Author Archives: vlm
Posted by vlm
How To Save Money On Playoff Tickets
Posted by vlm
The MLB Playoffs are here, and of the six division winners that have already punched their tickets to the postseason, only one…the Boston Red Sox of all teams…have seen a World Series championship since 1988.
Four of these teams haven’t even won a World Series in the ballpark they currently play in…that includes the Cubs…and two teams still haven’t grabbed a World Championship ring in their history. So playoff tickets will be in high demand.
Actually that’s a bit of an understatement. Cubs World Series tickets, should they make it, are starting at $2,000 for standing room.
It may be a little late for some of these tips to be useful, but file this away for next year, because if you’re seeking playoff tickets you can save a boatload of money by planning ahead:
1) Pay attention to the team newsletter.
You should always be signed up for a team’s ticket alert newsletter for any ballpark you plan to visit, of course, but the newsletter will let you know a) when season ticket holders can buy playoff tickets, since they will get first crack at it, and b) when the rest of us can buy tickets through the team, which will most certainly be cheaper than going through the markup.
Most teams give playoff ticket opportunities to folks who put down a deposit on a season ticket plan for the following season. This might be worth considering…you may want to get a friend or two in on it or sell your unwanteds on StubHub. If a team that hasn’t been good in a while suddenly goes deep into the playoffs, chances are good that tickets for the following season will go for much dough on the third party market.
But even if you have no season ticket aspirations, there will be some tickets still available through the team, and you’ll get an e-mail letting you know when they go on sale. You’ll have to be ready to jump on it as soon as they do, but the markup especially for teams like the Cubs will be significant…count on it being at least double the face price.
By the way, the team might hold a contest or an auction for playoff tickets, as the Cubs are doing…
2) Keep checking with the team.
It does happen; players and officials return their extras. Maybe not as much for critical games, but you never know. The point is to remember that playoff tickets especially will almost always be cheaper going through the team than through an agency or a third party.
3) Go for the “if necessary” games.
In my searches I noticed that when teams are making division series tickets available, the tickets for the first two “necessary” games go far more quickly than the game five or whatever tickets. So look into this option if you don’t absolutely have to go; you’re more likely to land a better seat at face price.
The team will refund whatever amount you pay for games that don’t get played (I presume that includes the fees), small consolation for missing the playoff game, but at least it’s safe.
4) Remember the third party market rules.
If you have to go through StubHub or TickPick rather than through the team, you’ll be paying more, obviously, but you at least don’t have to submit to the team’s season ticket demands.
Remember basic rules for using third party sellers: wait until about 2-5 days before the event to pick up tickets, or till the last minute if it isn’t that important to you, and be ready to snap up a good deal if one appears (hard to gauge, I know, just be realistic).
Also, be sure to go all the way to the checkout screen to compare prices; TickPick includes the fees in the displayed cost, but StubHub does not, and you may be very surprised at the difference between ticket prices in similar sections.
You can set alerts on StubHub, but thus far that hasn’t worked very well for me recently. Couldn’t hurt though.
5) Be extra wary of scalpers and Craigslist.
I’ve written before about buying tickets on Craigslist and the potential for fraud, and how it’s generally not worth worrying about being scammed. It’s the same with scalpers. There are some things to know dealing with both, but the large majority of the time they are legit.
During the playoffs, though, when the stakes are higher and the costs of tickets skyrocket, you will occasionally read stories about scalpers and people on Craigslist selling fake tickets. I’m betting we may hear a story about this in Chicago. Just be extra careful.
6) Consider going on the road.
Let’s say you’re a die-hard Cubs fan who can’t put a second mortgage on their house to see a postseason game at Wrigley. Why not look into a trip to D.C.? Or L.A.? Or for that matter, Detroit? The Tigers could still make it as I write this, and we could see a World Series between two teams that are just a four-hour drive apart.
Since you’re reading this now for next season, if you think going to see your heroes on the road might actually be cheaper than seeing your team at home, sometime in mid-August…mark August 15 on your calendar…you should subscribe to the team newsletters of any team you think might make the playoffs. Remember, tickets will almost always be cheaper through the team.
