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Optimizing group outings to baseball games
July 31, 2014 2:04 PM   Subscribe

Let's say I would like to organize 6 friends to go see a baseball game. There's one problem: ticket purchases have to be done at the same time to ensure that people sit together. How is this circle squared?

Ideally, all members of the group would arrive outside of the game, and the ticket purchase would be done at once minutes before first pitch. This ensures that tickets are bought after it is certain that people will not get stuck at work late, since that is usually not known until very late in the day due to late-breaking news.

However, not everyone gets off of work at the same time, the group cannot wait for everyone to arrive at the same time because this would cause an unknown number of innings to be missed.

Alternately, one person assumes all risk and forecasts how many tickets are needed and attempts to buy at the last possible moment, emailing people tickets before heading out the door. (I have learned the hard way not to book the day before.) Because it is rude to overbook, that person must forecast precisely with no margin of error. This is usually me, and there is usually a margin of error.

In your experience, what is the best way of solving this problem so that no tickets are bought that go unused, and that those that arrive before first pitch are able to see the game?

(The alternate solution, which is to just go by my damn self with a scorecard and a half-smoke, is perfectly amenable to me but it might be better for my health if I went with friends once in a while.)
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College to Human Relations (13 answers total)
 
This last second thing seems like madness. When my friends have done this, email is send out a few weeks in advance. One person buys all the tickets and everyone else reimburses that person via venmo or the likes immediately (or usually before the purchase is made). People meet up before the game to distribute tickets, or tickets are emailed around for people to deal with themselves. People are in charge of themselves and since they have already paid, they deal with it if they can't come.
posted by brainmouse at 2:07 PM on July 31 [10 favorites]


Alternately, one person assumes all risk

That's no good. Each person assumes their own risk and decides whether or not they want to commit. One person buys all the tickets, but each group member is responsible for payment... even if they ultimately can't make it.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:10 PM on July 31 [14 favorites]


Everybody interested commits to attend the game (with a max ticket price in mind). There is no forecasting of demand; people have either committed to purchase a ticket or not. Tickets are bought in advance by someone and everyone pays for their share. If people get stuck at work late or other circumstances prevent them from attending, it is their loss and they are still on the hook for the tickets. Adults should be capable showing up as agreed or eating the cost if they cannot.
posted by zachlipton at 2:10 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


Basically the risk should sit with the person who may or may not attend. They should reimburse the buyer either way.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:11 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


The way our friends have done it is for everyone to pay a person upfront (via Venmo), before the tickets are bought, and then that person buys them all. It's the easiest way. That way you don't assume any risk and everyone sits together.
posted by pando11 at 2:20 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


Obviously the best way to do it is stated above, but if your friends are all flakes who can't commit to anything, the alternative is for everyone to buy tickets to the cheapest section when they get there and you all just find some random six seats together. Works for probably all but 3 stadiums this year. Are you in one of those three cities?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 2:28 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


This last second thing seems like madness. When my friends have done this, email is send out a few weeks in advance.

As a function of what my friends and I tend to do for a living (and the fact that we are not yet our own bosses) it is impossible to do this for a weeknight game. Besides, baseball is a sport designed for city workers to drop into a game after work!

The way our friends have done it is for everyone to pay a person upfront (via Venmo), before the tickets are bought, and then that person buys them all. It's the easiest way. That way you don't assume any risk and everyone sits together.


Did not know about Venmo. I have shied away from using other payment transfer options because of fees and the difficulty of meeting up in advance before ticket purchase to wrangle funds. I will look into it!

It is usually the case that my friends will offer to pay me if they flake, but it seems wasteful and I do not tend to chase them about it. When you spend money on friends, it's a gift, not a loan, and I can't be badgering them about debts for my own sanity. (They're not your friends if you're badgering them about money, they're your clients. I badger clients for money.) They will get me a beer someday.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 2:29 PM on July 31


It is usually the case that my friends will offer to pay me if they flake, but it seems wasteful and I do not tend to chase them about it.

This is why everyone pays in advance before the game. Venmo, Square Cash, even PayPal are all your friends here.
posted by zachlipton at 3:03 PM on July 31


I do this damn near weekly and am often the organizer. I buy tickets in advance, and people understand that they're responsible for their ticket if they come or not.

If someone can't come at the last minute they offer it to someone else who might be interested in coming. If they can't find someone, they just pay me the money. I've never had to badger. If they didn't pay me, I'd stop inviting them, but this hasn't come up.

The other strategy is just to say "anyone who wants to go to the game, meet me at 6:30 to buy tickets and we're going inside at 6:45". People can come or not come as they wish. If someone insists on coming late just tell them your section number and they can sort themselves out.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 3:04 PM on July 31


Besides, baseball is a sport designed for city workers to drop into a game after work!
If you are watching it at a bar, yeah. If you're asking someone else to pay for a ticket, then no. Unless someone is hosting/paying everyone pays for their ticket in advance, especially in groups where folks flake. In instances where they can't make it to the game they can give their ticket to someone else or eat the cost themselves. Clearly, they are fine with stiffing you for the costs of unused tickets so they see this as a trivial expense.

They're not your friends if you're badgering them about money, they're your clients
People who don't pay their debts aren't your friends either.
posted by 26.2 at 3:08 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


Yes, I think you're conflating two things here.

When you have friends over for dinner, you're the host. When you organise group tickets for an event, you're the facilitator.

Facilitating is a gift, if you like to look at it that way, but the gift is not monetary. It's being the person who brings people together, who chases down RSVPs, who stalks a website to nab great tickets the moment they go on sale, etc. People who do that are awesome. You're awesome. Your friends have an obligation to reimburse you for the tickets you purchased on their behalf, and it's not anti-friendship to ask them to make good on it. Graciousness goes both ways.

Also, I suspect that if you start insisting on payment, people will flake less. Some folks really do seem to think the money of others is less valuable than their own.
posted by Georgina at 5:34 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


It sounds like seats are relatively easy to come by in your stadium, so I think your best solution is to show up at the game and a few minutes before gametime, buy seats together in a section that's least popular. Don't buy the best available seats in that section, buy them a few rows back from what's already been sold so you're likely to remain surrounded by empty seats.

Anyone who might be coming late can be texted the location of the seats you have already purchased and can buy their own seats near you. The seats around you will likely be empty, and even if they don't get precisely the right ticket to be next to you, they can probably move in to sit near the group in an otherwise empty seat.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:34 PM on July 31


I hope you're not eating the cost of unused tickets. When we go to an event and have unused tickets, we are always able to find someone to buy them off of us. It's not scalping if you're selling for face value or less.

Otherwise, nthing all the advice above that anyone reserving a seat with you in advance is committing financially, whether they make it or not. Maybe you would waive the cost as a "gift" once, under special circumstances, but not more than that.
posted by vignettist at 1:20 PM on August 1


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