dates.
  • Chicago Cubs: Twenty-four games — just under one-third — boast a get-in fee under $15. There's also the “10/60 Tickets” offering, which lets fans register 48 hours before each game for the chance at one of 60 lower-bowl seats for $10 each.


Check with individual teams and stadiums to see what offers might save you money.

Buy On Game Day
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Buy On Game Day

Most teams offer bargain-basement prices on game day to offload inventory and fill up seats, Hartweg says. In fact, TMR research reveals that the average 2019 MLB game day “get in” price is just over $13. The cheapest available is the Colorado Rockies’ Rockpile, which costs just $1.

There Will Be a Need for Separate Phones
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Check For App-based Mobile Deals

This year, the Oakland A’s launched a Family Pass for their new “Stomping Ground” space. The deal offers 81 home games for $399 for a family of four. That’s a ticket price of just $1.23 per person per game — and the A's are hardly alone in offering dramatic deals. "Almost every team has some variation of the monthly ballpark pass, at least for part of the season," Hartweg says. "It doesn’t help you for a one-off or weekend stay, but if you’re local, you’ll get into games — typically SRO — for an average of less than $5 per game."

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Avoid Big-Name Teams

As a general rule, the most popular teams are also the most expensive. People say that if the average fan can name the stadium they play in off the top of their head, you can expect to pay top dollar. In 2019, the Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park), The Chicago Cubs (Wrigley Field), and the New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium) are the priciest teams on the secondary market, coming in at $155, $141, and $133, respectively. On the other end of the spectrum are the Tampa Bay Rays (Tropicana Field), the New York Mets (Citi Field), and the Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ball Park), whose average 2019 tickets go for $42, $44, and $48, respectively.

Forget What You Paid Last Year
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Forget What You Paid Last Year

Don't assume that if you couldn't afford to see a Los Angeles Angels game last year that you won't be able to this year, or that because the White Sox were within reach in 2018 they'll be affordable again this summer. The Angels’ average ticket price on the secondary market dropped a whopping 77.8 percent over 2018 — one of three teams with price decreases of more than 50 percent. The average White Sox fan, on the other hand, will pay a full 33 percent more this year than last; Chicago is one of four teams whose tickets jumped more than 20 percent higher on the secondary market.

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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. "Monday through Thursday are going to be the best deals," Hartweg says.

Time the Buy
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Time the Buy

Buying tickets during the first few weeks of baseball season can be expensive, but prices drop quickly toward the end of April or in May — depending on the region, at least. "That is certainly true in Northern cities like Chicago, Detroit, or Minneapolis," Hartweg says. "After opening day for April and May is when it’s typically chilly and gray, plus school is still in session. That's when teams and resellers have a lot more inventory to unload."

Check the Team's Website Frequently
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Check the Team's Website Frequently

Many major league teams use dynamic pricing technology. This means ticket prices posted on their websites change automatically 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, teams sometimes throws in extras, such as vouchers for the concession stands, with tickets bought directly.

Find Season Ticket Holders
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Find Season Ticket Holders

Those friends or family members who are season ticket holders 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.

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Arrive Late

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 scalpers nearby, because many online marketplaces continue to sell tickets after the game has started. The value, however, depends on your feelings about cost vs. seeing the first pitch, the national anthem, team introductions, and all the other beginning-of-game goodies. "It's tricky to balance getting a great price and missing out," Hartweg says. "It's a fine line between being a hero with great seats in the ballpark, getting in but having buyer’s remorse, or missing out and dealing with disappointed kids and a spouse readying divorce papers."

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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 get special bundle packages that include food, drinks, or other add-ons.

Get a Little Something Extra
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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.

Tread Carefully In the Secondary Markets
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Tread Carefully In the Secondary Markets

Situated between a box-office purchase and parking lot scalpers is an often-shady and scam-ridden industry called the secondary market. It is possible to score deals on decent tickets to decent games through sites such as StubHub, SeatGeek, and Vivid Seats. But there are often steep markups on good tickets and in many cases, savings are gobbled up by a blur of fees and charges. If you're considering the secondary market, Hartweg suggests researching by browsing fan blogs (and using tools such as the TMR Fan Cost Index.)

Blogger
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Use Common Sense

The last thing you want to do is lose money to a grifter in the pursuit of saving a few bucks, so enter the buying process with a healthy dose of cynicism and don't be fooled by sleek, user-friendly websites. Marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO) can give shady dealers an air of credibility and high rankings in online search results. "Absolutely never ever just go online and buy from the first 'reputable-looking' broker you see," Hartweg says. "The greedy and unscrupulous folks can be savvy with SEO to draw you in and have no problems making sketchy claims on their sites."

Be Cautious with Resellers
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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.

Stick With StubHub
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Stick With StubHub

StubHub is the world's largest ticket marketplace. In 2017, it got another five years as the "Official Fan-to-Fan Marketplace" for MLB.

"I refuse to use a secondary site," Hartweg says. "Don’t like ’em and don’t trust ’em. Their whole purpose is to mark up and ideally gouge sports fans because of their passion for their team. Yuck. But if you must go that route, at least you know you’ll get legit tickets with StubHub, a team and league partner."