Should I Do The Ballpark Tour?

MLB Ballpark Guides


Should I Do The Ballpark Tour?

Posted by Kurt Smith

I remember, when Camden Yards first opened, reading in brochures that the Orioles offered a ballpark tour. I remember thinking that it didn’t seem like something I’d be interested in, because at the ballpark I want to see a game. A pitching matchup. Home runs. Stolen bases. Extra innings. If you can’t root for the home team while eating peanuts and crackerjack, then why go to the ballpark?

ballpark tour orioles

The logo that preceded Camden Yards.

But for the purposes of what I do helping baseball fans, I decided some time ago that ballpark tours would be helpful; I could get some great photos, have access to places I normally can’t afford, and maybe even learn a thing or two, and get any questions answered that I might have.

The first ballpark I took a tour of was Fenway Park in Boston. My wonderful wife Suzanne had given me Red Sox tickets for my birthday, the best birthday gift ever, and on our trip I convinced her to take the tour with me for the aforementioned reasons.

The Fenway Park tour starts in the Team Shop on Yawkey Way, where the tour guide starts off by asking if there are any Yankees fans in the group. Inevitably there are and they will, of course, proudly declare themselves, to which the guide will respond, “Okay, I’ll talk very slow for you.” And the tour continues in that vein, with the guide taking humorous shots at the Yankees throughout.

As I said, I didn’t think I’d consider a ballpark tour all that much fun. And I was totally wrong. The Fenway tour got me addicted to ballpark tours, and I take the tour whenever I can in different cities. You learn about the ballpark’s history, stories of historic events that have happened there, and how certain parts of the ballpark like the Green Monster came to be. You get to see the field from several angles, often including the press box or the suites.

Most times you can sit in the home team’s dugout (I don’t know why that’s such an essential part of almost every ballpark tour, it’s not a big deal to me, but people love it). The tour guide will inevitably give people in the group a chance to show off their knowledge of baseball…and often little kids will answer their questions.

ballpark tour fenway

Fenway quiet and peaceful, as it is rarely seen.

But here’s the best part of a ballpark tour, something I never gave much thought to before doing it: you get to see a baseball field in the morning. I know that doesn’t sound exciting, but there’s a wonderful peaceful charm to it, especially on a bright summer morning. It’s quiet. Grass is getting watered or mowed. Maybe a fence is being repaired in the outfield.

You think about what goes on behind the scenes and start to realize that hundreds of people put in thousands of hours of work to prepare the ballpark for the madhouse it’s going to become that evening. There is something about being in a ballpark in the morning that appeals to the types that hear voices telling them to build a baseball diamond in their cornfield.

Since Fenway I’ve toured a total of…let me get my slippers off here…fourteen ballparks. Of them the Wrigley tour may have been the most entertaining, simply because there is so much history and so much that people don’t know, and you get to sit in the bleachers. But all the tours are fun; PNC Park in Pittsburgh and Miller Park in Milwaukee were especially neat and full of stopping points.

At Progressive Field in Cleveland, and later at Nationals Park in D.C., I had the good fortune of being the only person taking the tour at that time, and I had a very enjoyable time talking with the tour guide. It’s nice when you can move at your own pace.

Going to a ballpark for a game, of course, is one of life’s greatest pleasures at any age. But going for a ballpark tour on a beautiful summer morning is a wonderful experience in its own way, and I highly recommend it, especially if you’re visiting a ballpark in another city.

 

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Baseball Fan Mistakes I Used To Make

Posted by Kurt Smith

Since I’ve started researching everything there is to know about various baseball venues in the quest to help the non-affluent baseball fan, I’ve learned a lot. Some things have saved me money, some things have saved me time, and some things have saved me a lot of aggravation.

Even I still don’t always get it right going to a game, but I’ve definitely learned to avoid certain pitfalls. Here’s a list of four mistakes I used to make in my misspent youth…

 

baseball tickets website address white sox

Just in case your search engine is busted.

Baseball Fan Mistake #1: Buying tickets from the team website. By itself, this isn’t always the worst thing to do. Many teams, like the Brewers and Nationals, offer pretty good ticket deals on their websites, and buying from the team at face value can be your best option for a high demand game.

But over the years I could have saved a TON of money by exploring all of the other options…like StubHub, eBay and other third parties (especially now that SeatGeek is a help with that), checking to see if there are sites like Travelzoo that offer deals, or simply buying from the team box office. I can easily stop at the box office in Philly since it’s close; most games aren’t sold out and you can find some seats on game day and pay the ticket without the obnoxious fees. Game day ticket sales are very popular at Fenway in Boston too.

On third party sites like StubHub, you can choose the exact section you want to sit and see what is available and the pricing. Teams are getting better at this, though. Many teams have seating maps that show the exact seats that are available, which is even better than StubHub. Remember though, you’re still paying the ticket fees.

 

parking at fenway park prudential center

12 minutes to Fenway by foot. If you walk hastily.

Baseball Fan Mistake #2: Not looking into all my transportation options. Just driving to the ballpark and hoping to find a good parking spot is not a great strategy, and will likely result in your fuming at both the traffic and the cost of parking. I have had many a ballgame experience at least temporarily marred by this frustration, especially when visiting a ballpark for the first time.

I used to be able to tolerate the traffic on downtown Baltimore when I was able to park in a garage for $5, but since they’re nowhere near that cheap anymore, I just use the Light Rail if I’m by myself and park for free in Lutherville. With other people, I’ll use ParkWhiz.

In my first visit to Comerica Park in Detroit, I paid $20 to park almost at the front door, because I was concerned about leaving my car too far away in Detroit. This was 2001 money, so $20 was a lot to park. In my second visit a year later, I accidentally stumbled on a cool tip, parking at the Fox Theatre garage much earlier in the day and paying just $2 for the whole night. And it was just a few steps further away. (It’s $5 today, if you get there early enough.)

I drove my car to Citi Field once too. Once.

 

food at citi field two boots pizza

Not just pizza. Grandma Joan pizza!

Baseball Fan Mistake #3: Just getting a hot dog at the game. OK, maybe that’s not really a mistake. Nowhere does a hot dog taste better. But until researching Citizens Bank Park…and this is my home ballpark…I didn’t know about the roast pork and provolone from Tony Luke’s, the Campo’s Heater sandwich, the Schmitter, or the Bull Dog from Bull’s BBQ. Seriously. And I wouldn’t have a clue what Federal Donuts was. Talk about missing out.

Nowadays every ballpark has so many great food choices that it’s worth checking it out beforehand and deciding what you might like. At ballpark prices, don’t just get a simple hot dog and popcorn. Next time you’re at Citi Field, try Josh Capon’s Bash Burger. Or the garlic fries at Yankee Stadium. Don’t leave PNC Park in Pittsburgh without trying a Primanti Bros. sandwich with fries and slaw piled on. And a Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke at Nationals Park is worth the price of a Nats game ticket.

 

how to save money at the ballpark rounding third

I’ll take one wing please.

Baseball Fan Mistake #4: Not knowing about the local scene. For years I bought one beer at Camden Yards because I didn’t want to (and still don’t) pay ballpark prices for beer. I literally did not know that I could knock down a couple of cheap Natty Bohs across the street at Slider’s before the game. I made two visits to Cincinnati to see Reds games without having any clue about the restaurants and nightlife across the river in Newport. There’s a great bunch of eateries near E. 4th Street in Cleveland, just a short walk from Progressive Field.

And would you believe I didn’t even notice the tailgating party in my first trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee? Nor did I know about the large number of taverns that would have given me a ride to the game.

 

Knowing what I know now, I suppose it’s a testament to how much of a baseball fan I am that I enjoyed the games anyway. Dad taught me well.

But it’s so much better now that I know what I’m doing. And I can always refer to one of these.

 

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FREE PDF for traveling baseball fans! (That would be you.)

Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

You’ll also score this PDF, listing some of Kurt’s favorite sites for traveling baseball fans, absolutely free of charge…just for stepping up to the plate and subscribing.

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Um Bate-Papo com “Baseball Joe” – O maior fã de beisebol que existe

Posted by Kurt Smith

Eu conheci o Joe Vogel em 12 de Junho de 2016, enquanto me encontrava com um amigo e companheiro de viagem Dan Davies e o seu grupo de amigos viajantes que me convidaram para ir com eles para Pittsburgh.

Estava um dia perfeito no maravilhoso PNC Park enquanto os Pirates se preparavam para uma batalha de fim de tarde contra os Cardinals.

Naquele dia, porém, beisebol não era a única coisa na mente dos fiéis torcedores dos Bucs.

Sidney Crosby e os Penguins estavam em San Jose naquela noite, prontos para trazer a quarta Stanley Cup para a cidade. Eles realmente fizeram isso algumas horas depois que o jogo de beisebol terminou. Uniformes, camisas e bonés dos Penguins eram vistos em grande número para uma plateia de beisebol.

Em certo ponto, durante o jogo, um jovem torcedor fez uma “zueira”: apareceu com uma Stanley Cup de papel laminado, quase em tamanho natural e passeou com ela orgulhosamente por uma seção do estádio no “right field”. Ele foi aplaudido de pé pelos que estavam assentados por ali.

Mas, apesar de ser um nativo de Pittsburgh, Joe Vogel não estava gostando nada daquilo.

Sem aviso, como se o dever o chamasse, ele salta da sua cadeira no “Right Field Cove” (uma seção específica de assentos no PNC Park) e desaparece no meio das arquibancadas. Segundos depois, ele era visto andando ali perto de onde estava o cara que carregava a taça. Para grande diversão dos seus amigos do “Cove”, Vogel passou vários minutos numa busca determinada por aquele cara que, a esta altura, já estava longe há muito tempo.

O riso na seção do Vogel aumenta à medida em que a sua busca determinada continua muito além do tempo que aquela situação merecia. Porque após várias entradas sentados com aquela figura, eles sabiam exatamente porque ele estava atrás daquele orgulhoso fã de hóquei.

Era para envergonhá-lo. Para olhar para ele com uma cara feia. Para educar aquele jovem rapaz sobre as prioridades.

Isso, porque o “Baseball Joe Vogel” vai sempre deixar claro que só o beisebol importa. Todos os outros esportes são perda de tempo.

baseball joe pirates

O único torcedor que pode jogar uma bola de beisebol pela área do estádio sem enfrentar problemas.

“Baseball Joe” é surdo e mudo em função de 3 derrames debilitantes. Ele se comunica através de gestos e sinais de mão, com um pequeno teclado, ou um pequeno alfabeto num pedaço de papel dobrado.

Ele mora num apartamento no centro de Pittsburgh pertinho do PNC Park, atravessando a ponte Roberto Clemente. Beisebol, especialmente o beisebol dos Pirates, é a sua vida. E assim tem sido desde que ele era um garoto. Ele se auto proclama “o maior fã de beisebol que existe” e até agora, no meu quase meio século de existência, eu ainda não encontrei alguém tão fanático por baseball quanto Joe… nem mesmo o meu pai, que considerava ser o maior fã desse esporte.

Os Pirates o conhecem bem. Ele vez por outra joga e apanha umas bolinhas com o técnico Clint Hurdle e até mesmo o aconselha algumas vezes por e-mail. Cortesia de um time que ama a sua dedicação, ele tem ingresso de sócio torcedor e vai a todos os jogos na seção coberta para portadores de necessidades especiais que fica no campo direito, embaixo da arquibancada, pois não consegue ficar no sol durante muito tempo. Ele, talvez, seja o único torcedor no PNC Park que não liga para aquele cenário pitoresco da cidade.

Sentado com ele, é quase impossível prestar atenção ao jogo, especialmente num dia em que os rebatedores adversários começaram com tudo contra os arremessadores dos Pirates, como os Cardinals naquela noite. “Baseball Joe” é tão divertido quanto a ação em campo… constantemente conversando com espectadores ao seu modo, pacientemente se comunicando com o seu teclado ou o seu surrado pedaço de papel quando as pessoas têm dificuldade de entender os seus gestos. Ele carrega uma bola de beisebol que ele frequentemente joga para funcionários que, casualmente, a jogam de volta pra ele, conhecendo o procedimento habitual. Durante o jogo, empregados de outros times aparecem para cumprimenta-lo. Ele constantemente ganha souvenires e parece ter um suprimento sem fim de copos de refrigerante colecionáveis, um dos quais, ele dividiu comigo.

Ao longo da noite, risadas são ouvidas na seção onde estávamos tanto pelo seu conhecimento do beisebol quanto por suas duras críticas aos torcedores que não respeitavam o jogo o suficiente.

Em um certo ponto, ele me pergunta se eu gosto de algum outro esporte. Esquecendo-me do seu desdém por aquele fã de hóquei eu falei pra ele que eu gosto de NASCAR também e ele balançou a cabeça. Ele fingiu estar dirigindo um carro, depois olhou pra mim com cara brava e fez o símbolo de “vergonha” com os dedos. Depois, segurou a bola de beisebol e fez um movimento circular com o dedo. Eu, então, entendi: “Beisebol o ano todo”.

Durante toda a noite, ele nunca parou. Com o seu teclado ele mandou várias perguntas sobre beisebol pros seus amigos, como “Cite dois jogadores no Hall da Fama que tenham o mesmo primeiro e segundo nomes.” Um sabichão no grupo responde com um tom pedante como se estivesse certo da resposta: “Ken Griffey Senior and Ken Griffey Junior!”.

Enquanto o resto do grupo gargalhava, Joe sorri, vira pra mim e informa: Henry Louis Aaron and Henry Louis Gehrig, or Joseph Paul DiMaggio and Joseph Paul Torre.

Mais tarde, Dan, que levou Joe com ele e seu grupo a vários estádios da liga e ao Hall da Fama, me contou a história de ele arrasando nas enquetes feitas por lá. Se houvesse uma edição de beisebol do “Jeopardy” (jogo de perguntas e respostas muito famoso nos EUA), “Baseball Joe” ganharia de qualquer adversário.

PNC Park Front gate

A casa do Baseball Joe

“Baseball Joe” detém o título de ser o primeiro fã a pedir o meu autógrafo, pelo menos como um autor de livros sobre beisebol.

Num jogo dos Pirates, ele me pediu para enviar pra ele o guia digital do PNC Park autografado. Ele também me deu instruções precisas: “certifique-se de assinar com o seu nome completo, incluindo o nome do meio e o faça em ordem”, coisa que eu não estou acostumado a fazer já que a minha assinatura é um garrancho horrível. Ele é um perfeccionista, especialmente no que diz respeito ao beisebol.

Joe amou o “e-guide” do PNC PARK e delirou sobre ele num e-mail… uma medalha de honra pra mim… mas ele também fez algumas sugestões: falar um pouco mais sobre os assentos, incluir mais fotos nos espaços em branco e, talvez, falar um pouco mais sobre a comida e outras coisas. Ele é a primeira pessoa a reclamar comigo dizendo que não há informações SUFICIENTES num “e-guide”.

Ele tem me pedido repetidamente para enviá-lo guias sobre o Wrigley Field e o Busch Stadium in St. Louis (este último eu ainda vou escrever). Eu sempre fico feliz quando tenho plateia.

citizens bank park philly

O lado oeste do Citizens Bank Park.

Alguns dias depois daquela experiência em Pitsburgh, eu me encontrei com o “Baseball Joe” e o grupo de novo, dessa vez no Citizens Bank Park, na minha cidade natal, Filadélfia. Eu arrumei pra eles um lugar para estacionar o carro de graça e me assentei com eles no andar superior na hora do jogo. Durante a noite, Joe, novamente, me manteve mais entretido do que a ação em campo.

Eu contei pra ele que eu torço pros Orioles e ele levantou os dedos. Primeiro um sete e depois um um. Eu logo saquei. A World Series de 1971. Os Pirates sobre os Orioles em sete jogos. Eu tinha três anos.

Então ele fez um “7” e um “9” com seus dedos. 1979. Os Pirates, liderados por Pops Stargell, viraram uma série que estava 3 a 1 para, mais uma vez, baterem os Orioles em sete jogos. Minha reação foi tombar a minha cabeça e fingir enxugar as lágrimas dos meus olhos, ilustrando a decepção de um pequeno torcedor dos Orioles de 11 anos. Eu não dancei NUNCA MAIS “We Are Family”, informo a ele. (Em 1979, quando os Pirates ganharam a World Series, eles se uniram, porque a mãe do técnico Chuck Tanner tinha morrido. Então, eles adotaram a música “We Are Family” do trio Sister Sledge como música tema.)

Ele acena com a cabeça, entendendo. Ele também faz o gesto de esfregar os olhos mencionando o péssimo desempenho dos Pirates por tantos anos.

Ele me pergunta qual o meu jogador preferido e, quando eu digo Cal Ripken Jr, ele rapidamente traz com o seu teclado uma estatística pra mim: “A média de aproveitamento mais baixa de um jogador com 3000 rebatidas.”

Quando eu mostro pro Joe uma foto da minha filha posando com bichos de pelúcia vestidos com uniformes de beisebol que eu trago pra ela das minhas viagens ele brevemente digita no teclado e me mostra: “Você é abençoado. Eu não tenho família.”

Eu instantaneamente me senti não só triste por ele, mas também culpado por alguma eventual insatisfação que eu sinto com a minha própria vida. Ele está certo. Eu sou muito abençoando. Eu não só tenho duas crianças lindas e saudáveis, eu ainda tenho tempo para o único esporte que importa.

baseball joe

O maior fã de beisebol que existe.

