citifieldAs the 2013 baseball season gets under way, families are planning trips to the ball park. But baseball games, while less expensive than basketball and football, are increasingly pricier. 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.

1. Look for promotions

Weeknight games early in the season are often less expensive, and 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 Crackerjacks)

2. Bring your own food

smilesKids are all smiles at the ball game.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 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)

3. Look for giveaways

If you routinely buy your child a souvenir at the ballpark, you can save some serious dough if you get tickets to 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).

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.

5. Go minor league

Minor league baseball teams have been proliferating, and even in New York, we have options like the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Mets farm team, and the Staten Island Yankees.  Ticket prices are quite reasonable, promotions are frequent, and games are often at family-friendly times like 5 or 6pm.