How can I get decent, but not overpriced sports tickets?
March 11, 2009 3:08 PM   Subscribe

What are people's strategies in getting sports tickets at a reasonable price?

I'm not a season ticket holder for anything, but once or twice a year like to splurge and get some decent seats for NBA or MLB games. Stubhub generally seems like legalized scalping. Craigslist gives me the heebie-jeebies for tickets because of counterfeiting issues.

A friend once told me to wait until <30 minutes before game time and go to the box office and see what returns they have (presumably from players/owners). I tried this once with no success and ended up in nosebleeds.

I'm not looking to pay $5 for a $100 ticket. By the same token, I don't want to pay $250 for a $100 ticket. I just want to get my greedy mitts on a $100 face-value ticket that would otherwise be unavailable to a non season ticket holder...for $100.

Any strategies would be appreciated.
posted by teg4rvn to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It would be helpful to know which city you're trying to score tickets in, and/or which teams interest you. Getting tickets to Red Sox games is a vastly different proposition than, say, Bruins games.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 3:16 PM on March 11, 2009

I don't know about "30 minutes before game time," but back when i used to like baseball I found calling Ticketmaster the morning of the game would turn up season tickets that had been turned in. I got seats right behind the dugout for face value this way several times.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:43 PM on March 11, 2009

The majority of season-ticket holders that have extra tickets are either giving them to friends, or selling them via craigslist, ebay or stubhub. I have bought tickets through all three avenues with varying results. (Never counterfeit, but not always great seats.)

Honestly though, I've had the best results sucking it up and going thru TicketBastard as far in advance as possible. You'll get your tickets at face value and you get to pick your seats. Depending on how much you're willing to pay, you can get seats as good as most season ticket holders. Otherwise, I would suggest you start making friends with some season-ticket holders.
posted by gnutron at 3:50 PM on March 11, 2009

Also, depending on the venue, they will sometimes hold seats that are considered inferior in some way until shortly before the show . But inferior can be very subjective.

Example: There is a section called "loge" at Madison Square Garden. i got seats there a week before a sold-out show because they were considered "partially obstructed" for some reason. When I got there, there was no obstruction at all and I was about 12 feet from where my childhood hero, Pete Townshend was standing onstage.

These kinds of things are specific to the venue, but there are definitely "sweet spots" when good seats are freed up, even after an event is allegedly "sold out."
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:01 PM on March 11, 2009

We have both sold and bought tickets via Stubhub (MLB), and when we bought, we paid just about face value + whatever percentage Stubhub charges.

And since we gave up our season tickets this year, I went online and bought tickets for the games we knew we'd want to go to. If you're not looking at the last minute for games, or games that will sell out in a heartbeat (Yankees-Sox), then just buy them via the team's website, unless that's not an option for some reason I'm missing.
posted by rtha at 4:04 PM on March 11, 2009

If you can stand to miss the first inning or so, you have much more leverage with scalpers outside the stadium once the game has started.
posted by shallowcenter at 5:28 PM on March 11, 2009

If you can stand to miss the first inning or so, you have much more leverage with scalpers outside the stadium once the game has started.

Yeah, after the game has started the scalpers pretty much give them away.
posted by unixrat at 8:48 PM on March 11, 2009

The day of the game is really good to approach scalpers, because they dont want to LOSE money. So, you could get face value pretty easily. I live in Portland, and though we have had 60 consecutive sell outs, it is still pretty easy to get good NBA seats, if you are wary- like on Craigslist. This adivice goes for concerts, too. I once paid face value for sold out Dylan, on the day of.
posted by captainsohler at 9:49 PM on March 11, 2009

Just today I bought quality Citi-Field tickets at face value, albeit for a game nobody's that jazzed about. I was able to do it because I'm a subscriber to the Flushing Flash, which is the Mets' mailing list for ticket purchases. They opened up ticket sales to subscribers before opening them to the general public by giving out a password.

The point being: If you regularly attend a given venue or team's games, become an email subscriber so that you get access to the tickets before most people, then pounce once they become available. This may involve setting alerts for yourself and waking up early, but you pay as few middlemen as possible.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 10:36 PM on March 11, 2009

If there's a particular team that you're interested in, I would recommended finding an online fan's forum and asking the question there. The fans of any given team can tell you where and when to buy your tickets, which games are likely to have cheap/easily obtained tickets, etc.
posted by Jakey at 3:38 AM on March 12, 2009

Response by poster: thanks all for the great advice...
posted by teg4rvn at 11:39 AM on March 12, 2009

Response by poster: Ticketmaster TicketExchange turned out to be a valuable resource. Essentially, season ticket holder *return* their tickets to them and they charge you a $1.95 fee to buy them (e-ticket) This avoids the exorbitant per ticket charges of StubHub. Got $150 seats for $131/ea (center court, PHX Suns, Row 10)
posted by teg4rvn at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2009

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