Muito depois que a multidão deixou o Citizens Bank Park naquela noite, “Baseball Joe” conseguiu deixar alguns funcionários sem jeito, já que resolveu sair da parte dos assentos somente depois de juntar tantos copos de refrigerantes de coleção, quanto ele podia. Dava pra ver claramente a agitação crescendo nos olhos deles enquanto eles antecipam o confronto (Ao fim de qualquer jogo nos EUA passado algum tempo, os funcionários começam a impedir que se transite ou até mesmo se permaneça dentro do estádio). Joe parece ignorar à aproximação da “polícia do estádio”, mas ele sai da área dos assentos no exato momento anterior em que o funcionário começar a ficar irritado. Ele é um expert nisso.

De volta ao hotel em que eles estavam hospedados, “Baseball Joe” e eu posamos para uma foto e ele me surpreendeu com um grande abraço! Aparentemente, eu deixei uma boa impressão. Eu fiquei feliz que ele não se chateou comigo por eu ter mostrado a ele as minhas fotos de família.

“Baseball Joe” e eu trocamos e-mail com frequência. Nos seus e-mails o assunto é quase sempre Beisebol. 24 horas por dia. 7 dias por semana. 366 dias por ano – se assegurando para não perder nem mesmo o dia extra do ano bissexto. Seus e-mails são geralmente breves, mas sempre muito atenciosos, desejando “bom feriado” para minha família e pra mim, me pedindo para mandar mais “e-guides” quando eu puder e dividindo comigo seus pensamentos sobre o destino dos Pirates. Logo depois que o time de Pittsburgh não foi para os Playoffs em 2016, ele me mandou um e-mail escrito: “Pirates eliminados – eu choro.” Por 33 anos e contando, esse fã dos Orioles sabe bem o que é isso.

Eu sempre fico feliz quando tenho notícias do “Baseball Joe”, porque sempre que eu penso nele, ele está certo. Outros esportes são perda de tempo.

E “Baseball Joe” sabe como ninguém que o nosso tempo é muito valioso para ser desperdiçado.

 

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Save Money At The Ballpark…Got $219.53?

Posted by Kurt Smith

Here is the challenge for people who want to save money at the ballpark…look at this number:

$219.53.

That’s how much it cost to take a family of four to a Major League baseball game in 2016, according to the MLB Fan Cost Index. Four average price tickets, two beers, four soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking one car, and two souvenir caps will set you back over $200. For one game. Eye-popping, isn’t it?

And that’s just the league average—that’s what, say, Tigers or Mets fans pay.

how to save money at the ballpark 60 dollar parking

Anyone got a fifty?

For a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, that number jumps to $360.66. Yankee Stadium? $337.20. Want to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field? That’ll be $312.32, please…and that was before they won their first World Series in 108 years.

It’s as if they know just how much we’ll pay…and then push the envelope beyond that at every turn.

Baseball is a business that is well aware of fans’ emotional attachment to the game. You can’t blame them. Writers, actors, and singers all have agents negotiating huge contracts too. It’s in demand, so the price is tall.

And so where does that leave you, the dedicated fan of live baseball? Shelling out $219.53, enough for a comfortable piece of furniture, to borrow four small metal seats for a few hours.

how to save money at the ballpark seats citi

Angled properly, but still not all that comfortable.

But what if I shared tips with you that can shave $30, $50, or even $100 or more off of that total?

What if I showed you ways to save sometimes 25% or more on tickets, pay far less for hot dogs and sodas, and find souvenir hats for half of what the team store wants for them? Not to mention much cheaper places to park your car…even free spots?

Wouldn’t it be nice to know all the ways to save money at the ballpark…to the tune of $30, $40 or $50 or more…at your next ballgame? At every game?

If there was a complete guide full of money-saving tips at your home ballpark or a ballpark you planned to visit, you’d want to read it, right?

“Since I’m planning to visit Washington, I got my hands on Kurt’s guide for Nationals Park — and let me tell you, it is THOROUGH. I thought I knew D.C. well, but I’ve already found quite a few nuggets of info in the guide that I’m looking forward to testing for myself. Look in particular for the “Tightwad Tips”…in which he offers money-saving tips that you might not otherwise know about.”
– Edward de la Fuente, The Itinerant Fan
Click here for more rave reviews

how to save money at the ballpark vendor camden

The ballpark happy meal.

Here’s just one example: Do you know that most all major league ballparks will let you bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into the ballpark? Why pay $5 for a soda when you can get them for $1 at a nearby drugstore? That’s $16 in savings for a family of four right there. Not to mention what you’ll save buying a bag of peanuts from the nice folks at the nearby church…possibly another four or five bucks.

Already you’ve saved $20. And I’m just getting warmed up.

At every ballpark, there are secrets that insider fans know about saving money…here are just a few examples I’ve found while in specific ballparks:

baseball tickets craigslist

PNC in Pittsburgh allows fans to sell extras.

Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #1: Several ballparks have scalp-free ticket selling zones where fans unload extras sometimes at face price or lower. Finding someone with an extra ticket can be a steal for you.

 

how to save money at the ballpark nats 401

You can sit in these sections very cheaply.

– Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #2: There are often ticket specials offered by teams for low demand games, like mid-week or April games. Some teams offer $5 tickets or even a free drink with your ticket.

 

how to save money at the ballpark rounding third

And the wings are pretty good, too.

– Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #3: Many baseball cities have restaurants nearby where a family can park for free, enjoy an inexpensive meal and get a ride to the ballpark. It’s a great way to save cash on both parking and food.

 

how to save money at the ballpark wrigley express

Definitely beats the Wrigley parking price.

– Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #4: In some cities you can find affordable commuter transit service that allows you to avoid ballgame traffic coming from the suburbs and save a bunch of dough on parking.

 

how to save money at the ballpark alley hour

The smart fans are already here.

– Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #5: Some ballparks feature discounts on food when the gates first open. Several teams do this, and it’s a great money-saver, especially for families.

 

how to save money at the ballpark street cart

Street meat.

Save Money At The Ballpark, Tip #6: Almost every big city ballpark has outside vendors that sell bigger hot dogs and quality T-shirts for often half the price that the team is asking. (See the previous paragraph… you can bring in your own food!)

It’s not just about saving money, by the way…you want to get value for what you do spend, too. From picking a seat to getting there to picking a sandwich, you have a lot of decisions to make.

I’m here to help.

“Kurt Smith has left no stone unturned. From transportation to seat selection to food and drink and where to get the best deals, you can find the answer in his Ballpark E-Guides.”
– Scott Ableman, Let Teddy Win
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

I have spent a ridiculous amount of hours researching these things at 15 major league ballparks. I’ve learned a little bit, especially about saving money.

Whenever a friend or family member needs advice about Camden Yards or Citizens Bank Park or Yankee Stadium, they ask me what to do. I help them get great seats for a great price, find the best spot to park, tell them what to eat at the game and where to celebrate afterward. They always have wonderful things to say about the experience, which makes me happy, of course.

Besides, I’m a fan who likes to travel to see baseball too. Before I started doing this, I wasted a LOT of money seeing live baseball…in Philly, in Baltimore, and on every ballpark road trip I went on. Today I not only spend much less than I used to for live baseball, I’m happy to help friends and family do it too.

“I live in NJ and recently planned a trip to see an Orioles game for my husband’s birthday…I used the E-Guide for everything from buying tickets to prepaid parking. I especially loved the Tightwad Tips. We had a blast!

This is a great guide and I will be using Ballpark E-Guides next year for my trip to Boston and Fenway Park!”
– Laurie B., Somerdale, NJ
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

Unfortunately, I can’t hire myself out as an “Official Baseball Fan Consultant”. I have a full-time job and two kids, so as much as I would love to, I can’t take the time to help you over the phone. I’d bore you anyway.

But I have written 15 Ballpark E-Guides, for great ballparks like PNC Park, Wrigley Field, Fenway Park and Camden Yards among many others…and I’ve put every little nugget of helpful money-saving ballpark knowledge I could find in them to help you get the best deal on tickets, parking and food.

Earlier in this post I said I could shave $100 off of that average total cost of a game. I’m not exaggerating that, because I know…I’ve learned a few ways to save money at the ballpark myself.

Here are just a small few examples:

how to save money at the ballpark yankee sign

The many ways to spend money at Yankee Stadium.

– I recently paid $27 for four Yankees tickets, including fees. According to the Index, that should be $206. Almost $200 in savings!

 

cheap red sox tickets

This way to very good seats.

– I also recently ordered a Red Sox ticket for a friend. For a Friday night game in June at Fenway, I found him a Loge Box seat, in the third row, almost directly behind home plate…for $83 with fees. That ticket’s face price was close to $140…a savings of $57.

 

how to save money at the ballpark comerica

The view from a $2 parking spot.

– I’ve parked for $2 across the street from Comerica Park in Detroit—the Index says that should be $20. (I told people this story for weeks!) It’s $5 to do this now, but for the location it’s still a great deal.

 

foxwoods club Citi Field

A sandwich tasty enough to be exclusively offered to Foxwoods Club patrons.

– Citi Field in New York has numerous clubs with superb food selection; I’ve been able to access the Porsche Grille and the Foxwoods Club (featuring the amazing steak pizzaiola hero shown here) with a ticket that cost me just $24.

 

how to save money at the ballpark garrison

This dog is something like $10 CAD.

– I’ve paid $4 for an sizable hot dog loaded with toppings outside of Rogers Centre in Toronto that would have cost close to $10 inside. Nothing makes you feel smart like street meat!

 

how to save money at the ballpark larosas

Thank you Mat Latos!

– And I once got a Reds ticket, a T-shirt, and a non-alcoholic beer at Great American Ball Park, along with a LaRosa’s pizza after the game…all for a grand total of $12. I paid a total of $5 to park in Newport and ride the Southbank Shuttle to get there. A ballgame plus a T-shirt and pizza…for $17.

 

I’m not trying to brag about this. You can do it too.

Why keep paying more than you have to for a great night at the ballpark?

“Kurt Smith’s Ballpark E-Guides are a must for any fan. Want to know the best and cheapest way to support your team? Interested in the best seats to see the action? Curious about where to get the best food? Kurt provides all these answers and more.”
– Rob Silverman, MetsMerized
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

Since you’re still reading, you must be at least somewhat convinced…there are tons of ways to save money at the ballpark.

So I’ll ask again…

Would you be interested in a booklet full of tips and tricks to help you love live baseball for less money?

You can shell out $219.53 for your next ballgame…or $360.66 for your next game at Fenway Park…or you can download a Ballpark E-Guide PDF for just $6.99 NOW, and find out all of the tricks to pay much less than that…get the best deal on tickets, pick a cheap and/or fun way to get to the game, and know what to choose from the insane menus at the ballpark these days. Everything you need to know about your home ballpark, your team’s rival ballpark, or a ballpark you’re visiting for the first time…it’s all in there.

Guide to Fenway Park

Get your ballgame on now!

By the way, you can also order a nicely compact, beautifully illustrated and slick-papered print edition Ballpark E-Guide NOW for just $8.99 plus shipping. I’ll throw in the PDF with that at no extra charge…a $6.99 value. If you want to keep the PDF for yourself and give the booklet as a gift, be my guest. I’m a cool guy like that.

That price is probably much less than what you’ll save on just one trip to the ballgame…especially with a family.

By the way, if you haven’t already, you can sign up for my absolutely free e-mail newsletter, and get some great insider knowledge at various ballparks, a cool Tip of The Week, deals on the already value-friendly Ballpark E-Guides, and a free PDF with a list of my favorite helpful websites for traveling baseball fans. All at no charge whatsoever.

And when you’re tired of forking over $219.53 every time you go to the ballgame (aren’t you already?), click here to own a Ballpark E-Guide NOW!

See you at the Yard!

Best,
Kurt

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Ballpark Food: What Will You Eat At The Game?

Posted by Kurt Smith

Ballpark food, as you well know I’m sure, is priced just above the point of being unreasonable.

On top of that, there are so many choices at the ballpark that you often get that sense of missing out on something. Not to mention the lines at some stands…is the Shackburger or Tony Luke’s sandwich really worth the wait?

Wouldn’t you love to know ahead of time what you can choose from at the ballpark before your next visit? To know what all of those food stands are? Or even know some places outside where you can get cheaper sandwiches or peanuts?

The fun but troubling decision of what to eat applies to every ballpark, but I’ll use Citizens Bank Park, my home ballpark, as an example.

Let’s say you’re coming to see some Philadelphia baseball for the first time. Here’s just a few questions you might be asking yourself about the food selection:

 

Another Philly institution.

Ballpark Food Question #1: You’ve probably seen Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks on the Food Network, but who is Campo’s? What’s different about their cheesesteaks…are they any better?

 

bulls bbq citizens bank park

The pictures don’t do the Bull Dog justice.

Ballpark Food Question #2: I know I can shake Greg “The Bull” Luzinski’s hand here, but how good is his BBQ? What is that “Bull Dog”?

 

You don’t get this many bonus fries with your order, FYI.

Ballpark Food Question #3: Why are so many people walking around with cups of “Crabfries”? What’s in that cheese sauce?

 

Have you ever seen such a perfectly sized donut?

Ballpark Food Question #4: What is a Federal Donut, and why would someone eat donuts with fried chicken?

 

If you’ve never had tofu croutons, you’re really missing out.

Ballpark Food Question #5: What’s good at Harry The K’s that makes it worth the wait in line? Could it really be that “vegan cheesesteak”?

 

South Philly = great sandwiches.

Ballpark Food Question #6: Seasons Pizza? Wayback Burgers? Hatfield hot dogs? Turkey Hill ice cream? Well-known names to locals. But if you’re visiting Philly, you probably aren’t that familiar with them.

 

Don’t let that homemade pasta distract you.

Ballpark Food Question #7: If you’re low on funds, is there a place nearby to get a decent sandwich to bring in? (That’s subjective, of course…but my answer is yes, there is.)

 

“The information provided is great for first-time visitors to the ballpark, but it also includes a lot for the more experienced fans as well…after reading the guide, I discovered many food options that sounded interesting and may prompt me to expand my horizons a bit. There are also “Tightwad Tips” throughout the E-Guide to help you find creative ways to save money.” –
Jenn Zambri, Phillies Phollowers
Click here for more rave reviews

 

Every time you go to a game, you have to grapple with that food decision…because there are so many great selections, you only have so much stomach space, and you’re going to shell out a few bucks. All teams list on their website of food that’s available at their ballpark, but they don’t say much beyond that.

At some ballparks, you even have to make selections within selections.

There are four types of brats at Miller Park in Milwaukee; at least three types of cheesesteaks at Citizens Bank Park in Philly; three burger stands at Citi Field in New York; and at Nationals Park in D.C., you can choose between Hatfield sausages, Ben’s Chili Bowl Half-Smokes, or the intriguing Haute Dogs. They’re all good…but they’re all different.

Fans usually don’t know the difference…because by the time you’re in the concourse, you’re probably too hungry to Google what makes each stand special, right?

Speaking of shelling out a few bucks, most every team allows fans to bring food into the ballpark, and many ballparks have plentiful outside vendors and popular sandwich shops nearby. And that is a huge money-saver.

“The Rogers Centre E-Guide is perfect for casual fans, diehard fans and everyone in between…The attention to detail is ridiculous and the Tightwad Tips included in the guide are sure to help me cut down spending. Whether you be a tourist or a season ticket holder, I strongly recommend this guide.”
– Lucan Coutts, Blue Jays Nation
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

Here is something I’ve learned in my years of researching 15 major league ballparks…

Every ballpark now has an impressive menu of food choices…not just imaginative variations on hot dogs, but also sausages, burgers, pizzas, BBQ sandwiches, nachos, fries, even things like tacos, dumplings, and veggie burgers. And there’s no shortage of funnel cakes, cupcakes, ice cream and Italian ice for dessert. And craft beers.

Better yet, each ballpark has a few stands showcasing local favorites, which I love to see.

Progressive Field in Cleveland has Barrio tacos, Melt grilled cheese sandwiches, Happy Dogs, and Fat Head’s deli sandwiches…among MANY others. Citizens Bank Park features Tony Luke’s and Campo’s cheesesteaks, Federal Donuts, and Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries. Citi Field? Fuku chicken sandwiches, Pig Guy bacon on a stick, Mama’s of Corona subs, Two Boots pizza and Pat LaFrieda filet mignon sandwiches.

I could go on. All day. But you get it. Baseball teams are saving you the trouble of finding those popular and iconic city joints that foodies like me love in cities.

You can eat very well at a ballpark these days, and you can enjoy a great taste of the city…if you plan ahead.

“A must have for any fan planning a visit. Whether you’re a regular or a first timer, you will find everything you need to know. I had never been to the park before, but after reading the E-Guide, the season ticket holders in front of me thought I was an expert. Kurt really knows his stuff!”
– Conrad Klank, Stadium Journey Correspondent
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

When I go to a game, I’d like to know not only what all of those food stands are selling, but what’s unique about them…is it a local eatery? What toppings can I get on my footlong dog? Are the sandwiches really made by a gourmet chef? Are there alternatives to waiting in that line? Should I get extra cheese?

And if I’m trying to save cash, where can I get quality ballpark grub outside to bring in?

That’s why I’ve painstakingly researched the selection of food at 15 different ballparks, gathered as many tasty-looking photos as I could, and put every bit of info I could find in Ballpark E-Guides.

Whenever I go to a game now, I know ahead of time what I’m going to get to eat…and not only can I look forward to some great grub, I can budget accordingly.

It all adds to the excitement of going to the ballpark…having a great meal and enjoying the greatest game ever invented.

