Ten Ways to Save Money at the Ballpark

Updated on May 10, 2019
Tom Lohr profile image

Tom Lohr is an avid baseball fan and has visited every Major League Baseball park . . . twice.

Kauffman Stadium
Kauffman Stadium | Source

The Ballpark is Calling You

Going to a major league baseball game is a rite of passage in America. It is the one sport that is pure Americana and plays a prominent role in our culture. Baseball used to be the game for the working class. Going to an major league baseball (MLB) game was not much more expensive than taking in a movie. There are a multitude of reasons why the cost of attending an MLB event has skyrocketed to the price of a mortgage payment (I am looking at you free agency fans), but debating the causes will not lower the price of a game any time soon.

It is a travesty more fans cannot afford to attend, but with proper planning you just might be able to fit a trip to the ballpark into your budget. There are ways to shave the associated costs of seeing an MLB game, but you need to be sly, savvy and willing to make a few sacrifices in order to grace the cathedrals of baseball with your presence. Here are the top ten tips for making a trip to the ballpark without having to take out a loan.

Source

1. Consider Who You are Taking to the Game

Are you planning on taking your children? Yes? Are they under the age of 10? Yes? Then take this opportunity to save the most money: don't go. Just don't. I have been to hundreds of games in the last decade, and sat within earshot of thousands of kids in their single digits. I would call them fans, but they aren't. If you take your kid to the ballpark it will fidget (and disturb nearby fans), want every item of junk food at the concession stand and want to spend most of the game at the kid's zone (why ballparks have these is another discussion). What you get at the end of the game is a child that is hyped up on too much sugar, cranky because it is past its bedtime (most games will run until 10pm), and a whopping credit card bill for tickets, food, parking and souvenirs. Additionally, you and your kid will have seen little of the game. Instead, take your kid to the park, let it play until it is tired and then swing by the local hot dog stand on the way home. Once your kid can name at least five starting players on your local team and explain the infield fly rule, then it is time to consider taking them to the ballpark.

2. Get to Know Dynamic Pricing

Know your team's pricing schedule inside and out. Several years ago, baseball introduced something called dynamic pricing. Basically, it prices tickets using a computer algorithm that results in the same seats being priced differently for certain games. It uses historical attendance to figure out which games will be in high demand and charges more to see those games. It is the basic law of supply and demand, but real baseball fans hate it. If you are planning to see a game, make sure you check the team website and figure out when games are the cheapest to see. As you might imagine, weekend games and games with rival teams tend to be the most expensive.

3. Get High...Really High

You probably already knew this tip, but sitting in the upper decks (also known as the cheap seats), is a great way to save. On a weekday Texas Rangers game for example, you can get close enough to smell the pine tar with a premium dugout seat....for $120. Or, you could opt to take the escalator and get a bird's eye view of the entire game in the upper reserved section for $17. Both seats see the same game, and frankly, I personally believe that higher is better. You can see everything develop. Unless there is a special player you want to heckle, sit up high and enjoy the savings.

4. Know the Specials

Know if the team has super cheap ticket specials. The Washington Nationals offer $5 grandstand tickets, with the caveat that they only go on sale a few hours before the game. That's one cheap MLB ticket. The Chicago White Sox have thirteen Sunday home games where upper level tickets are just $5. The bleacher seats at Coors Field in Denver cost a mere $4 ($1 if you are under the age of 12 or over 55). Not every team has these great bargains, but many do. Check with the ticket office.

5. Take Others Up On Their Generosity

Do you know what is better than cheap? Free. On occasion you can get a legit free ticket from the ticket office. The St. Louis Cardinals do this for veterans if you have identification that verifies veteran status. A few years back, the Tampa Bay Rays gave veterans free entrance for the second half of the season. If you are not a veteran, and need only one ticket, try this: show up at least an hour before game time and hang out by the ticket window, but far enough back that it seems you are looking over the ticket prices. If you spend the full hour doing this, there is a 50% chance you will be approached by someone looking to give away a ticket. They have an extra and they don't want to waste it. Take them up on their generosity. Most of the tickets I have received this way are upper deck seats, but I have on more than one occasion been gifted a seat that would have set me back over $100. At a few venues, for reasons unknown, it is illegal to give away a ticket for free. That policy sounds like something from the Soviet Union, but only once have I ever seen it enforced (I am talking to you Pawtucket Red Sox).

Source

6. Be Your Own Drink Vendor

Take your own water. Most baseball games are outside, and especially at day games you are going to get thirsty. Every MLB ballpark has water fountains, but by the time you get to it and wait in line to get a drink you will miss that grand slam that wins the game. Bottled water at the ballpark is the same as airport prices. Charging $3-6 for a bottle of water is called something...I think the term is price gouging. Instead of being held hostage by water pirates, take one or two empty water bottles from home, crush them flat and put the cap back on. Put the now flat bottles in your back pocket or purse. Once inside the ballpark, unscrew that cap, blow hard into the bottle to re-inflate it and then fill it up at the water fountain.

7. Fill Up Outside the Park

Eat before you go. Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros boasts some cheap eats. About $4.50 for a hot dog and $6 for a beer. A beer and a dog, time tested ballpark fare. But get that hot dog with chili or one of the specialty dogs and the prices increase dramatically. As it is, you would need to eat at least two hot dogs for a meal, and that beer is likely a small domestic tap beer, something putrid like Budweiser. Two dogs and two beers will set you back at least $21, add at least $10 to that if you want a craft beer and decent sized dogs. Instead, you could eat before the game at Ninfa's Mexican restaurant. You could chow down on spicy pork tacos AND a good tasting beer for about $20. Your stomach will thank you later. But it gets better. Customers at Ninfa's can park there for free and take their shuttle to the ballgame (it is also walkable). Not all, but many, ballparks afford you the option of eating close by before heading for the turnstile. The food will be cheaper and you get bigger portions of great food for less than it costs to eat in the ballpark. Several local pubs also offer free parking and a shuttle for customers, saving you even more money. Do your research.

8. Park Away From the Stadium

Speaking of parking, where you park your car can save you a ton of money. Wrigley Field in Chicago has no official parking lot, but locals will let you park in their driveway or yard very close to the stadium...for about $40. That kind of money will fill up most gas tanks. Parking on a nearby street is a no-no because Chicago is one of those cities that makes residents obtain a sticker that allows them to park in their own neighborhood. Park there without this decal that identifies you as a member of the hood and you risk being towed. But, a little more than a mile a way there are no such restrictions. You can park absolutely free. It's about a 20-30 minute walk each way to the ballpark, but I would crawl a mile through broken glass to save $40. Put the Google Maps app on your phone and note where you parked. It will likely be dark when you return to your car (the neighborhoods are safe in that area), and navigating could be tricky. Most baseball venues have free or cheap parking options that are not affiliated with the stadium There is a guy on the inter-web that figured out all of the nifty places to park at each ballpark, check out his website at ballparksavvy.com. With few exceptions, if you are willing to walk a bit, you can park for free.

Source

9. Think Smaller

Redefine your definition of baseball. Most fans think of attending an MLB game when heading to the ballpark comes to mind. But for every MLB team, there are at least three minor league baseball (MiLB) farm clubs. That adds up to 90 minor league teams scattered about the United States when accounting for each team's AAA, AA, and A clubs in their farm system. Toss in lower A and short season teams and it is well over 100. While attending an MiLB games will not guarantee an MLB level of play, those games are full of young, hungry ballplayers that offer some exciting diamond action. Parking usually costs $5 or is free, good tickets for $15 or less are common, and getting to and from the ballparks is much less of a hassle. Many teams also have regular post-game fireworks shows that toss in some extra entertainment value for your dollar. Food is not at MLB prices, but still quite expensive, so you should still either eat before you go to an MiLB game or tailgate it in the parking lot.

10. Enjoy the Game at Home

Give baseball the Hollywood treatment. Attendance in movie theaters across America have been on the decline for quite a while. There are several reasons for this, but the main issue is cost. Going to the movies for a family has become a pricey event. With high definition big screen TVs bolted to nearly every living room wall in America, a short wait after theatrical release allows the entire family to see a flick for the small cost of a DVD or streaming rental. And they never have to leave the house. If you and your family love baseball consider getting a yearly MLBTV subscription. You can watch EVERY MLB game live with the exception of local blackout restrictions (which all MLB fans hate). If you follow your local team, you will not be able to watch it live, but if you can wait 45 minutes after the game has ended you can watch it on the replay function. You can also choose to listen to any MLB game radio broadcast without blackout restrictions. An MLBTV subscription is about $120 a year, which is about what you would pay for a family outing to the ballpark. The network also offers a steep veteran's discount if you have proper documentation.

Put Your Butt in the Bleachers

Baseball is America's pastime. Every citizen should have the fiscal means to attend at least one game a year; it's our patriotic duty. Using the aforementioned tips, your trip to the ballpark doesn' have to break the bank. I'll see you in the cheap seats.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)