On Buying Baseball Tickets Online
Posted by Kurt Smith
Isn’t it great to be able to find baseball tickets for a ball game while still wearing a robe and drinking coffee? I remember when I was a younger Orioles fan and had to use the telephone or the box office, and that’s one thing I don’t yearn for when fans talk about the “good old days”.
The best part is the choices you have; you can buy baseball tickets through any of dozens of different outlets, and they have to compete for your entertainment dollar.
Since it’s part of my job to help you get the best deal on tickets, here’s a few options that you have on the Internet when buying, with some advantages and disadvantages of each.
1) The Team Website. All teams make tickets available on their websites, but they use different providers like Ticketmaster or Tickets.com, so the experience can be different with each. You can pick the actual seat with some of them; with most all teams you can see the view from your section.
Advantages: It’s the most trusted source for tickets; teams offer group tickets and multi-game packs; you can sign up for deals with newsletter alerts; you can see the view from your section and sometimes choose your exact seat; you can load tickets onto your smartphone with some teams; dynamic pricing generally favors people who buy early.
Disadvantages: Annoying surprise “fees” that jack up the cost; many times the best deal on tickets is elsewhere; and dynamic pricing increases cost of tickets when demand goes up.
When to use it: Use the team website when you’re getting high demand game tickets and are buying well ahead of time, or when you want to filter games by opponents or promotions. The team website is often the best way to select a game that suits you, but it’s not always the best deal.
2) StubHub. StubHub is the official ticket reseller for Major League Baseball (in case you’re like my brother and are asking “what the heck is StubHub”?). Some teams, like the Yankees and Cubs, don’t have an “official” relationship with them, but you can still get your baseball tickets there.
I use StubHub a lot, more than I use team websites, but that’s partly because it suits my purposes.
Advantages: As trustworthy a source as any and tickets are guaranteed; fees are included in the visible cost of the ticket rather than added after you click “Buy”; great deals can often be had for low demand games; you can select sections and price range as filters and see available tickets.
Disadvantages: Selection often isn’t as great as from the team website; demand can drive prices way up; significant fees, even visible, are still added to the cost of the ticket.
When to use it: Use StubHub for the best selection of tickets for medium or low demand games; often as the game nears the deals will be better there. Also use StubHub if you’re uneasy about other outlets, since it’s the official ticket marketplace for almost every team and the tickets are guaranteed.
3) SeatGeek (and other ticket search engines). I am a big fan of SeatGeek, and I’m not just saying that because they’re an affiliate of mine. SeatGeek searches dozens of third party ticket providers…VividSeats, RazorGator, Crowd Seats and many others, and it lists all of the available tickets for you…with a “Deal Score” that shows the value. When you click on “buy”, it takes you right to that website’s checkout.
Like with StubHub, SeatGeek will show you the full price with any provider’s fees included, so there are no surprises.
Advantages: Possibly the best deals you can find at set prices (although you should compare what’s available to StubHub); the “Deal Score” allows buyers to get the best value; buyers get an even better picture of the market than on StubHub.
Disadvantages: Some of the dealers listed on SeatGeek get less than stellar reviews, causing buying apprehension, although most are legit; StubHub and eBay aren’t SeatGeek partners, so one must compare; SeatGeek’s limitations don’t always allow it to include the fees in the cost.
When to use it: Try SeatGeek in comparison with StubHub; very often you will find better deals on SeatGeek, as I have many times. The risk is low, but Google the seller reviews if you’re concerned.
4) ScoreBig. If SeatGeek is the Expedia of ticket buying, then ScoreBig is the Priceline…ScoreBig allows you to choose an event and place a bid on tickets, and they will tell you how good your chances are of the bid being accepted. If the offer is not accepted, you are locked out of bidding on that seating area for 24 hours.
There are also no fees; the price you see is the price you pay.
Advantages: Buyers can decide exactly how much they want to pay; it’s an easy and worthwhile risk to try and beat the lowest price elsewhere.
Disadvantages: The bid is a commitment; if it is accepted the money is taken out of your account immediately; you also can’t pick your seat or row, only the actual seating area.
When to use it: If you’re not picky about what row you sit in, try ScoreBig to see if you can do better than other sites. Or try a low bid for the heck of it…you may get lucky and there’s nothing to lose.
5) Craigslist. Craigslist is like a modern classified section of the newspaper…sellers list their tickets and buyers contact them and arrange the exchange. I’ve said more about buying baseball tickets on Craigslist here.
Advantages: No fees for the service provided, making tickets cheaper; great deals can often be had with sellers desperate to unload tickets.
Disadvantages: No guarantees about the seller’s legitimacy; exchanges with strangers can be shady and even dangerous; buyer has no recourse with counterfeit tickets.
When to use it: When you’re feeling adventurous and are willing to take a chance for a great deal, Craigslist might work for you. It’s best to buy from season ticket holders, which you can verify through the team. I’ve talked more about Craigslist here, if you want a better understanding of the risk.
(SeatGeek logo courtesy of SeatGeek.)
That’s how much it cost a family of four to see a major league baseball game in 2016, according to the MLB Fan Cost Index.
Are you planning to see one, two, or ten live baseball games this season? Do you want to know ways to slash that ridiculous total, AND find a great seat, parking spot, and a tasty sandwich at the game?
Or would you rather keep paying more than you have to?