“Kurt lists guides to transportation, parking and seating, as well as food and drink, and gives you some cost-saving tips. For Yankee Stadium, and other ballparks, whether you are an experienced fan or a first-time visitor, his guides are well worth it. Check them out.”
– Mike Sommer, The Sommer Frieze
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

My copywriting expert tells me that I should include “mouth-watering bullets” in my posts, so here are some zesty pictures of some of my ballpark food favorites, which I think pass the mouth-watering test. Some of them are underrated gems…little secret insider fan favorites that are overshadowed by the big names, but feature much shorter lines.

visiting nationals Park bens chili

Freaking look at this. Is that artwork or what?

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #1: The Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke at Nationals Park in Washington. A true taste of D.C., with a spicy sausage slathered in Ben’s unique chili and melted cheese. I told my brother about it and he ordered one. Later that day he ordered another one.

 

Spicier than it looks. And it looks pretty spicy.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #2: The Campo’s “Heater” chicken cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park in Philly. Great for cheesesteak lovers, great for spicy food lovers, great for everything but first dates. Yes, Campo’s is as good as Tony Luke’s, in my humble but well-considered opinion.

 

yankee stadium food garlic fries

Don’t forget that “drizzled” olive oil.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #3: The garlic fries at Yankee Stadium in New York. You can smell them in the concourse walking by. Just bits of minced garlic and olive oil on crispy fries. Simple yet perfection. Don’t get these on a date though, unless you’re sharing…in which case, definitely get them.

 

food at citi field pressed grilled cheese

A talented chef can turn the simple grilled cheese into a masterpiece.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #4: The over the top Pressed grilled cheese a subway ride away at Citi Field. Thick slices of buttered, crusty bread with a layer of arugula and three types of gooey cheese. When a top chef makes a grilled cheese sandwich, this is what you’d expect.

 

ballpark food barrio nachos

I’ll never go back to 7-Eleven nachos.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #5: The chips were salty, but the Barrio people in Cleveland make a terrific plate of nachos. This puppy had chunks of chorizo, shredded cheddar AND queso, and all of the essential toppings that make nachos special. And not bad value at all for a ballpark, incidentally.

 

Great American Ball Park food skyline coney

And now it’s time for another round of “Find the hot dog!”

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #6: The folks in Cincinnati stay tried and true to the Skyline chili cheese Coney. It’s economical, so people usually get two…small hot dogs smothered with Cincinnati-style chili and a nice-sized mound of cheddar. If you haven’t tried Cincinnati chili, you should plan to.

 

This is what you do in Maryland.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #7: I’ve also found some cool outside vendor grub too…like the jumbo crab cake sandwich at the Pickles Pub patio outside of Camden Yards. I can almost hear Homer Simpson complaining about insufficient tartar sauce on the side…

 

The trick in making such a claim is to make “caramel corn” one word.

Kurt’s Ballpark Food Favorites #8: Not to mention great places with stuff to put in a goodie bag to snack on during the game…like the ubiquitous “Nuts on Clark” popcorn a short walk from Wrigley Field.

 

“I have made many trips to Citi over the last two seasons and can say that Smith has nailed every detail and aspect of the Mets’ home…From parking to the best food choices, the Citi Field E-Guide covers it all.”
– Steve Sidoti, 7 Train To Shea
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

In all modesty, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’ll find a better source for the complete lowdown of the available food at a ballpark…right down to what makes the beef tastier and lines longer. If you love to eat at the game but often have trouble deciding what to get, a Ballpark E-Guide is for you.

So here’s that question again…

Do you want to know all about the food stands at your home ballpark? Or at your favorite rival ballpark? Are you eager to know what the locals love at a ballpark you plan to visit?

And do you even want to know choices of cheaper outside vendors you can patronize?

Then leave the considerable advance research and leg work to me, and get all the info you need when you download a Ballpark E-Guide NOW for your next game.

Guide to Citi Field

Get your ballgame grub on!

Incidentally, Ballpark E-Guides aren’t just about food…you’ll find out how to get the best deals on tickets, how to find the best seats for your taste and budget, how to get to the ballpark easily and cheaply, and of course, how to save money on all of it!

All of that great, helpful knowledge…and tasty looking pictures of ballpark food…for just $6.99.

By the way, we offer print editions too…you can order the slick-papered, compact yet hugely useful, and colorfully illustrated print edition NOW for just $8.99 plus shipping…and you still get the PDF download at no extra charge.

Give the print edition as a great gift for your favorite baseball fan, and keep the PDF for yourself…and you’ll both know exactly what you’ll be eating at your next game!

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for the absolutely free Ballpark E-Guides newsletter…and receive helpful tricks, a Tip of The Week, discounts on already value-friendly Ballpark E-Guides, and my commentary on any news that matters to baseball fans in your inbox. Nice photos, too.

See you at the Yard!

Best,
Kurt

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Baseball Parking, And Other Expensive Hassles

Posted by Kurt Smith

Remember when baseball parking wasn’t a significant part of your entertainment budget? No, I don’t either.

And doesn’t the traffic in and out and overpriced baseball parking get exasperating?

If you’re like most fans, you park in team lots at the ballpark, accepting whatever the cost is. Maybe you can find something a couple bucks cheaper, but no one has time to search around in ballpark traffic.

In downtown big city ballparks especially, parking can be scarce and expensive, and traffic hassles are so annoying, that fans would rather use public transit and stand in a packed train car.

But as you can see every time you look out at full parking lots, thousands of fans tolerate this at every baseball game. Many times, people just don’t know better and cheaper ways to get there.

Wouldn’t you love to know about ALL your options…including where to park cheaply (sometimes even free!) or for an easy out, ways to avoid traffic, what public transit works best, even nearby restaurants that will give you a lift to the game? Or even unusual or romantic ways, like a pedicab or a ferry?

Isn’t being a smart fan and knowing that secret parking spot a great feeling?

If your answer is something like: “You mean I’m not required by law to spend the equivalent of a car payment just to park at a ballgame?”…

…then read every word of this post.

“Kurt Smith has left no stone unturned. From transportation to seat selection to food and drink and where to get the best deals, you can find the answer in his Ballpark E-Guides.”
– Scott Ableman, Let Teddy Win
Click here to read more rave reviews

One of the many things I’ve researched thoroughly here is the numerous ways to get to a ballpark…by car, public transit, shuttles, buses, boats, bicycles, whatever. Whether you’re going alone, with friends, impressing a date or bringing the kids, there is a great option for you.

I’ve learned how to avoid common pitfalls too. You can do better than some of these examples…

baseball parking ample parkjing cbp

“No, please, after you.”

Baseball Parking Pitfall #1: It takes a while…sometimes a long while…to exit this lot in Philly after the game. Nothing like staying alert and motionless in your car seat, waiting another minute for the next car to exit…I know there are other things I’d rather be doing.

 

baseball parking 60 dollar parking

Um…no.

Baseball Parking Pitfall #2: Would you believe this lot was more than a half mile away from Fenway? Might it dampen your enthusiasm for live baseball as you walk out with three fewer twenties in your wallet? That’s a couple of souvenir stuffed animals for the kids and at least one beer, but no…I had to park instead.

 

baseball parking alt route yankee

Then you have to actually cross the bridge…

Baseball Parking Pitfall #3: If you’re driving, you should know alternate routes to get to any ballpark, especially about an hour before game time. You’ve already paid for tickets to be at the game…don’t be stuck in your car, listening to the first pitch on the radio.

 

baseball parking towing fenway

The amazing thing is that someone with American license plates parked on Lansdowne Street on game day.

Baseball Parking Pitfall #4: You don’t want to be this guy, obviously. Have you seen the fines for parking wrong in Boston? If you think Red Sox tickets are expensive…

 

baseball parking 7 train

“Really, it’ll be fun! Who’s John Rocker?”

Baseball Parking Pitfall #5: OK, it doesn’t involve parking, but just saying…my wife has never been fond of standing on trains, especially when we go on vacation. I kinda don’t blame her. Public transit is useful and cheap, but some trains are better than others.

 

baseball parking kenmore crowd

I’m guessing there won’t be an open seat on this train.

Baseball Parking Pitfall #6: This isn’t about parking either, but you’ll probably rather pay $50 to park than be in this line at a ticket machine…and there’s always someone in front of you who’s never used it. Don’t get mad, you keep muttering to yourself, they’ll eventually ask someone for help. Been there? I have.

 

I have no doubt that, if you’re a baseball fan, you’ve dealt with all of those annoyances…overpaying for parking, searching for a lot at 2 MPH in ballpark traffic, sitting in a parking lot for what seems like hours after the game, standing on the crowded train car, and did I mention overpaying for parking?

“The Progressive Field E-Guide provides good information on the numerous seating and food options throughout the facility. Outside of the facility, there is a significant amount of space pertaining to parking options, perfect for a Ballpark Chaser like myself who wants inexpensive parking, and not just team-sanctioned parking options available through team websites.”
– Matt Nelson, Ballparks of The Midwest
Click here to read more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

Before I started doing this, I never bothered to spend time in Philly or Baltimore searching for better spots to park. Who has the time? Nor did I consider that I could actually drive and park for a game at Fenway or Wrigley without losing my shirt or my mind in post-game traffic. It’s tricky enough just getting to the game, so most fans…myself included for many years…just stay with the tried and true route.

But once I started learning more about these things, finding transportation alternatives was just one of the tricks that caused me many “kick myself in the head” moments…especially at how much money I had been wasting.

But now that it’s my job to give you the pros and cons of ALL of your transportation choices at a game, I’m a whole lot wiser.

Here are some things I do differently these days…

 

baseball parking patco

Either way works.

Baseball Parking Alternative #1: If I’m flying solo for a Phillies game, I save on tolls and parking now by using the PATCO-SEPTA combination to Citizens Bank Park from South Jersey. PATCO-SEPTA round trip as of this writing: $9.10. Toll and parking: $23. That’s $14 to spend on crab fries (with cheese!) and a Federal Donut! Best of all, I’m not stuck in the parking lot waiting for everyone to exit.

In cities like Philly and Baltimore where people drive to the ballpark, public transit trains are nowhere near as packed. (I know cheap and free parking spots in Philly too, but for big attendance nights I’d rather avoid the traffic.)

 

baseball parking MTA light rail

The ballpark is, like, right there.

Baseball Parking Alternative #2: I knew about the Light Rail in Baltimore, and most Baltimoreans do obviously, but I didn’t know how much money and aggravation I’d save with it. I park in Lutherville or Timonium for free, spend $3.40 on a round-trip ticket, avoid the ungodly frustrating Baltimore city gridlock, and get dropped off literally at the Camden Yards gate. To park that close would be at least $20. That $16.60 can buy me a big burger, peanuts and a few bottled waters at Pickles with some cash left over…what would you rather spend your money on?

Again, I know where to park cheaply at the Yard too, but Baltimore traffic really, really rots.

“Look, Kurt,” you say, “everyone knows they save money with public transit to a game”. Yes, maybe. (I didn’t!)

But it gets better. Try chewing on this:

 

baseball parking 100 clarendon street

So secret is this spot I’m giving you the address!

Baseball Parking Alternative #3: I’ve parked for just $11 for a game at Fenway Park, when many lots go for upwards of $50. It’s a hike from here, but if you don’t want to walk, you can take a Commuter Rail train from here to a station just 500 feet from the ballpark for $4.50 round trip. At $15.50, (or $20 for two people) you’re still way ahead of people who pay $50 to park that close. Imagine having $30 more to spend inside Fenway, without having to walk any further to get to your car.

 

baseball parking wrigley four blocks

There are, actually, free spots closer than this.

Baseball Parking Alternative #4: You can park for free at Wrigley Field, where some lots can be as high as $60. Read that again, I’ll wait…park for free at Wrigley Field! Seriously, you can be the life of the party when you casually let slip that you parked for free at Wrigley Field once.

 

baseball parking kellys bleachers

“So what do you say, is it the new Bluesmobile or what?”

Baseball Parking Alternative #5: You can park without paying a cent at a tavern in Milwaukee and have the nice folks there give you a free ride to a game at Miller Park. All I had to do in my last visit was order some wings, and they were perfectly good…and cheaper than most ballpark food items.

There are dozens of Milwaukee restaurants and bars that do this…you can have a great meal, whatever your dining preference and save money on both food and parking. And it’s great fun.

 

baseball parking comerica

The view from a spot I paid $2 for. True.

Baseball Parking Alternative #6: I’ve parked for just $2 across the street from Comerica Park in Detroit. This is literally the view from where I parked, again, for just $2. Normally this would be about $25. (In fairness, I exploited a garage rate loophole by accident…but it was a pleasant surprise!) This was a long time ago, but I believe you can still do it today. Hockeytown and Cheli’s bars are right here…and you’d have $23 extra to spend on it with this trick.

 

baseball parking gateway clipper pnc

If the batter really crushes one, you still won’t be anywhere near it.

Baseball Parking Alternative #7: Want to go romantic or fun? I’m planning to take my kids on a ferry ride to a Pirates game, but if it doesn’t work out, I can always stay in downtown Pittsburgh and ride the T to the ballpark for free.

Whether you want to save a bunch of money on parking, avoid traffic, join a pre-game party at a nearby tavern, bring the kids, impress a date, whatever — when you read a Ballpark E-Guide, you’ll learn ALL of your options for getting to the game…including where to park cheaply (sometimes even for free!) or for an easy out, what trains or buses work best, unusual ways to get there like ferries or pedicabs, and which local restaurants feature great ballpark shuttles.

“This e-guide is a great companion to have with you…It really does answer every question you might have about buying a ticket, getting to the ballpark, and seeing all there is to see at the stadium.”
– Martin Gandy, Talking Chop
Click here to read more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

If you’re going to drive to a game, pick a decent parking spot ahead of time…one that won’t cost too much and offers a relatively easy out. Or let a local tavern drive you to the game, and enjoy cheaper food and drinks, and make a fun day of it.

And maybe public transit is the best option to get to some ballparks, but there are other alternatives. Want to impress a date? Take a boat to the game…you can do that at several ballparks. Or if you need some exercise, rent a bicycle, which you can also do in quite a few cities now.

Since you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you’re curious to know just how many parking and transit options you really have at the ballgame. I’ll bet that you’ll be as surprised as I was.

Just try not to kick yourself in the head as much as I did. It hurts after a while.

“I was pleasantly surprised…really well done…there is nothing worse than going to a new environment and leaving feeling like you missed something. From where to sit, how to get there and what to eat when you’re there, these guides meticulously detail each of these and more.”
– Joe Aiello, The View From The Bleachers
Click here to read more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

So then…I’ll ask again…

Do you really want to know about ALL the ways to get to your home ballpark, or a ballpark you’re planning to visit in the future? And, of course, how to save money for souvenirs or food?

Then take advantage of all of the research and leg work that yours truly has already done. Download a nicely illustrated, information-packed Ballpark E-Guide NOW for the amazing price of just $6.99.

For less than the cost of a beer or sandwich at the game (which you’ll now be able to afford!), you’ll learn all the tips and tricks that the insider fans know about getting to the ballpark. You’ll save money, experience less hassle, and even find out about how getting there can be half the fun.

Oh, almost forgot…(almost done, I promise!)

You’ll find a ton of insider knowledge about everything else, too…like how to get the best deals on tickets, what to know about all of the seating areas, even the complete rundown of the food, both inside and outside of the ballpark.

guide-to-yankee-stadium

Get your ballgame on now!

Again, all for just $6.99.

Or better yet…you can order the beautifully illustrated, nicely compact and slick-papered print edition NOW for just $8.99 plus shipping…and you’ll get the $6.99 PDF at no extra charge.

Give the print version as a gift to your favorite baseball fan…the gift of money-saving knowledge…and keep the PDF for yourself. Everyone wins!

Thanks for reading, and if you haven’t already done so, be sure to sign up for the absolutely free Ballpark E-Guides newsletter…and receive helpful tricks, a Tip of The Week, discounts on already value-friendly Ballpark E-Guides, and my commentary on any news that matters to baseball fans in your inbox. Nice photos, too.

See you at the Yard!

Best,
Kurt

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Baseball Seating: Are You Getting The Best Seat?

Posted by Kurt Smith

I have a question for you regarding baseball seating…

What’s the first thing you do when you go online or to the box office to buy tickets?

You look at the baseball seating chart, right? You look at different pricing levels, and then you make a choice based on your budget and your preferences.

But have you noticed that you never really know what you’re getting with baseball seating, especially when you’re going to a ballpark for the first time?

You do your best to maybe find something near first base to see the close plays or behind home plate for the view or in the club area for the amenities, but most baseball seating charts aren’t much help beyond that, even the nice new interactive ones with 360-degree views.

In each ballpark, there are pros and cons of every seating area, and some offer much better bang for the buck than others. Some ballparks, like Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, even have assigned standing room sections…and you should definitely choose wisely with that.

The baseball seating charts help, but they don’t tell you everything.

For example, do you want to know:

  • If you’ll be in the shade or in the sun?
  • If you’ll enjoy a sweet view of the city or other features like super hi-def scoreboards?
  • Whether you’ll be close to the action or so far away you’ll hear the crack of the bat after you see it?
  • If your section has obstructed views, from support poles, overhangs or landings?
  • If the club seats are worth the extra few bucks?
  • If where you’re sitting is the ideal place for kids, millennials, or visiting fans?
  • What’s included with your tickets in the party areas?
  • If there are standing room spots to avoid?

If your answer any to these questions is: “Yes, I remember that day I forgot my sunscreen, and the language my kids were hearing, and that $60 seat that was a mile away, and that time…etc.”

…then read every word of this post.

