The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd,
cliche baseball is back, and to kick off the season, we have ten tricks to score a seat straight from a former season/group ticket representative.
1. There are always seats available.
The worst thing that can happen to a team is to not have a good seat available for a big-time season ticket holder, or a team executive, or anyone else of importance who needs it. As you get closer to game time, and the chance that someone one of these people will need a ticket diminishes, ticket managers are more likely to give the seat out to someone lower on the food chain. Even if a game is “sold out,” stay persistent and you might not only get in, but might get a damn good seat.
2. Windows are for suckers.
Almost every stadium to which I’ve every been has a sales office open to the public. It’s in here where the managers and full-time sales staff reside during pre-game. These are the people who can get you that extra ticket or find you a seat to a “sold out” event. Don’t waste your breath arguing at the ticket window, those people are usually part-time and can’t do much. Plus, it’s much harder to argue when there’s a big line behind you and a big plastic window in front of you. Sales offices usually have smaller lines and a counter without a window – this makes it much easier to negotiate.
3. Trades aren’t just for the teams.
It was always a lot easier for me to find you a good seat if you weren’t going to reduce the total number of seats available. Also, with today’s computerized ticketing systems, it’s a cinch for ticket reps to trade in one set of tickets for another. Further, many teams have programs now where you can go inside the stadium and upgrade your seat. So when you get to that “must-see” game and all that’s left is in the upper deck behind a concrete barrier, take the seats and then negotiate – especially when you get closer to game time (or even after the start of the game…I’ve had great seat open up in like the third inning). Something better will usually open up.
4. Buy odd numbers of tickets.
Everyone wants two, four, or six tickets. This means that bunches of odd number tix remain in good spots when all the even numbers are sold old in that area. So if you fork over the extra bucks for three tickets, you can usually move to a much better location. True, it’s going to cost you some more money, but if you’re willing to get gauged by today’s ticket prices anyway, isn’t it worth a little more for a better view.
5. Go alone, sit near the dugout.
Piggybacking on the last tip: single seats are the bane of a team’s existence – no one wants them. Though any smart sales office will do it’s best not to leave any singles, it happens. This means individual seats can remain available for a long time and be in really go locations. When I sold tickets, we would have singles seats right behind the dugout available during our biggest games even when everything else was sold out to the public.
6. Season ticket holders get big preference on everything.
If you need extra tickets to a game, find a season ticket holder to call for you. Usually, not only do season ticket holders have a special phone number to call to buy their individual tickets, but teams reserve seats especially for them. Remember, it doesn’t matter who’s using the tickets, it only matters who calls for the tickets.
7. I’ll trade you my tickets for just about anything.
Yeah, it might be a bit unethical, but I never made very much money (I didn’t even get commissions) selling tickets. I got four tix to every game, sans really really big games where I got two. I could find friends to take them about once a week, but the other five or six days, I would trade them for everything from discounts at the Men’s Warehouse to free food. So what’s the tip: befriend ticket agents.
8. Be nice, and make a friend.
Just like in any customer service business, be nice and it will be reciprocated. You might also make a friend. If you find a ticket agent and learn his or her name and deal with that person for all your ticket needs, you’d be surprised how helpful that ticket agent can be and what you can get. Everything from free tickets to extra door giveaways may come your way. Plus, I always liked when some customer would call and ask for me specifically – it made me feel good, it made me look good to my boss.
9. Send gifts.
Yes, you’re all going to post that this is self serving, but if you’re a season ticket holder, you want your name to be known in my office when it comes time to upgrade people’s seats. If I get a thank you at the end of each season, whom do you think I’m going to call first when we have closer season ticket seats available.
10. If all else fails, ask for a manager.
Some seats are available only to managers. As with any business, if you have a good reason why you deserve a ticket to a sold out event or why you needs an upgrade, a manager’s the person to talk to if all else fails. Make sure though that if the manager helps you that you write something nice to his or her boss. Sports is a tough business, and if someone hooks you up, the 10 minutes it takes to help them out goes a long way.
Bonus tip: Rules are made to be broken.
We’d have people come in with unused tickets from months ago or rainout tickets that were way past their exchange date (even from previous years). Despite what you’d be told if you called up the general ticket line, we could help you if we wanted. Be nice and you might get free tix to an upcoming game in exchange for your worthless pieces of paper. Don’t complain when they’re two seating levels down though – we are doing you a favor.
Are you an insider with helpful information? Join Whistleblowers Anonymous by writing to us at tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER