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The crack of the bat. The pop of the glove. The call from the umpire to “Play ball!” Who doesn’t love going to a baseball game? It’s an American tradition.
But if you’ve been to a game lately, you know one thing is true—it’s not cheap. The average ticket for a Major League Baseball game in 2011 cost $26.91. If you’re married and have a couple of kids, you’ll spend in the neighborhood of $100 just to get inside the gate. After parking and concessions, you may come close to doubling that amount.
With these prices, it’s not surprising that many families are giving up sporting events for cheaper outings. The good news is that some major sports franchises have taken notice of the financial crunch and dropped ticket prices. The bad news is that, according to CreditCards.com, some of these same teams are offering payment plans on season tickets. Sure, the plans are interest-free, but if you have to put something like that—a want, not a need—on a payment plan, you can’t afford it. Don’t fall into that trap.
Here’s more good news: With a little planning and budgeting, it is still possible to take the family to a game.
Seriously, you can do it. The key is to be patient and imaginative. Here’s how:
Wait for discount nights.
Most teams have discount nights throughout the season. Some teams even have “Family Nights” with packages that include tickets, parking and concessions. The Atlanta Braves had a “Dave Ramsey Dollar Night” last season with special $1 tickets. You just need to do your research and look for the deals. When the schedule comes out before the season, circle the discounted games on the calendar and begin saving up!
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You don’t have to buy tickets directly from the team. Check websites and online auctions like Ebay or Craigslist. If you choose to buy online, make sure you are buying from a reputable seller. Check their seller ratings and read the buyer feedback.
Sit in the upper level.
Whether you're going to a pro football, basketball, baseball or hockey game, one thing is certain when it comes to ticket prices: the higher you sit, the cheaper the tickets. If the average cost for a family of four to go to an NFL game is $300, then you could possibly buy the cheapest tickets for half of that cost. Think about it this way—you'll get plenty of exercise walking up all those steps!
Unless your team has the hottest ticket in town, chances are that there are thousands of empty seats at every game. Some tickets are never bought, but many have been purchased and simply aren’t used. Ask friends and coworkers if they know of anyone who has extra tickets. They may be willing to give you the tickets, or you can probably at least negotiate a good deal. The closer it is to the game, the more desperate they will be to sell their tickets.
Consider minor league teams.
Major League Baseball has a massive minor league system with teams all over the United States. Chances are, there is a minor league team in a city near you. Tickets to these games are much cheaper. Plus, you never know—you could be watching future superstars!
If you’re working through your debt snowball, consider if it’s worth it to spend a good portion of your entertainment budget on one game. That’s a question only you and your family can answer. Depending on ticket prices, one game could be the equivalent of two or three movie nights. It’s good to get away with the family and take a deep breath from the intensity of paying off debt, but $200 for a Yankees game probably isn't your best option.
Bottom line: You can go to a sporting event without busting your budget. But you have to be smart. Follow these tips to take your family out for an unforgettable night!
Creating a budget isn’t so scary. It just takes a little time and determination. Regardless of how your team is doing this year, you can win. We offer a free online budgeting tool to help you get control over what’s coming in and what’s going out, and an envelope system so you can stay on track at the ballpark and everywhere else. You can do it! We can help.