“Ballpark E-Guides were a truly tremendous resource. Like many, my life is complicated being a dad and husband, but Kurt’s tips saved me time and energy, allowing me to find the perfect seats to suit my ballpark personality and budget.

I recommend leveraging Kurt and the knowledge he has gathered in his E-Guides. It simplifies the guessing and allows you to basically sit back and just enjoy the game!”
– Bill K., Burlington, NJ
Click here for more rave reviews

Baseball seating is a tricky thing. Every ballpark has those pitfalls you want to avoid. Here are just a few examples:

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #1: If you’ve been to Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, you may have experienced the dreaded “obstructed view”:

baseball seating fenway park obstructed views Loge

At least the pitcher can’t see who is heckling him.

 

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #2: In some ballparks, maybe you’ve bought lower level seats for a great price and not known why they were so cheap…then you find your seat and you think hmm, I kind of liked looking at the scoreboard:

baseball seating progressive field seating infield lower box

Who’s winning? Man it’s cold!

 

Baseball Seating Pitfall #3: Many of the new ballparks have pretty high upper levels, and they’re not for the acrophobic:

baseball seating yankee stadium seating frieze

I doubt even the Mick could hit one this high.

 

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #4: Sometimes teams won’t tell you certain things about standing room tickets, like how you won’t be able to see the infield if you’re under 11 feet tall:

yankee stadium seating standing room terrace

Anyone have a four-foot stool?

 

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #5: Sometimes a ballpark has seats in spots that make you wonder why in Sam Hill the team even put seats there:

baseball seating rogers centre obstructed view

Half a game is better than none!

 

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #6: Teams aren’t going to tell you about how you’ll roast in those uncovered outfield sections that have lots of white concrete and no shade. Not fun.

baseball seating pepsi porch citi

And no, there isn’t any more shade since this became the Coca-Cola Corner.

 

– Baseball Seating Pitfall #7:  Some seats even have ridiculous restrictions…wouldn’t you love to not know about this until after you were in the ballpark?

baseball seating Guaranteed Rate Field 500 level

The ballpark has other levels?

 

Whether you are going to the game alone, bringing the family, impressing a date, or going with friends for the party, you want to get the best seats you can afford, right?

In a ballpark with 45,000 seats, teams can only go into so much detail. It’s impossible to tell fans everything about where they’ll be sitting, with things like shade and overhangs and such.

But there is a lot more to know than what a seating chart will generally tell you. Teams are not going to let you know if there is a blocked view of something unless it’s really, really bad. And pictures can’t always provide perspective of how close you’ll be.

“Kurt Smith has left no stone unturned. From transportation to seat selection to food and drink and where to get the best deals, you can find the answer in his Ballpark E-Guides.”
– Scott Ableman, Let Teddy Win
Click here for more rave reviews

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Would you believe I went to about 30 games at Camden Yards before I realized that I should stop buying the obstructed seats in the *&%!*@#&! Terrace Box sections?

And that at my first game at what is now Guaranteed Rate Field, I had cheap seats in the upper level and could not explore the place, because of the restriction you see above. Fun thing for someone who flew to Chicago to see the city’s ballparks for the first time.

I’ve sat next to a support pole in Fenway that blocked a portion of right field, underneath an overhang in Progressive Field that blocked my view of the scoreboard, and in the bleachers at PNC Park that don’t feature any of the incredible city view.

I know better now.

As you can see from the above photos…some of which were taken from seats that I had actually paid for without knowing about these pitfalls…there are some types of seats and standing room in every ballpark that you should avoid, especially since everyone has different tastes at the game.

“Kurt Smith’s Ballpark E-Guides are a must for any fan. Want to know the best and cheapest way to support your team? Interested in the best seats to see the action? Curious about where to get the best food? Kurt provides all these answers and more.”
– Rob Silverman, MetsMerized
Click here for more rave reviews

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But every ballpark has those seats with great value for fans, too. Here are just a few examples…

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #1: Loge Level seats at Miller Park in Milwaukee…where you can sit almost at field level for a very fair price.

baseball seating miller park loge box

Elevated, yet in the shade.

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #2: The club section at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, which includes food and non-alcoholic drinks and a great view. Good food too, like LaRosa’s pizza…and at ballpark food prices, it won’t take much to get your money’s worth on that.

baseball seating gabp club

And at the window, you’ll enjoy a fine view of the baseball field with your nachos.

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #3: The Grandstand seats at Fenway Park in Boston are a great value, provided you know how to avoid the support poles. The shade is great on hot days, the fans are enthusiastic, and you’re close to the action…in seats that are among the cheapest in the ballpark.

baseball seating fenway park obstructed views section 32

Ah, here’s the trick…just sit in FRONT of the poles!

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #4: Being in the upper deck at Camden Yards in Baltimore isn’t bad at all…you’re closer to the field there than in most ballparks. And the view of everything else…the warehouse, the city backdrop, and Eutaw Street…is unparalleled in baseball.

baseball seating camden yards upper level

Building the ballpark around the warehouse. It’s still genius.

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #5: Would you believe that for some games at Yankee Stadium, you can get Terrace level seats for as little as five bucks? There is now even a kids’ play area on the upper level, and fans at any income level can bring the family to a game for a memorable experience, at just five bucks for each ticket! (I know, at Yankee Stadium? Really?)

baseball seating yankee stadium terrace

Sure it’s packed when tickets are five bucks!

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #6: For almost any game at Nationals Park in Washington, you can buy a ticket at the box office for just $5 as of this writing, and choose a spot from some of the best standing room in baseball. If you want to just get into a ballpark full of great food, discounted beer (!), and sit on a barstool with a counter and enjoy watching a contending team for peanuts, this is for you.

nationals park seating standing room

Lots of people sitting in standing room spots. With a counter no less.

 

– Cool Baseball Seating Example #7: Wrigley Field bleachers in Chicago. ‘Nuff said.

baseball seating wrigley field bleachers

They’ve earned it.

 

“I recently read the Fenway Park E-Guide and could not believe how much I learned. Kurt goes into great detail on where to park, where to buy tickets, best views in the park, how to get to the game, and best places to eat inside and outside of the park.”
– Scott Chamberlain, Woo Chamberlain
Click here for more rave reviews

own a ballpark e-guide

Inside every Ballpark E-Guide is a description of every seating area of the ballpark…premium seating, club areas, party areas, box and reserved sections, lower and upper levels, bleachers, even standing room. All with lots of helpful photos. It’s the most detailed guide to baseball seating you’ll find about any ballpark.

You’ll know whether you’ll be baking in the sun or staring into it at sunset, whether there is an overhang that blocks your view of the scoreboard, how to avoid a support pole blocking your view, and whether a seating area includes amenities or is better for families.

You’ll also read my well-considered and honest opinions…about the Green Monster seats at Fenway Park (not worth the price, at least as far as the view), the bleachers at Wrigley Field (the best outfield seats in baseball, but not always great for kids), or the party areas at Miller Park (Milwaukee natives LOVE baseball).

Last but certainly not least: there’s a bunch of other stuff too…you’ll know every way to get to the ballpark, you’ll know all about the great food items available at the game, and how to save money on all of it!

Imagine you’re going to a place you’ve never been, you have a lot of questions about almost everything and you know almost nothing about it. Now, imagine you find someone that put together practically everything you want to know and also helps you to save some money!!!

That’s Kurt Smith and Ballpark E-Guides I’m talking about!

So, if you want to know how to get to the ballpark and easily find a spot to put your car, this is your website; if you want to know where find the best food for the lowest price, Kurt is the man; if you want to know where are the best seats (including where the shadow is gonna be first!) and the places TO NOT SIT, don’t waste your time and buy one!
– Francisco Campos – Belo Horizonte – Brazil
Click here to read the full text of this review

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You spend a sizable chunk of your hard-earned money for baseball tickets. You deserve to know exactly what you’re getting and whether it’s right for you…and for your budget.

As I think you now know from reading this, when you read a Ballpark E-Guide, you’ll learn plenty of things that teams don’t want you to know about all of the seating in the ballpark.

So then…here’s the million-dollar question again…

Do you want to get the best seats for your money and your preferences at the ballgame?

guide-to-pnc-park

Find your perfect baseball seats NOW!

Then let me handle the hours of research, circling the ballpark, and photo-taking (yes, I need a life), and download the complete guide PDF to your favorite ballpark NOW for just $6.99.

And if you’d like to read the nicely compact, beautifully illustrated print edition NOW for just $8.99 plus shipping, I’ll throw in the PDF at no extra charge.

You can give the print edition as a gift to your favorite baseball fan, and keep the PDF for yourself. I won’t tell. You can even include tickets for great seats with your gift…and you’ll know what kind of seats to get!

By the way, don’t forget to sign up for the cool and free Ballpark E-Guides newsletter too…you’ll get some great insider knowledge at various ballparks, a cool Tip of The Week, deals on the already value-friendly Ballpark E-Guides, and a free PDF with a list of my favorite helpful websites for traveling baseball fans. All at no charge whatsoever.

And when you’re ready to learn how to pick the best seats at the ballpark, get yourself the most detailed resource on baseball seating now…and never forget your sunglasses again!

See you at the Yard!

Best,
Kurt

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Joe Mock and 203 Ballparks

Posted by Kurt Smith

Fans whose yearly vacations revolve around a baseball road trip probably know the name Joe Mock. If they don’t, they should.

Mock is the author and webmaster at Baseballparks.com, the premier website for baseball roadtrippers. He is also the author of 2001’s “Joe Mock’s Ballpark Guide”, a delightfully illustrated book about the 30 MLB parks in use at the time. He regularly contributes to USA Today’s Sports Weekly about the North American homes of baseball.

His credentials for all of this?

How about visiting all 203 of the professional ballparks currently in use – that’s major league, spring training and affiliated minor league ballparks – a total that Mock will reach when he visits Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colorado, this July 12th.

Yes. Two hundred and three ballparks.

joe mock baseball parks

Joe Mock of Baseball Parks, at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama.

I caught up with Joe when I heard about this milestone, and he was kind enough to share with me his thoughts about the feat and how the journey started.

“About 20 years ago, I got the crazy notion that I’d like to see how many different ballparks I could visit in one season,” he remembers. “My first year of trying I was overjoyed when I got to ten ballparks, with the tenth being in Cleveland. At the time, I wondered if I’d ever be able to reach such a lofty perch again, because ten seemed like so many.”

Visiting all 203 wasn’t initially his goal, “but as I kept knocking them off, I kept getting closer. Along the way, I achieved the objective of seeing games in all 30 MLB parks. That happened in 2001, when I went to the Metrodome in Minneapolis.” (note from Kurt: yes, Joe has been to Target Field.)

Over time, his touring pace increased. Significantly. Imagine visiting 47 ballparks in one season – and calling it a down year. That was Mock in 2009, when he was challenged with two new venues in New York City, three new spring training facilities, new ballparks in Gwinnett, Columbus, Fort Wayne, Reno, and Bowling Green, and two significantly renovated baseball stadiums.

By this point, with a ballpark book and website in his name, plus dozens of ballpark-related projects – like publishing a poster – visiting new venues and sharing his insights about them had become his norm.

Joe Mock’s website is full of detailed reviews of dozens of ballparks. In each, he describes the ballpark’s setting and design, along with his likes and dislikes, all from the perspective of a dedicated fan of both baseball and its architecture.

After scrutinizing over 300 ballparks (the larger total includes non-affiliated and college ballparks), including venues that have now been replaced, he’s come to the conclusion that there are two things he likes to see in a park.

“First, I want to see something different,” he points out. “In the 1990s, the vast majority of new minor league parks looked the same. Most looked like you could lift them up and drop them in another market, and it wouldn’t have made any difference. That’s why one park of that era, the one in Altoona, has always stood out to me. It was very distinctive and picked up on the area’s fascinating railroad history.”

Which brings Mock to his second most-desired ballpark attribute, which in some ways is related to the first. “I want the park to have a ‘sense of place,’ so that it looks like it belongs in its city. I want it to have the appearance that it couldn’t have been built anywhere other than where it is.

“PNC Park in Pittsburgh is an obvious example of this. In the minors, Altoona, North Little Rock, Corpus Christi and Stockton have always struck me as really belonging where they were built. With the exception of Altoona, the whole Eastern League looks like any park could’ve been built in any of its markets.”

Needless to say, he has his favorites and not-so-favorites. Tops on his list is Wrigley Field in Chicago — a structure that Mock, who isn’t afraid to use a touch of exaggeration occasionally, calls “the greatest structure ever built by man.”

Mock believes that Wrigleyville, the neighborhood that surrounds the Cubs’ beloved home, “certainly offers the greatest setting in sports. The structure itself is stately and the sense of history is overwhelming. I truly love every visit I’ve ever made there, and I’ve been there plenty of times, almost freezing to death at several early-season games.”

He is conflicted, of course, about the planned renovations there, since like many Wrigley fans, a part of him doesn’t want a single change to be made. “However, when I come to my senses, I realize that a baseball franchise has to make money, and the ad signs and video screen will provide revenue streams that other teams have had for years, and the Cubs haven’t.

“And if that revenue helps keep the Cubs in Wrigley for another couple of decades, then that’s good enough for me,” he added emphatically.

While he doesn’t often get an argument over his opinion of Wrigley’s greatness, Mock has gotten occasional grief from website visitors over his rankings of other ballparks. One example was his favorable piece about the new Marlins Park in Miami, which was an architectural risk that didn’t go over well with some ballpark fans.

“I didn’t like its location, but its bright colors, fantastic food, liberal use of art and miraculous engineering truly make it a marvel. And it’s perfect for South Florida. Baseball fans should go to Miami to see it.

“However, mostly because folks around the country tend to hate the Marlins, their owner and their former manager (Ozzie Guillen), they couldn’t accept that the team’s ballpark is any good. Interestingly,” he adds with a chuckle, “most of the harshest criticism of me came from people who had never been to Miami.”

Mock, of course, is happy to entertain the opinions of his readers, providing comment sections at the end of his reviews. And he does engage dissenters, thoughtfully and respectfully. After all, talking about visiting ballparks is the next best thing to doing it.

To visit upwards of 50-60 baseball cathedrals a year is indeed a challenge, especially when it’s not a full-time job.

“It helps that I never lose my motivation to travel long distances to visit baseball facilities. Once I realized how passionate baseball fans are about parks, it gave me even more incentive to visit and report on them.

“Truly, if there is a ballpark I want to see, I find a way to make it happen – like Grand Junction, for instance. Sometimes, it just takes me a while to work a place in.”

Many of his readers don’t realize it, but ballpark chasing isn’t his primary job. “I operate an agency that deals with health insurance, and I have clients all around the country. Therefore, some of my travel to see ballparks is actually part of my day job, while frequent flyer miles accumulated doing the business travel help get me to ballpark destinations later on.”

It also helps that his website is successful. “By no means does this (the frequent-flyer miles) cover all of the costs, but I’ve been fortunate that my freelance writing has generated revenue that I then spend on going to more ballparks. Also, Baseballparks.com has gotten more and more popular, and ads that appear on it add to the incoming revenue.

“I don’t do all of this ballpark visiting because it’s my job to do it, because it isn’t. I do it because I really love visiting and assessing ballparks.”

Having visited all of the ballparks currently in use is a remarkable achievement indeed — and it’s a reflection of just how much we baseball fans love the game. To all of us, nothing beats seeing it live with a favorite local sandwich sitting in our laps. (Joe’s favorite concession stand, by the way, is Turkey Mike’s BBQ in San Jose.) It’s hard to imagine that Joe Mock would have any plans to slow down – and he doesn’t.

“I will continue to go to every new ballpark as soon as it opens,” he predicts. “And soon thereafter, readers can expect an in-depth review of the park along with dozens of photos. I’ll also continue to provide updates on all of the ballpark news of the day, on my site and via Twitter. And as long as the USA Today sports editors keep wanting me to write ballpark-related pieces for their publications, I’ll gladly take on their assignments.”

While it’s true that only a handful of brand-new baseball palaces open each year – except in the aberration of 2009 as Mock reiterates – the changes made to existing venues never stop.

“The ballpark renovations will continue to keep me running around to see all of them, and when the changes are major enough, I will do an in-depth review of them for my readers.”

So while having seen all of the 203 current parks is truly impressive, Joe reflects that “the fun is in the chase more than the achievement of the goal. I’ve truly had a blast along the way, and met a lot of outstanding people. Some of my best friends today are guys I met at ballparks.”

People who, no doubt, were fascinated by the depth of Mock’s baseball travels. And probably a little envious, too.

 

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What’s New at the Ballparks 2017 – National League

Posted by Kurt Smith

I haven’t yet had an opportunity to get all the E-Guides up to speed with the changes for 2017 (I will as soon as I can), but I’ve listed everything new for National League ballparks described by Ballpark E-Guides:

 

Chicago Cubs – Wrigley Field:

Well, obviously, the most celebrated change at Wrigley Field will be the 2016 Championship flag, which has been hoisted and now flies triumphantly over the Friendly Confines.

But there’s some other new stuff too…

The Plaza at Wrigley (I’m sure it will have a corporate name at some point) is now open to fans with tickets on game days; the Cubs wanted it open to everyone but couldn’t get Chicago to agree. The big space open two hours before the first pitch and will feature food and drink sales and the game being broadcast on the big video board.

The bullpens have been moved to underneath the bleachers, so unfortunately fans won’t be able to heckle the other team’s relief guys. The Cubs have added new seating down the lines.

If you’re parking on the street at Wrigley this year, be prepared for a price hike; meter rates during games have doubled and are now $4 per hour, enough to almost make it not worth the trouble. (Consult this for better transportation to Wrigley choices.)

There’s a new Jim Beam Patio…well, it’s not actually new, it’s just the former Jack Daniel’s patio…it’s the upper concourse space behind home plate with a nice view of Wrigleyville but none of the game. The deck will serve drinks made with Jim Beam and related brands like Hornitos.

As far as new food, the coolest addition is Pork & Mindy’s, a Wicker Park BBQ joint known for top notch BBQ sandwiches like buffalo chicken with gorgonzola and ranch, and a pulled pork sandwich with bacon bites on a bao bun. Pork & Mindy’s will be in the bleachers, but the bao sandwich will be sold at Marquee Classics behind home plate.

Also in the bleachers at the Sheffield Counter you can get hot dogs with pork bellies, pickled ginger aioli and kimchi. True. There is now a Bao Wao dog with pickled daikon and carrots, sriracha aioli and cilantro. You can also get a grilled cheese sandwich with two different cheeses, smoked brisket and caramelized onions; or a healthier grilled chicken sandwich with chili glaze, Asian slaw and sautéed pineapple.

Want to learn more about Wrigley Field? Click here.

 

Cincinnati Reds – Great American Ball Park:

The big news in Cincinnati is the newest effort to reduce food lines…you can now order your food through the Ballpark app and pick it up in a locker-style compartment. You scan the code and the door opens for you with your food. Nice. No more of those friendly interactions with cashiers.

The Scouts Alley is now the Scouts Club, and the exclusive indoor area behind the Scout seats has been renovated, with a new full bar and a new grab and go food area that includes the Laura’s Lean Gusher Burger. Fans can see real time stats on touchscreen displays, just like the scouts do.

There is a new party suite called the Jack Casino super suite on the third base side; it holds your group of 30-40 and is actually on the field level. The Frontgate suite on the third base side has a new bar and a buffet.

The coolest new food addition is a seemingly obvious idea for a ballpark snack…Cheetos popcorn! They even have a tumbler to mix the two snacks. Kudos to the exec at Frito-Lay that thought of that one…

The Fry Box has a new buffalo chicken baked potato, and the Porkopolis stands have some unusual new dogs like a Gator Dog and a Reuben Dog.

The Reds have also added the fan favorite mac and cheese dishes from Covington, KY based Keystone Bar & Grill at the food bars; and longtime Cincinnati favorite Graeter’s gourmet ice cream is finally available at the ballpark. Couldn’t happen soon enough.

Want to know more about Great American Ball Park? Click here.

 

Milwaukee Brewers – Miller Park:

The Brewers uprooted their confusing concession stand arrangement and beautified the food ordering at Miller Park. The new First Base Ward and Third Base Ward feature 11 new concession stands, but more importantly there is now a “Local Brews” stand that features 24 beers brewed exclusively in Wisconsin. That will go well with the two full service bars offering MillerCoors products.

There is also a new full bar in the parking lot for that tailgating crowd. The Brew Crew Bar will have nice couches and tables with chairs, full bars with beer and mixed drinks, outdoor heaters and tailgate games. It will be available for most weekend contests.

The most notable food choice is the addition of Zaffiro’s pizza, which a Facebook follower of Ballpark E-Guides tells me is the best thin crust pizza in Milwaukee. As far as I know it’s plain and pepperoni at the moment; I’ll update this if I hear otherwise. There’s also J. Agave’s tacos…with roasted mushroom and sweet corn, chipotle chicken or carne asada, and there are some new offerings at the Smoke Shack and at AJ Bombers, like Milwaukee burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. Klement’s will be bringing all natural sausages at some stands this year.

Finally, you can get mac and cheese at Miller this year…in flavors like chorizo and pico de gallo, roasted mushroom and onion, or smoked bacon.

Want to know more about Miller Park? Click here.

 

New York Mets – Citi Field:

Most changes to Citi Field have been already added to the Citi Field E-Guide, but just for grins, here’s a bit about the new food…

A Nicoletta stand has been added to the already amazing selection of food in the center field food court; Nicoletta will compliment Papa Rosso’s pizza with signature meatball sandwiches and Stromboli roll-ups and chicken parm sandwiches.

Pressed by Josh Capon unfortunately is no more; but in its place is a new alternative to those Shake Shack lines…the Bash Burger! Josh Capon’s burger and barrel patty is a six-time winner at the NYC Wine and Food Festival, so it’s no slouch. It’s topped with bacon, caramelized onion jam, pickles, American cheese and special sauce. You can get it topped with other stuff too.

A new and popular addition has been added to the food choices at the Promenade Club: DO. (It’s supposed to have a flat line over the “O” but I can’t find that on my keyboard.) It’s a Greenwich Village based cookie dough joint that makes egg-free and safe-to-eat cookie dough good enough to have lines outside for hours. At the Mets game though, the line should only last about an inning. Well worth a few extra bucks for Promenade Club access.

Want to know more about Citi Field? Click here.

 

Philadelphia Phillies – Citizens Bank Park:

Some might disagree with me on this, but the best move the Phillies made in the offseason was the addition of Primo Hoagies to Citizens Bank Park. Primo is a local chain of hoagie shops that are very popular in the area and with good reason…and they are, in this writer’s opinion, superior to the recently departed Planet Hoagie. A Philly ballpark needs a hoagie stand, and Primo gets it done. You can get an Italian or chicken cutlet hoagie or a meatball sandwich here.

There are other decent food additions too; but first let me mention that similar to the new order and pick up option in Cincinnati, the Phils now offer the option of ordering kiosks…place your order, swipe your credit card and bring your receipt to the pickup area. Not sure if the lines at the kiosks will make it pointless, but there it is.

Anyway, more cool food, first at the restaurant: Harry The K’s now has a “Farmer’s Market Grain Bowl”, with toasted red quinoa, brown rice, sweet peppers, cucumbers, radish and baby herbs, and a falafel sandwich on pita bread with lettuce, cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, and…get this…sesame mint yogurt sauce. Yes, a baseball exec thought of that. But no fear, you can also get a pastrami sausage with bacon, red cabbage and tarragon mustard.

Out on the concourses are some other neat grub stuffs…the new Mac Shack is Philly’s new addition to the essential comfort food of mac and cheese (which seems to be becoming a mandatory offering at the ballpark). Customize your own mac and cheese toppings. Bull’s BBQ has a new pulled chicken sandwich, and Signature Dogs Has a new Jersey Shore Dog with pork roll and American cheese sauce, and a new mac and cheese dog for the carb-deficient.

Oh, almost forgot the best new side…the South Philly Shareable Stak! It’s boardwalk fries topped with roast pork, sharp provolone, cherry pepper aioli and chopped long hots. Bring some Tums for that one.

And you can now get Topps trading cards of Incredible Eats at the ballpark, including the South Philly Dog. Check it out in the Clubhouse store.

Want to know more about Citizens Bank Park? Click here.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates – PNC Park:

Did you know there’s a new Racing Pierogi? Pizza Penny has been added to the Great Pierogi Race N’at that happens every home game at PNC Park. The coolest thing about this, of course, is that Mrs. T makes pizza pierogies! I didn’t know that. Wonder how Mr. T feels about it.

Anyway, the Pirates have made some club suite renovations, and now fans can sit in rotating office chairs with wheels while enjoying the exclusive club food options. The Pirates have renamed a standing pavilion the “Crow’s Nest”. No biggie there.

Fans can appreciate two new things about alcohol consumption at PNC Park. The first is that you can now leave the Skull Bar with your mixed drink, which you couldn’t do previously due to PA laws. The second is that the favorite beer among locals…Iron City…is featured at the Skull Bar. If you’ve never had an Iron City, get one…it will sharpen your beer palate.

New food items are mostly in Club 3000 and in the Rivertowne Hall of Fame Club:

Club 3000 now has rotating carved meat sandwiches from executive chef Adam Holt that change with each homestand. The Club now has safe-to-eat raw cookie dough too.

The Hall of Fame Club, as they do every season, has added neat new stuff to the menu, like kielbasa sliders with pepper jack cheese, stone ground mustard and caramelized onions. They also have some cool new vegetarian and vegan options, like vegan burgers, and Buffalo cauliflower. You can get a toasted tofu sandwich at Just4U.

PNC Park now features Isaly’s ice cream; I don’t know if that’s the official provider or not. Or try the new House BURGHer Stak…boardwalk fries with seasoned ground beef, cheese, grilled onions, secret sauce, tomatoes and lettuce…topped with a brioche bun. And finally, the brazed Kielbasa Reuben is kielbasa with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and house sauce on thick cut marble rye. Gotta love Pittsburgh sandwiches.

Want to know more about PNC Park? Click here.

 

Washington Nationals – Nationals Park:

In a ballpark with plenty of high end seats, the Nats now cater to that fan that will pay a stiff price to sit next to players in the dugout. The new MGM National Harbor Dugout Club is eight luxury seats…and when I say luxury seats, I mean practically recliners…on the first base side next to the Nationals’ dugout. They’ll have private bathrooms, a private entrance, and a personal attendant. But these seats are only available through MGM National Harbor. Enjoy.

Other than that the only big changes are food-related, but that’s okay…

Shawafel in the left field corner is gone (no big loss, in this writer’s respectful opinion), replaced by a tater tot and chicken wing stand called “See. You. Tater.”, a spoof on Nats announcer Bob Carpenter’s home run call. They have several varieties of chicken wings, like sweet and spicy BBQ, lemon garlic butter, Old Bay, or mango Caribbean jerk. Or get tater tots with BBQ sauce and mac and cheese, crab queso and crab meat, buffalo chicken, or pork belly, pickled cucumbers and onions. This last is called the “Intentional Wok”, not to be confused with the former Asian food stand.

The popular babka ice cream sandwiches from On Rye on the club level will now be available on the concourse level, along with two ice cream push pops in cool flavors like bourbon and cinnamon.

Other new food stuffs include an Italian sausage burger, Thai chicken skewers over jasmine rice and a chicken fried steak biscuit at Virginia Country Kitchen. The Bud Brew House in center field now has chicken and waffles and some new vegetarian options.

Finally, for those discriminating D.C. beer drinkers, there are some new choices…the District Drafts kiosks now has rotating “guest taps” with a different local brew on tap for each homestand. There’s a new Devil’s Backbone Brewing stand with beers from the local brand that includes a new “Earned Run Ale” with a slightly smaller alcohol content. (?)

Or if you want a mixed drink, stop at “Rum Runners” or “Distillers of the DMV” for classic cocktails with liquor made from rotating local distilleries. Get a red (for the Nats, silly) mojito with strawberries and cheer on the 2017 NL East champs with your newly improved mood.

Want to know more about Nationals Park? Click here.

That’s it for now…if you want to read what’s new in American League ballparks click here. Thanks for reading!

 

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What’s New at the Ballparks 2017 – American League

Posted by Kurt Smith

Since I have not yet been able to get all of the E-Guides up to date as of this writing (I will as soon as I can), here’s a list of the changes in the American League ballparks (covered by Ballpark E-Guides) for 2017:

 

Baltimore Orioles – Camden Yards:

Other than putting in some new sod and creating a 25th Anniversary of Camden Yards patch, the only significant changes to Oriole Park are in the food offerings…and even those are mostly just new stuff at existing stands.

To start with, there’s a new Eutaw Street All Natural Grille, aptly named for its location on Eutaw near Gate A. It features minimally processed foods (“minimally” is a very loose term, isn’t it?) with no artificial flavors or hormones and whatnot. All natural hot dogs, burgers, chicken sandwiches and beefsteak tomato sandwiches. And all-natural cookies and marshmallow bars for dessert.

Esskay Gourmet Hot Dogs will now offer a Burnt Ends BBQ dog with brisket, pickled onions and slaw on a potato roll; Bud & Burgers next door will have a “Chicken Tender Chesapeake” sandwich with chicken topped with crab dip on a potato roll.

Pizza Boli has a new “Meatball Twister” with meatballs, marinara and parmesan in a twisted bread cone; or you can go to the new Club Grille on the club level and get mac and cheese with crab meat, buffalo chicken or pulled pork in that bread cone.

The TAKO Asian Bistro now has fresh dumplings with chicken, mushroom, beef and vegetables; Baseline Burgers has chicken tenders with buffalo, Thai chili or garlic parmesan sauce.

The popular Chipper stand has a cool new option…the Pork Rinds Chipper, pork rinds with three varieties of toppings: bacon bits, shredded cheddar and cheese sauce; pulled pork, guacamole and pico de gallo; or crabmeat, Old Bay and scallions.

Fortunately, Boog’s is still available…

Want to know more about Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Click here.

 

Boston Red Sox – Fenway Park:

The bit-by-bit evolution of America’s oldest ballpark continues. The Red Sox have yanked out a portion of the awful right field grandstand seats and added “Tully’s Tavern”, for their new partnership with Tullamore Dew Irish whiskey. There is a full bar, stools and tables and standing room space, and big televisions to watch the game without a big pole in the way. Tickets for this section can be as low as $35 a game.

The Sox have added 120 new seats on the first and third base side, and there are new day-of-game suites on the Pavilion level that can accommodate 12 people of extraordinary means. The EMC Club is now the Dell EMC Club and the EMC level is the Dell Technologies Level. There is also a new “Strega Deck” space for parties and events; it doesn’t appear that this has a view of the field. There is a new video board where the Cumberland Farms sign used to be, so fans in the center field bleachers and atop the Green Monster have a view of the stats.

The Red Sox have a new official pizza: Regina Pizzeria has replaced Papa Gino’s as the Fenway Park pizza offering. The pizza stands will also have a meatball in a bread cone.

Yankee Lobster (yes, Yankee lobster…SMH) will serve their lobster rolls (which I presume means Legal Seafoods is out) at the Fish Shack on Yawkey Way and in the concourses. Savenor’s Market on Yawkey now has a short rib grilled cheese sandwich. There is a third Tasty Burger location inside Fenway now.

The Big Concourse in right field will have a new stand with rotating menu items each month.

Other new food items? Canadians will like this one: the Lobster Poutine Stak is a bed of steak fries with lobster bisque, chunks of lobster meat and chives. Clever, eh? They also have a Lobster Melt grilled cheese sandwich with lobster beef, Muenster cheese and tomato, and a “Surf & Turf Kebab” with steak tips, shrimp, and peppers on a long roll. You should be able to find all of these in the Big Concourse somewhere.

And you can now build your own salad and get a kids meal with PB&J or grilled cheese sandwiches. For dessert there are new “Cookies N’ Creamery” stands with sundaes, creamsicles, hard ice cream and freshly baked cookies. Hood is still the official ice cream.

Speaking of kids stuff, there are more virtual reality toys in the Kids Concourse now, like a VR batting cage where fans can feel what it’s like to hit against pro pitchers at Fenway. It keeps getting better for the kids.

Want to learn more about Fenway Park? Click here.

 

Chicago White Sox – Guaranteed Rate Field:

The Miller Lite Bullpen Bar in the right field stands has been rebranded as the Craft Kave, and fans will be able to choose from over 75 beers from 38 breweries, many of them local to the Chicago area. And a selection of eight burgers. They’ll even have someone (I can’t get over how cool this is), help you make a food-and-beer-brand-pairing recommendation. Folks, this is why you need me. Can you imagine missing out on that?

Anyway, speaking of beer, the White Sox have a new official import beer…Modelo, which is based in Mexico and is an outreach to the Latino fan base for the Sox. There’s a new “Casa Modelo” beer stand in left field. Miller Lite’s partnership with the Sox is apparently no more.

The White Sox have created a new party suite called Suite 134, strongly hinting at the location. They’ll have a food and beverage package for as many as 25 people, and some parking passes will be included in that. The Home Plate Club is now the “Guaranteed Rate Club”.

And Chicago being the foodiest of foodie towns, there’s some cool new stuff on the Guaranteed Rate Field menu:

The Wok-Off: Egg lo mein noodles, fresh vegetables, grilled chicken and garlic sauce. Looks like Wow Bao is gone and replaced with the Wok Off stand.

The “Heater”: a Johnsonville jalapeno cheddar sausage topped with spicy cole slaw and Sriracha mayo. Might want to talk with that beer expert about this one.

South Side Burger: A burger topped with Italian beef and giardiniera. Only in Chicago.

Triple Play BBQ Sandwich: That jalapeno cheddar sausage again, this time with Vienna Beef smoked brisket and pulled pork.

Deep dish pizza: Beggars Pizza is bringing a deep dish option to avoid obvious inferiority comparisons to the Giordano’s deep dish up the road at Wrigley.

The club level eateries will feature high end tacos, vegetable salads, a chicken margarita sandwich (!), “choco kebabs” and a truly marvelous 16” brisket mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich that looks amazing. Share it though…

Want to know more about Guaranteed Rate Field? Click here.

 

Cleveland Indians – Progressive Field:

The Indians welcome craft beer drinkers, and they’ve added a new craft brewery stand…the Ohio City-based Market Garden. The Market Garden features four of their home grown brews: Progress Pilsner, Prosperity Wheat, Citramax and Hellamango India Pale Ale. (I had the Hellamango and it was fantastic.) The stand sells slider burgers in various flavors.

In addition to the Market Garden, the Hop Stop will be selling beers from several Cleveland-area breweries.

And finally, Progressive Field becomes more of a party destination with 11 suites on the third base side now converted into “pennant party” suites that can accommodate numbers from 24 to 240.

Fortunately, the Barrio nachos remain.

Want to learn more about Progressive Field? Click here.

 

Detroit Tigers – Comerica Park:

The Tigers took some of the wild and wacky stuff off of their novel food menu, like the queso pork rinds and bacon with deviled eggs. But they’ve got plenty of interesting stuff to take their place…like the Coney Dog Pizza.