Again, these tips may probably only be slightly helpful now, but if you want to get playoff tickets without losing your shirt, most likely you’ll have to plan well ahead anyway (I’ll re-post this earlier next time). So look into splitting a season ticket deal with a friend (you should probably share the postseason tickets too, just saying), subscribe to team alerts, and get your best practices on with StubHub.
Parking For Free At The Ballpark
Posted by vlm
Recently I interviewed Scott Chamberlain, a prominent member of Ballpark Chasers, and someone who has accomplished a pretty remarkable feat in 2016…he has paid just $2 for parking all season!
Scott graciously took the time to answer my questions and share his tips; hope you enjoy the exchange below.
How many games did you go to this year, and at how many ballparks?
Up to this point, I am at 61 regular season MLB games at 8 different MLB parks and 155 sporting events on the year. I am at a slight disadvantage location-wise as I live in Indianapolis. I say slight because I have six MLB teams within a 4 1/2-hour drive of me yet none within 100 miles from my doorstep. Last season, I attended 143 MLB regular season games at all 30 MLB parks.
How did you find free parking? You can give me a couple of examples. Did you have a long walk in these cases, or were you going through unsavory areas of town?
I find free parking by trial and error. I have become very adept at reading street signage to be absolutely sure that a spot is free. For instance, on the south side of Chicago…there are a few blocks along 31st street that are free at all times and some that have the dreaded pay box. I’ve yet to receive a ticket as I would hate to see a “free” spot become a costly ticket.
Another good example is Wrigleyville. For day games, you can park on most streets around the stadium for free until 5pm. After that, the tow trucks are out in full force. There are some main roads that have free parking at all times. These you have to walk 8-10 blocks but it’s a lot better than paying $15-$40 to park.
Also, I’ve found spots after doing research online or talking with fellow ballpark chasers. My favorite free spot find was given by a fellow ballpark chaser and close friend. They suggested a road southwest of Safeco Field near the port area. Sure enough, a simple six block walk to the stadium was all that was needed. And rather than fight traffic on the way out, it was strategically placed to where I could head south and onto the highway a couple interchanges down I-5 from Safeco.
Free parking is a must for me not only due to budget constraints but also ease of access. I don’t mind walking a mile or so in exchange for beating traffic around the stadium. However, safety is a concern and I will avoid unsavory areas. Miami, Boston, and Dodger Stadium are the three stadiums that I’ve had to pay for parking or use mass transit for as I haven’t found free areas yet.
Where did you pay $2 and why?
The $2 charge for parking kind of sticks in my craw a bit in hindsight. My drive from Indy to Cincinnati in May was longer than expected due to an accident on interstate 74. There was a bobble head that I wanted and I was worried about not getting it. I shunned one of my three “go to” free parking areas in exchange for rushing to the stadium for the giveaway. Even then, it was a metered spot that ended midway through the game so that’s where my $2 came from.
In retrospect, I wish I had parked in a usual free spot to have a perfect parking record this year.
You’re not cheating with this, right? No public transit or anything?
No cheating. When I did my 30 parks/143 MLB games last year, I kept a running total on every single travel expense from flights to parking to the Sunday morning hotel coffee before a game on getaway day.
What interested me about this exercise was the hidden expenses that are had. When going to Chicago for instance, I would always park at a CTA lot for five dollars and take the CTA train in. This would amount to an eleven-dollar move. Meanwhile, I was already in my car and for a few extra miles, could skip that move and park on the street.
New York and Boston are the only cities where I skip driving to games due to traffic or ease of access via mass transit. However, if you are wanting to do a NY/Philly doubleheader, street parking can be had in NY and Philly for a quick get-away.
What do you suggest for someone looking to park for free at the game? What are the hardest ballparks to find free parking, and which are the easiest?
If a fan is going to a game on a budget, parking fees can be a nuisance. I’d suggest arriving a couple of hours early and driving around a little to find good spots. The areas a block or two from the stadium are not necessarily convenient when you consider leaving after the game and fighting outbound traffic.
The easiest parks to find free parking are ones situated in a downtown area. I’ve found that parking on edges of downtown areas and casinos have helped.
The hardest parks have been Boston, LA Dodgers, and Miami.
Do you hope to park completely for free in 2017?
I certainly hope so. I try to go to as many games as possible. It helps the budget to not have to pay to park. Money saved here can go towards a food or drink item at the yard!