Going to a major league baseball game? It could break your vacation budget. Ticket prices are outrageous and you haven’t even parked the car or bought a hot dog yet. Don’t despair! There are ways to save money at the ballpark and still have a great time. Read on for TravelingMom’s best tips.
On a warm summer night, nothing beats taking the family to a baseball game. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, sitting at the game is fun. Music, trivia and interviews play on the giant screen between innings. People cheer, jump to their feet for home runs and commiserate when the home team loses. I’ve even brought my dog to promotional games where dogs can sit with their owners. But taking a family to a game can be expensive. These 5 tips for saving money on a baseball game can help.
How to Save Money on a Baseball Game
In America, summer is all about baseball. We see our hometown games, and ,when we travel, we catch our team on the road, or see a local team for the pure fun of watching America’s pastime.
But baseball games, while less expensive than basketball and football, are increasingly expensive. My family of five New York Mets’ fans can easily drop a couple hundred dollars on premium seats, parking or public transportation, food, drinks and souvenirs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can save with the following tips.
1. Look for promotions.
Weeknight games early in the season are often less expensive. Some teams, like the Mets, offer tiered pricing: games against the Yankees or last year’s World Series winner are the most expensive, but games against the Brewers or Marlins are cheaper. Young kids usually don’t care who the opponent is – they are there to root, root, root for the home team (and get some peanuts and Crackerjacks).
And later in the season, if the team is out of contention, (once again, sadly, looking at you, New York Mets) prices drop. My fellow masochists and I go to meaningless, cheap and fun games late in the season.
2. Bring your own food to a baseball game.
If you want to bring your own food, be sure to check the team’s website to find out what is allowed. Many major league stadiums allow soft-sided coolers and water bottles as long as there is no glass. The New York Yankees, however, don’t even allow you to bring in a bag; my husband had to toss a gorgeous messenger bag on his way to a game (adding more fuel to my anti-Yankee fire).
Even if a stadium doesn’t allow you to bring in your own food, exceptions are generally made for kids. So juice boxes and snacks are almost always allowed in.
Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle you can fill at a drinking fountain. All that cheering can make you thirsty, and you don’t want to overspend on bottled water. Again, rules vary. At Citi Field, you can only bring in empty water bottles. Oakland Coliseum, home to the Oakland Athletics, allows clear factory-sealed plastic bottles of water, soda and juice.
Every stadium bans you from bringing in your own alcohol.
3. Go for the giveaways.
If you routinely buy your child a souvenir at the ballpark, you can save some serious dough if you get tickets to a game on a promotional day. Free baseball caps, bobblehead dolls, t-shirts and bags are common at many stadiums (though the bag-taking Yankees are unlikely to give away bags). Some giveaways are child specific: tiny mitts, notebooks and small shirts. The oversized shirts we get at games we recycle as sleepwear.
4. Consider the cheap seats.
Yes, a field level box gets you close to the action, but bleachers (seats past the outfield) and seats high up still let you enjoy the game and spend less money. Just be careful if you buy bleacher seats for a day game: bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat. If you have to buy baseball caps for everyone to keep the sun out of your eyes, you lose all your savings.
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Seats further from the players are also safer. Although stadiums are adding mesh protection, many of the more expensive seats are where foul balls are hit. Getting a ball at the game is fun. Getting a line drive to the face, less so.
5. Go to a minor league baseball game.
Minor league baseball teams have been proliferating. Even in New York, we have an option like the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets farm team. Ticket prices are quite reasonable, promotions are frequent and games are often at family-friendly times like 5 or 6 pm.
Be careful when you buy tickets, though. Several years ago, we were attending a major league Yankees game in the Bronx and an unwitting tourist had bought tickets to the now-defunct Staten Island Yankees, two boroughs and many dollars away.
At Cyclones games, every Friday night ends with fireworks. And promotional giveaways are frequent.
Bonus tip: Spring training also offers less expensive ticket prices.