Little Caesars is now offering a deep dish pizza with beanless chili sauce, mozzarella, white onions, sliced hot dogs and yellow mustard drizzled on it. Given all the wacky hot dog offerings especially in Detroit these days, it actually isn’t as unusual as it sounds. Imagine a pizza Coney dog and this is just kind of like that.

The Tigers’ other newest wacky dog offering is the Hawaiian dog…a dog with pineapple, ham, jalapenos, bacon bits, BBQ sauce and red onions.

More food offerings include shawarma…not just a shawarma sandwich but even shawarma nachos. It’s pita chips with chicken, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, garlic sauce and hummus. There are also bratwurst poppers with jalapeno and cheddar. They’ve added a Cuban sandwich to the menu as well.

The deep-fried Oreo has been replaced with a deep fried Snickers…which seems obvious. But if you want to avoid that fried stuff you can get a strawberry shortcake instead.

Want to know more about Comerica Park? Click here.

 

New York Yankees – Yankee Stadium:

The Yankees tore out the bleachers sections closest to the restaurant in center field (now called the 1893 Club), and replaced them with standing room areas and drink rails; the Frank’s RedHot terrace overlooks the visitor bullpen and the Toyota Terrace overlooks the Yankees’ bullpen. The space on top of the bar has also been revamped and is now the Masterpass Batter’s Eye Deck, and there are two Budweiser Party Decks on the Terrace level.

All of the new standing options have full bars and unique menu items: The Toyota Terrace features baos with chicken, beef or mushroom; the RedHot Terrace has “Yankee Dinger” mini burgers; and the Masterpass Deck has a French onion dipped sandwich. Yum.

To go with all the cool SRO space, the Yanks now offer a “Pinstripe Pass”…just $15 gets you into the ballpark and your first drink is on them. The Yankees also now offer much lower prices on Grandstand seats for most games. Nice of them.

Gone, apparently, are Carl’s Cheesesteaks and Brother Jimmy’s BBQ. In their place is Jersey Mike’s and Mighty Quinn’s, respectively. I live near a Jersey Mike’s and like their cheesesteaks, so with no disrespect to Carl’s I’m okay with that. Mighty Quinn’s is a BBQ mini-chain in the city and the Yankee Stadium outpost has brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, wings, “dirty fries” topped with burnt ends, and a “Brontosaurus Rib” that is smoked for 16 hours. Top it off with S’mores bread pudding.

Another new food stand is Bareburger, another New York chain that offers an alternative to Johnny Rockets (which is still available) at the Stadium. Bareburger offers healthier options like a bison burger, a black bean burger, and turkey burger, and they’re all organic. The Lobel’s stand that has been around since the Stadium opened now has a meatloaf burger and a grilled chicken sandwich.

Finally, the kids can work off all of this food in the new Sunrun Kids Clubhouse, on the Terrace level in the right field corner. It’s shaped like a baseball field with gloves and bats to jump around on, and wiffle ball tosses and other interactive games. And it’s shaded from the sun on hot days, which is definitely nice. You now have a place to bring the kids.

Want to know more about Yankee Stadium? Click here.

 

Tampa Bay Rays – Tropicana Field:

The Rays have put in a new layer of turf in their indoor facility, and from the pictures I’ve seen it looks rather nice. The Trop gets a bad rap for being indoors and carpeted, but the Rays have done a lot of great things with it.

There’s a much-needed new way to get to the Trop from Tampa…the Cross-Bay Ferry. It departs from Tampa at the Pirate Water Taxi dock and drops riders off at the St. Petersburg downtown waterfront. From there fans can use a free PSTA shuttle to the game and back afterwards. It’s not very conducive to, say, heading home early, but it’s a great alternative to the miserable traffic that keeps many Tampa area fans home. You can park very cheaply at the Tampa dock, and it’s accessible from the TECO streetcar. For more information on the ferry, visit https://crossbayferry.com.

Incidentally, I presume this means you can use that free shuttle even if you’re parking in downtown St. Pete, as described in the Tropicana Field E-Guide.

The Rays already offer significant ticket discounts on weekdays; you can now get a kids ticket for just $2 on Tuesdays, and seniors can get a $15 press level ticket on Thursdays.

New food…there’s now a Fish Shack with fish sandwiches, fried seafood baskets and garlic crab fries (sold!); and the Urban Dugout (from the folks at the Urban Restaurant Group) will have a stand selling a chicken and waffle cone…fried chicken with syrup in an ice cream cone. With homemade bacon jam at the bottom. Love that. They’ve also added a new craft beer from Green Bench called the 4-seam American Lager, and they’ve added more brands of wine and a stylish Bloody Mary to the drinks menu.

Want to know more about Tropicana Field? Click here.

 

Toronto Blue Jays – Rogers Centre:

The Blue Jays now have a partnership with StubHub Canada, making them the Official Blue Jays Third Party Ticket Seller or some such thing. StubHub will provide pricing guidelines for sellers and virtual view from seats for buyers. Not to mention downloading tickets on your smartphone and eliminating the need for souvenirs. Fortunately you can still print tickets at home.

The Jays have brought back the beer cans (presumably including the large “tallcan”), following the can-throwing incident in the wild card game playoff of 2016. The ban was temporary, apparently, and for the moment MLB and the Jays are unconcerned about it happening again.

Not too much new on the food front, as far as I can tell…nachos are still the go-to thing at the Centre. But there is a Grilli cheese sandwich, named for Jays reliever Jason Grilli, and for the moment proceeds from sandwich sales are being donated to the Jays Care Foundation, which is pretty cool. (April is National Grilled Cheese Month, not sure if that’s a Canadian or American thing.)

Want to know more about Rogers Centre? Click here.

That’s what I got for now…I promise the E-Guides will be updated accordingly as soon as I can. To see updates to National League parks, click here. Thanks for reading!

 

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For Cheap Baseball Tickets, Try SeatGeek

Posted by Kurt Smith

It’s the timeless quest of the baseball fan: to find cheap baseball tickets.

As I’m sure you know, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Baseball teams jack up the prices of the really good seats, especially teams that have become contenders of late and have increased demand for tickets.

You’ve also got all those surprise fees that show up when you’re buying through the team or StubHub, so the listed price of the ticket is less than what you’ll pay. Sometimes much less, and you get a rude and annoying surprise at the checkout screen. And it’s a pain to go to the box office to avoid those fees.

Between team websites and StubHub being MLB’s official ticket resale partner, they’re generally the go-to outlets for buying baseball tickets. After all, they’re authorized, so they seem safer. It’s not easy to trust a website you’ve never heard of with your credit card information.

So, if there was a search engine that listed available tickets from legitimate outlets that you might not have heard of (and might otherwise have trouble trusting), you would use it, right? Or at least, would you add it to your list of sites to search the next time you’re searching for some cheap baseball tickets?

If your answer is “well, yeah, of course I would”, then SeatGeek is for you.

cheap baseball tickets seatgeek

SeatGeek is a search engine for third party ticket sellers. They feature listings from numerous online ticket outlets, like Score Big, Vivid Seats, Tickets Now and many others, including locally based ones like ACE Tickets in Boston.

With each listing of tickets, SeatGeek assigns a “Deal Score” to show the user what kind of deal they are getting on each ticket; you can sort the listings either by price or by Deal Score.

The best part? Well there’s two best parts in my opinion. The first is that the outlets listing their wares on SeatGeek are likely legit. No outlet has a perfect record delivering tickets, but at least you can be reasonably certain that these won’t rip you off. I’ve used SeatGeek numerous times and have never had a problem.

If you want to read more about whether SeatGeek is legit, check out the articles here and here. And here is an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. To be fair, there is this list of complaints about them, but as you can see SeatGeek is there in good faith trying to resolve any issues. If the complaints make you nervous, here’s my suggestion: check the reviews of the vendor selling the tickets through SeatGeek before you purchase them.

The other “best part” about SeatGeek is knowing up front what the ticket will cost. MLB teams and StubHub charge fees that are a percentage of the ticket price, so with the better seats especially you can expect a sizable markup by the time you reach the checkout screen. There are no such surprises with SeatGeek; the price on the screen is very likely what you’ll pay. (Incidentally, keep that in mind when comparing…go to the checkout screen on StubHub or the team website and see the total cost before you compare. Those fees can be large.)

Every time I search for baseball tickets now, I always check SeatGeek in addition to the team website and StubHub. Very often SeatGeek is where I score the best deal. I’ve even gotten tickets for family members and friends and saved them a good chunk of the budget they offered me.

So the next time you’re looking for cheap baseball tickets, definitely check out SeatGeek and compare for yourself. You may find it’s the best source for baseball tickets.

And make sure you use this link, because I like SeatGeek enough to have kept them as an affiliate of mine for several years now.

 

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Why I Use Hotwire On Baseball Trips

Posted by Kurt Smith

I first discovered Hotwire when booking hotel rooms on a ballpark in 2003, and I have been using it so much ever since that paying $100 for a hotel room is something I don’t even consider anymore.

hotwire adI’m sure you’ve noticed how expensive hotel stays are these days. If you book directly through a hotel’s website, you’re looking at close to $100 just to stay anyplace decent, and that’s not even counting the additional markup to stay in an expensive city like Boston. Years ago, before I became independently middle class, I would often stay in a Motel 6 or whatever place accepted AAA coupons.

Have you ever stayed in a Motel 6? The novelty of it may be fun. But it’s basic stuff. You’re kind of happy just to see the bar of soap in the shower. But there’s a reason Motel 6 and Super 8 and Days Inn are so popular.

Sites like Travelocity and Expedia are nice for searching for hotels, I have no beef with them, but you’re not going to get the lowest price there. In fact, in most cases you’ll get a better deal just going through the hotel website.

I don’t mind paying more for a nice room. I’ve stayed in Doubletrees and thought they were worth the few extra bucks. But if I can get that room for $45 instead of $120, I’m going for it.

Hotwire makes that possible for me.

Hotwire lists rooms that hotels have trouble occupying and are willing to offer for a discount price. You can sort hotels in your search by star rating, by a high level of positive reviews, by geographical area and by amenities. If you want a three star place with free breakfast and a pool near the O’Hare airport, and you think at least 80% of the people who review it liked it, Hotwire can find it for you.

Here’s the rub: Hotwire won’t give you the name or address of the hotel until you book it. But I have no problem with that. How many times are we familiar with the area we’re staying in anyway? I’ve had less than stellar experiences staying in popular name brand hotels. There can be a world of difference between two Best Westerns (I like Best Western, just using them as an example). If 90% of the customers like the place, I figure I’ll be fine.

I have gotten some absolute steals on hotel rooms through Hotwire, and it’s still my favorite site for lodging. Oh, by the way, you can get inexpensive rental cars and flights through Hotwire too, and I’ve done very well using Hotwire for things like that too.

Full disclosure: Hotwire is an affiliate of Ballpark E-Guides. Even if they weren’t I’d happily recommend them anyway, like I do with Megabus. So tell them I sent you and try Hotwire on your next baseball trip.

(Hotwire ad courtesy of Hotwire.)

 

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Why I Love ParkWhiz: Reserve Your Ideal Spot

Posted by Kurt Smith

Whenever I am going to drive and park at the game, especially in a ballpark that’s in the heart of a city, I always check ParkWhiz first for two very good reasons.

parkwhiz

The first is the cost of parking, of course. At Fenway Park in Boston, most of the lots within a half mile of the ballpark cost upwards of $50 or more. At Yankee Stadium in New York, the team lots next to the stadium are $35 as of this writing. I can only imagine what they’ll cost at Wrigley Field this year.

In the heart of the city especially, people want to be close to the ballpark, especially at night. You probably don’t want to be in an unfamiliar place with your kids searching for the garage five blocks away where you parked. So many times, people will pay that exorbitant parking fee.

The second reason is traffic. If you’ve ever been stuck in downtown Baltimore on a Friday night looking for an affordable garage, as I have, you know how utterly exasperating that can be. You just want to get to the ballpark and start enjoying your crab dip fries at the yard, but you’re sitting…and sitting…and sitting at that red light that seems to be green just long enough to empty the gridlock and let one car through.

Sometimes fans don’t realize that it’s not as easy to find a spot as they would think in the heart of a city…especially an affordable spot. Parking is almost always expensive close to the ballpark and traffic is usually backed up for days at gametime. Or there may be another event happening nearby to clog things up even worse.

It’s far, far better to know exactly where you’re going beforehand and have your spot reserved. I have never had a problem in Baltimore since that miserable experience, thanks to ParkWhiz.

Sometimes you don’t want to use public transit. Maybe you’re taking the kids and don’t want to be on crowded subway platforms with them, or you’re with a group of friends and it would be cheaper to just drive and park.

ParkWhiz is something like StubHub for parking. The website and app enable you to search from a decent selection of available spots, and you can sort them by price, popularity or proximity to the venue. You select a spot, print the reservation and take it with you, and you can plug the address into your GPS and get there practically hassle-free. You may still deal with traffic, but at least you know where you’re going and it’s already paid for. If you want, you can Google the address and see what people say about it.

Take it from me, there is a world of difference between searching for a garage at 2 MPH and paying $50 for it and just having your reservation and going and paying half that or even less. Finding a decent parking spot at many ballparks is a hassle I rarely deal with anymore. ParkWhiz saves me money every time I use it, and it’s a GREAT relief to know that my spot will be there.

You should always book your parking beforehand if you’re driving, unless you already know a great inexpensive spot. And I have found ParkWhiz to be the best resource for that.

So tell them I sent you (full disclosure: ParkWhiz is an affiliate of Ballpark E-Guides). Whenever you’re parking at a ballpark in the city, try ParkWhiz first.

(ParkWhiz logo courtesy of ParkWhiz.)

 

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Three Ways To Save Money On Souvenirs

Posted by Kurt Smith

I deliberately haven’t put information on how to save money on souvenirs in Ballpark E-Guides. I may mention what ballparks have an outside vendor scene, where a fan can buy cheaper T-shirts or caps or pennants. But for the most part I don’t go beyond recommending against buying anything in the team shop. Rarely will you find the best deal there.

But since Mike Gagliardi of “Garris and Gagz” informed me that the Yankee Stadium E-Guide is lacking in souvenir buying options—which I can’t argue—I thought I would offer three tips on how to acquire your mementos without shelling out a nice meal’s worth of money.

So here we go:

save money on souvenirs free shirt

Here’s the best part: you’ll have a shirt to wear to the block party!

1) Use Giveaway Nights. The team website is your best friend when it comes to getting a cap or T-shirt. Every team has a promotional schedule in the “Schedule” section of the website. There are always giveaways of T-shirts, caps, bobbleheads, tote bags, whatever. The Cubs actually give away gloves for those early months in Chicago.

The best part is that very often giveaway nights include a souvenir because they’re typically not the kind of night that fills the ballpark. Many teams have things like “T-Shirt Tuesdays”, largely because Tuesday isn’t a great attendance night for most of them. So not only do you get a free team lunch box, you can often get tickets very cheaply for that game. On two occasions I took advantage of my free Orioles birthday ticket on T-shirt nights.

An Orioles game and a T-shirt absolutely free. And they say baseball isn’t affordable.

save money on souvenirs mo-saver

I’m just here for the gear.

2) Find a Local Sporting Goods Store. If you’re looking for a T-shirt, cap, jersey or other gear especially, you can pull up a map and dig up the nearest Modell’s or Sports Authority, or even a Walmart for that matter, and in those stores you can find these things far cheaper than in the ballpark.

As common as such stores are, if you’re visiting a city you shouldn’t have any problem finding one, and it’s usually worth the side trip to get a T-shirt for $12 instead of $30 in the ballpark. The only drawback is that the selection might not be as good. If you’re looking for selection, try one of the touristy areas of the city, e.g. St. Louis Union Station or Underground Atlanta, and see if any stores there have what you’re looking for. It might be a little more, but still cheaper than at the game.

save money on souvenirs reds community

Help your fellow man and win prizes. Win-win!

3) Volunteer For A Team Function. This is a lesser known option but is a great way to score T-shirts, autographed memorabilia, even tickets with some teams. In the Community section of each team’s website, there are usually functions like a 5K run or a blood drive that includes gifts for participants. Teams with troubles at the gate, like the Pirates, will even throw in tickets for people giving their time.

Plus you’re helping out the community and making the team look good, and at least one of those two things is worth it on its own.

So there you go; three ways to save money on souvenirs at the ballpark. Perhaps I should start including these tips in Ballpark E-Guides…but I’ll try to come up with some more deals before I do so.

 

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Gluten-Free At The Ballpark: Some Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you are the proud possessor of a gluten allergy, you might think it’s next to impossible to eat gluten-free at the ballpark. But fortunately, that is not the case anymore.

how to eat gluten-free at the ballpark menu

The MENU is there. You have to look harder for the food.

Because my wife is afflicted with celiac disease, it makes finding food at any recreational event somewhat difficult. Obviously the classic hot dog with the bun is out, as is pizza, soft pretzels (in most cases), pretty much most of the menu—and perhaps most sadly, beer, although that is a big money-saver.

Fortunately, baseball teams are far more customer-oriented these days. Teams are not only expanding their menus in a big way, they are also going above and beyond to accommodate people with needs: peanut-free suites, vegetarian and kosher items, and yes, gluten-free selections.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for a day at the ballpark, so here’s a few things you should do before you go.

gluten-free at the ballpark turner

It’s amazing how much stuff can be had without wheat.

1) Gluten-Free at The Ballpark Tip #1: Visit the Team Website. Many teams will tell you what foods are available at the ballpark for vegetarians and celiacs; some teams will even have a stand dedicated to serving gluten-free items only. The Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Braves, Rays, Yankees and Nationals all have stand alone concession stands for celiacs, with things like dogs or BBQ sandwiches on gluten-free buns, gluten-free cupcakes or brownies, pizza sometimes, nuts and other snacks, and Redbridge or another brand of gluten-free beer.

In the ballpark section of the website, there’s usually an Amenities Map. This will tell you the location and items sold at each concession stand; if they don’t have a stand for gluten-free items they might have some items at their regular concession kiosks.

If you don’t see any of this information, it doesn’t hurt to e-mail the team and ask them what they can do for you. Usually they’ll get back to you with all the information you need; it’s highly probable they’ve heard the question before.

gluten-free at the ballpark turner field dog

From Turner Field. Wife was able to enjoy a ballpark dog.

2) Gluten-Free at The Ballpark Tip #2: Bring Your Own. It’s not much of a secret anymore that you can bring your own food into the ballpark, so it’s no problem to bring a small bag of Cheetos, Rice Chex, peanuts or anything else your stomach will allow you to legally snack on. You can’t bring alcohol, but at most ballparks you can bring in sealed drinks.

This is an especially nice thing at a place that doesn’t have a dedicated stand for celiacs; you can bring in your own hot dog roll and ask for that footlong dog without the bun.

gluten-free at the ballpark sign

I feel better already!

3) Gluten-Free at The Ballpark Tip #3: Watch for Awareness Nights. I’m seeing this more and more these days—Celiac Disease Awareness Night at the ballpark. It usually just means they’ll tell you where the gluten-free food is, and you might get a discount on tickets. If you sign up for the team’s ticket alert newsletter, they’ll let you know when it’s coming. I know the Phillies and Mets do this, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones.

gluten-free at the ballpark harry the ks

Didn’t have enough chalk for the gluten-free specials.

4) Gluten-Free at The Ballpark Tip #4: If All Else Fails… You can always try the ballpark restaurant for a meal before or after the game. Most all ballparks have a restaurant attached these days, and they’re often part of a chain that should have at least some experience in serving folks with allergies…Miller Park in Milwaukee has a TGI Friday’s, Yankee Stadium has a Hard Rock Café, and Comerica Park in Detroit has the Beer Hall and Corner Tap Room attached. Most times you can enter and exit the restaurant without having to leave the ballpark.

The ballpark restaurant is much more likely to be able to accommodate your allergy needs, since they’re serving different kinds of food all day long. If you can’t go for a burger without the bun, there will probably be nachos, chili, chicken salads, and a selections of other things that should be safe.

So there’s four tips that should make going gluten-free at the ballpark much easier on you, since it’s awful tough to enjoy the game without at least a hot dog. Teams are great about this these days, so the ballpark is at least one place where you shouldn’t have to worry about what to eat.

 

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How To Find Healthy Food At The Ballpark

Posted by Kurt Smith

Finding healthy food at the ballpark isn’t easy. The multitudes of food offerings at ballparks, often celebrating local flavor, are wonderful but can be overwhelmingly tempting, especially when one knows they’ll be doing some walking off of the calories.

Despite what I do here, I’m not at as many ballgames as people think. And since I make an effort to eat healthy most of the time, when I’m at the game I usually think it will be okay to have a dog or two and maybe one of the popular sandwiches or fries at the ballpark. I love a good Federal Donut or AJ Bombers Burger, so I’ll park farther away if that helps me walk it off.

healthy food at the ballpark pizza

Well, someone’s gotta eat it.

But daily sustenance of this kind probably isn’t a wise choice (or an economical one, for that matter) for someone with season tickets, or for someone who is on a baseball tour and needs to stay sharp and not get sick before they point their car at the next ballpark.

So just so you have an idea, I’ve provided some tips to help you keep it healthy when you’re cheering on your heroes at your or another ballpark.

healthy food at the ballpark smoke shack

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

1) Look At The Menu. All teams now feature “concession maps” on their websites; these maps will not only help you find food stands, they’ll also let you know what’s offered at each of these stands. In most cases, you can find veggie dogs or veggie burgers, and you can find out where they’re handing out smaller (and cheaper) portions for the kids. They even list the drinks, and you may find a spot where something like juice is available as opposed to beer or soda.

healthy food at the ballpark mamas of corona

The underrated star food item.

2) Seek Out The Deli. Most ballparks have something of a delicatessen-style concession stand—there’s the Boar’s Head Deli in Yankee Stadium, the East-West Delicatessen at Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay, or the popular Mama’s of Corona at Citi Field in New York. Most of these places will offer either a vegetarian sandwich of some kind or a wrap version of whatever sandwich they make. Sometimes both.

healthy food at the ballpark bring your own

Two bags of peanuts were sitting on the table, and one was a-salted.

3) Bring Your Own. As you certainly know if you’ve bought a Ballpark E-Guide, most all ballparks will let you bring in a bag of goodies of some kind. It’s a given that you can bring in trail mix (which is the S&M of snack food in my opinion, but some people like it) or fruit or another healthy snack.

There’s usually some eateries near the ballpark, or at least near a train station you might be using, that can sell you a healthier sandwich than what is available inside. Yankee Stadium in New York, Wrigley Field in Chicago, Comerica Park in Detroit, and Progressive Field in Cleveland among several others all have Subway stores within a short walk of the ballpark (a few ballparks have Subways inside as well, but don’t pay those prices if you don’t have to).

healthy food at the ballpark all you can eat

Should it be “All you care to eat”?

4) Avoid All You Can Eat Seats. This probably goes without saying. I don’t care that at some ballparks, like PNC Park in Pittsburgh, salad is one of the all you can eat offerings. To have unlimited access to possibly uncooked hot dogs, burgers, heavily buttered popcorn and nachos with that thick mystery liquid they call “cheese sauce” is asking for a stomach that will be very angry with you, and a lot of calories that you aren’t going to walk off heading back to your car unless you parked in a rival city.

healthy food at the ballpark beer hall

It’ll get packed once the vegan burger is added to the menu.

5) Try The Ballpark Restaurant. Instead of buying a hot dog and some nachos and sitting them on your lap or on a counter where they risk bird droppings, try one of the sit-down restaurants that all ballparks have today. Yankee Stadium has a Hard Rock Café and NYY Steak; Miller Park in Milwaukee has a TGI Fridays; Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Citi Field in New York both have a McFadden’s. Most of the in-ballpark eateries aren’t likely to be much more expensive than you’d expect at a typical restaurant, and with a full menu of choices in front of you, you can order a chicken sandwich and some vegetarian chili before the game, making that cheesesteak far less tempting later.

That’s five tips that should help you the next time you’re at the game and thinking that maybe you should back off of the two-foot chili and cheese dog or the loaded Old Bay extra salty fries. Those things might be okay as an occasional indulgence, but they won’t help your chances of winning a triathlon.

$219.53.

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?

Click here to spend less and enjoy more at the ballpark.

 

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Ballpark Food Ideas: What Should I Eat At The Game? (Part 2)

Posted by Kurt Smith

In a previous installment of this blog, I told a story of being in a ballpark that I didn’t know too much about and looking for ballpark food ideas. Not an easy thing if you don’t know going in what is available, as I found out.

But I’ve thought about what sort of tips I could give people who haven’t yet ordered a Ballpark E-Guide, and suddenly find themselves in a situation where there are so many great options and they don’t want to miss out. Here’s some tips for you:

ballpark food ideas line for harrys

Must be Dollar Dog Night!

1) Don’t Miss More Than An Inning In Line. At Citizens Bank Park in Philly you’ll be waiting in line for Tony Luke’s or Campo’s cheesesteaks. There’s always a line for the Shake Shack at Citi Field, where people salivate to sink their teeth into a Shackburger. Yankee Stadium usually has a line for the Lobel’s sandwich. All of these are pretty good, but there are always great alternatives…you can get great platter at Bull’s BBQ in Philly, there are other great burgers at Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium has some crazy sandwiches. If you want to try a Shackburger, get there when the gates open and jump in line then.

ballpark food ideas big cat court

Nothing like big cat eyes watching me eat.

2) Look For The “Food Court” Equivalent. At Camden Yards it’s Eutaw Street; at Fenway Park it’s the Big Concourse; at Comerica Park in Detroit it’s the Big Cat Court. Most every ballpark has one or two areas where almost all of the unusual food choices at the ballpark are represented. This will spare you from footing it around the rest of the concourse areas, since just about anything you might want is a short distance away and you can have a good look at everything.

ballpark food baltimore

As opposed to “unofficial” refreshment.

3) Stay Low. If you have an upper level seat, you might want to get something to eat before you make it to your spot, since at most ballparks there are many more options on the lower level. I can’t think of an example of a stand that was available on the upper level of a ballpark that wasn’t anywhere on the lower level. Not saying it never happens, but it’s rare.

ballpark food barrio nachos

If you grab the first hot dog you see, you could miss this.

4) Be Patient. Look around and don’t make a decision until you know most of what is available. If you don’t mind the walk, you can usually circle the entire ballpark on the lower concourse. Many times I’ve gone into a venue I wasn’t familiar with, grabbed a generic dog and then saw the loaded fries or cheesesteak nachos and thought, man if I still had money left and an empty stomach I’d be all over that!

ballpark food ideas nuts on clark

The store is just a block away from the stand inside the ballpark.

5) Bring Your Own Peanuts And Sodas/Water. Have some money left over for the good stuff.

There’s five generic tips that should make things easier if you don’t have a menu on hand. We get a finite amount of ballgames in our lives…eat well at every one of them.

$219.53.

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?

Click here to spend less and enjoy more at the ballpark.

 

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Ballpark Food: What Should I Eat At The Game? (Part 1)

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’ve been to a game recently, you know that there is ballpark food available for every taste. Not only is there usually a restaurant or two on the premises now, but out in the concourse areas you can find pizza, burgers, barbecue joints, delicatessens, vegetarian and kosher choices, and there’s even Asian- and Mexican-style cuisine at some ballparks.

ballpark food chicago dogs

“You haven’t tried a BISON dog yet?”

And that food staple that is every bit a part of baseball as the RBI, the hot dog, is now available in any format you could imagine. You can get footlong dogs, quarter pound dogs, chili dogs, veggie dogs, or kosher dogs, and depending on the ballpark, you can get them adorned with grilled onions, sauerkraut, cole slaw, hot peppers, even Froot Loops.

It used to be so simple. Ballpark food was something one never even considered. Oh sure, maybe I got nachos or popcorn or ice cream to go along with my hot dog and a beer, but I always had a hot dog and a beer.

I got to thinking about this while at a game at beautiful Coca-Cola Park in Lehigh Valley, PA. Even minor league parks these days have a wide variety of food selections, so walking around the concourse, I was struck by that discomforting moment of indecision—which, while probably a good problem to have in a world with so many starving people, still can be troublesome to people who love to eat. What if I pay $12 for a dry, chewy roast beef sandwich, when I could have had the BBQ nachos?

ballpark food coca cola park

At least I know what to drink.

So I decided to walk around the entire ballpark and burn a few calories while I’m deciding. OK, there’s generic stands…don’t want a hot dog or slice of pizza. A barbecue stand. Hmmm, maybe a smoked turkey leg sandwich. There’s the big grill in right field. Philly cheese steak fries sound great, but not exactly the healthiest thing and I’m trying to watch that these days. There’s a gyro stand, sounds good but looks expensive. (Yes, this was all at a minor league park!)

Finally I settled on a chicken burrito, which was $8.50 but gave some good value, about what it would be in one of the Mexican takeout joints like Chipotle that are becoming more common. And relatively healthy, at least by my standards.

No regrets. At least not this time. But doing what I do here, I couldn’t help thinking (WARNING: shameless plug coming!) that I wished I had had a fan’s guide for this fine ballpark. You know, something that told me everything you could eat at the ballpark.

ballpark food primanti bros

Can I get the platter?

If you only get one or two opportunities to visit a venue, you’re probably going to want to try that local favorite, that go-to item that you can only get in that city, right? In Flushing (Mets) it’s a Shackburger; in Milwaukee it’s the brat with Secret Stadium Sauce; and in Philly it’s the Tony Luke’s cheesesteak. The problem is that every ballpark has competition for that great food item. You can get a great slice of Two Boots pizza at Citi Field, an AJ Bombers burger at Miller Park, or a Bull Dog at Citizens Bank Park.

That indecision at the ballpark can make for a real crisis of confidence in your ability to enjoy the ballgame. Well, at least your ability to enjoy the newly inspired culinary part of it.

More tips on this coming…

$219.53.

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?

Click here to spend less and enjoy more at the ballpark.

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Baseball’s Biggest Loss Of 2014

Posted by Kurt Smith

Few things were funnier than my father’s occasional profanity-laden philosophy.

Before baseball’s last collective bargaining agreement, I asked him if he would quit watching if the players went on strike again. Like everyone else, he was angry as hell about 1994 and once said to me that he wouldn’t care if he never saw another millionaire play baseball again.

But this time he said, “You know Kurt, I’ve been thinking about that. In life you have to give up s***. I gave up smoking, I gave up drinking, I even gave up ice cream, and you know what, it’s tough giving up ice cream! F*** it, man, I’m tired of quittin’ s***!”

My dad believed that we should spend our short time here being happy, and nothing made him happier than baseball.

I remember way back when cable television first appeared, and one channel just showed line scores of progressing games throughout the league every night. It was the equivalent of just staring at the out-of-town scoreboard at a ballpark. He’d leave that channel on all night if he couldn’t find anything else to watch, and it was just fine with him.

Later I couldn’t count how many times he told me how much his own father would have loved the baseball packages that today enable fans to watch any game around the league. I never doubted that, because Dad sure loved it. He’d sit in his chair, keep score of two games a night and be happy as a clam.

Dad was baseball smart enough that his fantasy team won him $400 one season. Most years, though, his teams were hobbled by injuries. It drove him nuts. In our phone conversations he would spew his frustration: “You aren’t gonna believe this Kurt, this is beautiful!” And then he’d list his dozen or so stars that were on the DL. Sure enough, when they healed, his team would climb up the standings, but often too little too late.

I really believe he might have made a decent GM. Two seasons in a row he predicted the World Series winner in July.

In 2003 he declared the Marlins to be the team and didn’t blink twice when Josh Beckett shut down the Yankees in Game Six of the Series. He probably wasn’t the slightest bit surprised at the Cubs’ collapse in the Bartman game, either.

The following July he went out on a limb, defied the baseball gods and picked the Red Sox.

Back then I bought into the Curse—not so much because I really believed it existed, but because so many people did that it affected players and managers on the field.

Take the 2003 ALCS (please), when Red Sox manager Grady Little was too paralyzed to notice that the Yankees were pounding everything Pedro Martinez was throwing, and the Sox lost a game they should have easily won. I e-mailed Dad the next day and said “it ain’t the Curse of the Bambino, it’s the Curse of the Bad Manager!”

He agreed, adding that the confusing part was that he’d been bitching all year to his girlfriend Carole…who wouldn’t have had a clue what he was talking about…that all year long Grady spent games changing pitchers until he found one the other team could hit.

So when he picked the Red Sox, I said “OK, talk to me in November.” On October 28, 2004, the day after the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years, Dad sent me this e-mail:

Hey Kurt—

Remember when I picked the Red Sox to win the World Series and you said “Talk to me in November?”

I can wait until Monday.

Love,
Pop

Despite the dig, I was duly impressed. His streak ended in 2005 though; he picked the Braves.

Not long ago Dad told me that he’s in trouble if God is a Yankees fan. His father was a Red Sox fan who used to root for the Yankees’ plane to crash. My father grew up a Yankees fan who idolized Mickey Mantle. Somehow the two still spoke to each other.

In his thirties Dad outgrew his misguided support of the Evil Empire and became an Orioles fan, while the Smiths lived in Towson just minutes away from Memorial Stadium. With the switch he raised a family of loyal O’s fans, who by definition despise the Yankees.

But after about ten years of Peter Angelos, Dad had had enough and switched his allegiance again…reaching the legal limit for one lifetime…this time to the Red Sox, his father’s team. He may have played a part in breaking that Curse. After all, he believed in the Red Sox in 2004. Maybe that was all it took.

During the mini-uproar when Derek Jeter was busted pretending to be hit by a pitch, my father shared with me something his father once told him: “Bill, ain’t none of them Yankees are any damn good.” He added, “You know what, Kurt? He was right.”

Dad possessed a typical Red Sox fan’s attitude toward the Yankees, but he especially disliked Derek Jeter…and the obligatory gushing press towards the Yankee great. He never bought into the Jeter Is God mentality, ever, never missing a chance to point out how overrated a fielder he was, and always letting me know when “the greatest player ever hit another 200-foot pop-up over that bull**** right field fence in Yankee Stadium again!”

That was Dad. He loved the game of baseball and especially loved going against conventional wisdom. He knew that Cole Hamels was the real ace on the Phils; that Rick Ankiel’s switch from being a pitcher to an outfielder was far more historic than the press it got; that Tony La Russa was overrated as a manager and that the American League was always superior. In June of last season, he dismissed the Yankees’ strong start and assured me they wouldn’t make the playoffs. He was right about that, too.

Dad could forgive you for not knowing the game like he did, so long as baseball knowledge wasn’t part of your job description. His disdain for the Philadelphia sports media was legendary. He had no patience at all for WIP hosts or Inquirer writers—people who were somehow paid to cover baseball while knowing so little. Throughout the season Dad could always tell you what was really going on with the Phillies or any other team, and if you gave a hint of parroting something Angelo Cataldi said, he would dedicate the next few minutes of his life to making sure you never did it again.

He would have been great on the radio, especially in Philly. Whether he was talking baseball, politics or anything else, Dad didn’t have a PC bone in his body.

For those who knew him well, it was one of the most endearing things about him. His notorious cantankerousness effectively masked a sensitivity that could melt the coldest of hearts. No one who dared argue baseball with him would ever believe it, but he really was a sweet, generous, kind-hearted man. Carole, his children, and his closest friends all knew that.

I’m not going to just miss my father. I’m also going to miss the most knowledgeable and dedicated baseball fan I ever knew.

Welcome to heaven, Dad. Go give those lazy sportswriters hell, if there are any.

 

Kurt and Dad

William D. Smith 1939-2014.

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Should I Buy Baseball Tickets On Craigslist?

Posted by Kurt Smith

People often come up to me and matter-of-factly ask, “Kurt, I’ve been thinking of buying baseball tickets on Craigslist. But should I? Can that medium be trusted?”

baseball tickets on craigslist resale zone

They don’t say WHICH signs…

Sports fans love to tell the story of the great deal they scored on tickets once…be it through a scalper, great timing on StubHub, a classified ad, whatever. We love it. It makes us feel so much smarter than the suckers who paid three times the price for the same seats.

Frequently when I am poring through ballpark reviews, one or two folks will talk about getting their tickets on Craigslist, and saving a bundle of cash.

In case you’ve never used it, Craigslist is a website that falls somewhere between eBay and newspaper classifieds. It’s people trying to sell stuff they can’t use to people who can. Sports and concert tickets are routinely sold there, probably in the millions.

I did some research on the deals available on Craigslist for tickets, by looking into what was available for the Phillies Opening Day game last year.

baseball tickets on craigslist diamond club

Exclusively for millionaires and Craigslist members.

I saw Diamond Club seats in Section C, Row 9, being sold from a season ticket holder, for $395 apiece; seats in Row 7 of the same Section went for $849 on StubHub (that StubHub figure, in my opinion, is ridiculously inflated, and it will probably come down if no suckers are found).

Another person had four tickets going for $125 apiece in Section 116; similar tickets on StubHub were $237—this person said they were willing to meet close to their house to deliver the tickets.

So if these people are legit, then indeed there are some great deals to be had on Craigslist. Sellers and buyers also avoid the fees associated with brokers, which drops the prices, especially on high end tickets.

The catch is that unlike with official brokers like StubHub, there are no guarantees to protect you from being scammed, and you don’t have to look very hard for stories about people being taken to the tune of hundreds of dollars buying very authentic-looking tickets.

baseball tickets on craigslist yankees ticket

Check the date…check the date…

In those stories, I’ve noticed that you’ll often read a quote from someone who works for Ticketmaster or another broker, preaching about the dangers of buying tickets on Craigslist. When the Yankees started their own Ticket Exchange, they tried selling the public on the dangers of StubHub.

I didn’t read a lot of articles about Craigslist victims, but the stories I did read made the problem seem a lot bigger than it probably is. One story mentioned a Patriots game where 50 people were turned away with fake tickets. When you think about it, that number is small enough that one clever scammer could have nailed all of them. And that story, incidentally, almost blatantly plugged the “official” NFL Ticket Exchange, even linking to it. Have a look here.

So should you risk Craigslist? I’ve never tried it, but there are ways to minimize the risk. Craigslist advises meeting with the seller in person, in a public place, and they say this will help you avoid 99% of the scams. A blogger added to this…get the person’s phone number, license plate number, any info you can. And bring someone with you, since you’re meeting with a stranger that knows you are carrying cash.

baseball tickets on craigslist citi field

“Authorized” meaning “more expensive”.

Now, if the seller is a season ticket holder, you can verify that with the team. Teams have accounts and information about their best customers and you can ask them if the person you’re dealing with is a legit season ticket holder. You can also ask the seller what other games they’d have. There are ways to flush people out.

Look at the tickets carefully and don’t buy them if your gut tells you something is wrong. Check the date and the opponent. It’s not difficult to produce excellent counterfeits these days, but smudged ink, shoddy paper, or scissor marks are easy to spot. Be especially wary with high demand games, like playoff or Opening Day games.

For the most part, I’m guessing most folks on Craigslist are legitimate, and you can always do some investigation on the seller, especially if they are season ticket holders.

The rules for buying tickets on Craigslist, in my opinion, would be the same as patronizing scalpers, which I’ve done a few times. Use your best judgment, and accept the possibility that you could get ripped off. If it’s happened to you, feel free to air me out and I’ll update this.

If you find the right seller, you might have a great story to tell about the deal you got on Opening Day tickets.

$219.53.

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?

Click here to spend less and enjoy more at the ballpark.

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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.

baseball tickets website address white sox

Just in case your search engine is busted.

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.

baseball tickets stubhub

Inside the ballpark, of course.

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.

baseball tickets seatgeek3) 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.

baseball tickets craigslist

By the time you read the rules, that dude with the tickets is gone.

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.)

$219.53.

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?

Click here to spend less and enjoy more at the ballpark.

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Visiting Nationals Park: Five Tips For Newbies

Posted by Kurt Smith

If you’re visiting Nationals Park in our great nation’s capital for the first time, or if you’re coming from out of town, there are definitely a few things you should know…here are five tips for a great Washington ballpark experience.

visiting nationals park tickets

Call for Walgreen’s tickets today!

Visiting Nationals Park Tip #1: Check the Nats website for deals. The Nats offer some decent deals on tickets for a team that has been contending. If you subscribe to the team newsletter, they’ll send them to you in e-mails. For low demand games especially, the team will often offer buy one get one or discounted food deals.

visiting nationals park standing room

We all need something we can lean on.

Visiting Nationals Park Tip #2) Consider standing room. I could give you some seating recommendations, but if you really want to go cheap, you can go to the Nats box office on game day and get those Grandstand seats for almost nothing. But you don’t have to sit way up there…in the upper level in the outfield are some great food items and lounge areas, and quite a few spots where you can grab a stool and sit and rest your food on a counter. If you don’t mind standing, there are rails to lean on almost everywhere else in the ballpark, just make sure your bladder is empty before you stake a good one.

visiting nationals park metro

The “alternate” entrance to the Navy Yard Station.

Visiting Nationals Park Tip #3) Take the Metro. Advice varies on the best way to get to Nats Park, but the parking situation there is among the worst in baseball. There are a limited amount of lots, and even the ones that are a mile or more away can be $20. The traffic situation for games has improved, but it’s still not much fun if you are there less than two hours before gametime. Even street parking is scarce and expensive. Just take the Metro. It isn’t perfect, but it beats the traffic and parking prices.

visiting nationals Park bens chili

Nothing like sloppy ballpark food.

Visiting Nationals Park Tip #4) Get a Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke. It’s not cheap…ballpark food never is…but save the Shake Shack and Box Frites and that Danny Meyer stuff for your next trip to Citi Field. Ben’s is a real, genuine D.C. institution, and their spicy sausages with chili and cheese are still a go-to item here. There are lots of great choices for food at Nationals Park, like the Jammin’ Island jerk chicken and the Mike Isabella sandwich stands, but try the Ben’s dog first.

visiting nationals park presidents race

They would be proud of their legacy.

Visiting Nationals Park Tip #5) Be in your seat in the middle of the fourth. One of the stories you want to share with people about your first game at Nats Park, of course, is not only who won the famous President’s Race, but also the spectacular fashion with which Teddy Roosevelt lost. And you’ll want to read about it in the excellent “Let Teddy Win” blog the next day.

Finally, if you’re a visiting team fan, expect the locals to be respectful so long as you’re not in their face. Nationals fans have had to deal with visiting Phillies and Mets fans, and they tolerate a lot. They’re nice people, but don’t push them. At least unless you plan on buying hot dogs for an entire section. (Yes, I saw a really loud and obnoxious Mets fan do that once. It’s a goofy goofy game.)

There’s a whole lot more to know about visiting Nats Park; be sure you are prepared in advance with one of these.

 

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Nationals Park Seating: Two Helpful Tips

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Nationals Park seating chart features a wide range of seating and a wide range of pricing. Here are a couple of tips…one to try and one to avoid.

nationals park seating standing room

As you can see, standing room is popular here.

Nationals Park Seating Tip #1: Use The Standing Room. Yeah, I know. You don’t want to stand for the whole game. I get that. I don’t either. But Nationals Park, in my opinion, has probably the best standing room options in baseball for several reasons.

The first is that unlike Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, the standing room spots aren’t designated (and priced accordingly). You can pretty much choose any spot. At Nats Park, you not only have the open concourses in the lower level, but on the mezzanine in the outfield there are numerous places to sit on barstool type seating, and have a place to sit your food or beer. As far as I know, no ballpark has more places to sit and watch the game that aren’t designated paid seats than Nats Park.

The second Nationals Park Seating tip is that up on that mezzanine level in the outfield is everything you need for that social scene that the millennial baseball fans love…there’s a full bar with occasionally discounted brews, several lounge areas with misters for hot days, and as great a food selection as you’ll find, with not only the popular Shake Shack and Box Frites, but also that Jammin’ Island BBQ. If you prefer just a fun time to seeing the pitcher’s facial expression, the cheapest ticket to get into Nats Park works just fine.

nationals park seating bud brew house

I’m sure they have “RBI Nachos” or something like that.

Finally, you have access to the Budweiser Brewhouse (formerly the Red Porch) restaurant and the covered loft on the upper level. It gets packed during rain delays, but on a nice day in the later innings you may be able to snag a table or even outdoor seating with a center field view and have a decent meal with your baseball.

If you just like to have a great time at the game, you can just pick up some very cheap Nationals tickets and have several options of where to enjoy the game. And you’ll have money left over for that jerk chicken sandwich.

nationals park seating bullpen seats

Well, at least you’re in the shade.

Nationals Park Seating Tip #2: Avoid Lower Right Field Seats. There are always some seats in a ballpark that are great in pouring rain. The only problem with that is that you’re not there to watch rain.

The lower right field seats in Nationals Park are completely covered by the second deck overhang and certain sections are tucked underneath the second deck behind the bullpen. The only advantage of such seats would be being able to watch pitchers warm up, which isn’t a bad thing, but otherwise you should avoid these seats.

It’s not a big deal to miss the flight of fly balls, but in today’s ballparks especially you’ll want a view of the entire field, and obviously you’ll lose a lot of it here. On top of that, you’ll have no view whatsoever of the big scoreboard in right field…and this is a key thing here, because I couldn’t see anywhere else where you can see who’s batting or what the score is. The LED boards surrounding Nats Park show mostly ads, even during play. There are TVs in this section to keep you posted on the action, but you probably have one of those at home.

So if you have a choice, you’re better off either sitting in the upper level in the infield, or in the left field seats if you’d like to be closer to the Bud Light Loft and such. But for viewing the game these are not good seats. Unless Strasburg is pitching and you want a close-up of his warm-up tosses.

That’s just two tips for finding the best spot to stay for nine long innings at Nats Park; if you want the full lowdown on the whole ballpark, be sure to get yourself one of these.

 

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Get To Nationals Park: Avoid Ballpark Parking Fees

Posted by Kurt Smith

There are plenty of generally easy ways to get to Nationals Park; you can drive and park of course, but the traffic is rough and parking rates are Fenway-level, so here are a couple of ways to avoid both.

get to nationals park wmata

You know exactly how long you have to stand around.

Get To Nationals Park, Tip #1: Use The Metro. The D.C. Metrorail system is one of the most highly regarded in the country. The trains are clean and comfortable, service is efficient and frequent, and the system covers most anything worth reaching in D.C. proper. If you’re staying in D.C. or live there, it should not be difficult at all to get anywhere in two train rides, and transfers (most commonly at L’Enfant Plaza Station) are free.

Metrorail does something I wish more big-city transit systems would do (are you listening, SEPTA?)—they have signs at the tracks informing you how long the wait for the next train is.

Even from outside the city it’s not hard to find a park-and-ride Metro station. Nearly all of the stations close to the I-495 beltway are park-and-rides, where you can park inexpensively and for free on weekends. There are some you might want to avoid for different reasons, but the majority of them are easy in and out.

get to nationals park half street

Would be nice if you could park here.

Nationals Park is just steps away from the Navy Yard Station on the Metro’s green line. There are two entrances/exits to the station; coming from the train there are signs clearly showing the way. It’s so idiot-proof even a congressman could use it.

Upon emerging from the Navy Yard Station, Nationals Park’s impressive center field entrance is immediately in view—you can see the seats inside the open-air facility—and you pass by numerous food vendors on Half Street hawking hotdogs, water, peanuts and any other snack that you can bring into the ballpark.

As said, it isn’t terribly difficult to drive to Nationals Park, and there is a fair amount of parking. But it is still driving in the city, and not only might you get frustrated with city traffic, but you will pay a nice chunk of change to park anywhere that is less than a mile walk to the park. Coming from a park-and-ride or from another station in the city, you’re spared all of that.

And the train station platforms are pretty cool looking too.

get to nationals park ballpark bus

Tell your friends! And it’s Ladies Night!

Get To Nationals Park, Tip #2: The Ballpark Bus. The Ballpark Bus was hatched by one Brian Bowman, a Nationals fan who doesn’t live close enough to a WMATA Metro station to make taking the train to get to Nationals Park convenient, despite the ease of use for most D.C.-area residents.

Parking at Nats Park is expensive, and driving in D.C. isn’t much fun either. So rather than complain to the Metro people or the Nationals, Bowman came up with his own solution for Nats fans that share his dilemma.

The Ballpark Bus runs from Ashburn and Reston, two areas west of the District that are not covered by the Metro’s tentacles. Bowman worked out deals with local taverns and restaurants for the pickup areas, and some of these establishments will offer food specials with the ride…winners all around.

It’s affordable too…cheaper than driving and especially parking. Just reserve a spot ahead of time, and if the demand is high enough the bus will roll; and if not, you won’t be charged.

What I love about the Ballpark Bus is that it’s a private enterprise—“mass transit on demand” as they call it. I understand that cities require taxpayer-funded ways for people to get to the ballpark and I‘m not knocking it—especially in Washington, where local taxpayers footed the entire bill for the place. The city has to recoup its investment and no one will go if it’s too difficult to get there. But the Ballpark Bus is an independent solution, to a problem that many Nats fans still have.

And of course, putting it in the Nationals Park E-Guide makes me look smart…

Check it out here: www.ballparkbus.com. (Logo courtesy of Ballpark Bus.)

 

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Nationals Park Food: Three Things To Try

Posted by Kurt Smith

The Nationals Park food menu is as diversified as any ballpark’s, and you have an awful lot to choose from, and most of it’s really good.

But since I’ve already covered the Shake Shack and Box Frites in the Citi Field section of this website, here are some things at the home of D.C. baseball for you to try on your next trip.

nationals Park food bens chili

Yes, there is a smoked sausage in there.

Nationals Park Food, Tip #1: The Ben’s Chili Half-Smoke. Ben’s Chili Bowl is a well-known D.C. institution. Its founder, Ben Ali, started his own chili business following his inability to finish dental school after falling down a broken elevator shaft. Eventually he turned a pool hall into Ben’s Chili, developed his outstanding spicy chili recipe, and the rest is history.

Ali passed away in October of 2009, but his greatness lives on in Nats Park. The Chili Half-Smoke “All The Way” is a sausage that is like a kielbasa (but beefier and spicier), topped with Ben’s famous spicy chili, cheese, onions and mustard. They are very generous with the chili, and you need a lot of napkins and a spoon.

Ben’s stands used to get crowded, but they have four locations in the park now and the Shake Shack’s appearance has taken over, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get one these days. And in my opinion, it’s still the go-to food here.

If you want something local, this is still the best spot. Ben’s is uniquely D.C., and uniquely Nationals Park.

nationals park food grilled cheese

If you make it look delicious enough, you can charge almost any price.

Nationals Park Food, Tip #2: Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake Grilled Cheese. Baltimore isn’t the only city close enough to the Chesapeake Bay to make it a crab town, and Nationals Park does quietly have a few crab items of its own at the Chesapeake Bay Crab Co. stand.

I couldn’t help but notice this particular sandwich, a grilled cheese with crab meat on a hefty piece of bread. It comes with chips, which somewhat softens the blow of the price tag. Ballpark + seafood = really expensive.

But if you can splurge, and you’re hungry, grab a bite of the crab grilled cheese. If not, try the crab nachos.

nationals park food jammin island

The only thing missing is Bob Marley music.

Nationals Park Food, Tip #3: The Jammin’ Island Jerk Chicken Sandwich. I wasn’t lucky enough in my last visit, but employees have been known to pass out samples of the Jammin’ Island jerk chicken, which often results in sales.

Spicy jerk chicken goes great with beer, and on some nights you can get a beer cheaper than usual at Nats Park. The sandwich has cole slaw piled onto it. It doesn’t include sides, but you can get them added for a fee.

There are two Jammin’ Island outposts, one near the Bud Light Loft in center field. If you know to get a discounted beer, that’s the place to be.

There are three Nationals Park food items to try, but I don’t mean any disrespect to some of the other choices…there are great Virginia Ham & Biscuits, the intriguing Haute Dogs, and the Kapnos Greek stand upstairs. Be sure to plan ahead.

 
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Do you love to visit ballparks and see live baseball? Subscribe to the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter today, and fill your scorecard with useful and entertaining info about your favorite ballparks, money-saving “tips of the week” for frugal fans, and of course, specials on the incredibly informative Ballpark E-Guides!

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