How To Get Into A Baseball Game

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.

(Photo: laffy4k)

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


Edit Your Comment

  1. bluwapadoo says:

    11. Live in Pittsburgh.

  2. SpyMaster says:

    Sounds like good advice…better than the fake “confessions” from “car salesmen” and “phone reps.” Fortunately though I don’t have problems getting into baseball games around here…it’s the Minnesota Twins territory…great team, but not so many fans.

  3. TomDaddyDollars says:

    12. These rules only apply if you’re a fan of the Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, or some other team that actually sells out the ballpark from time to time.

  4. @bluwapadoo: the denizens of the 222 salute you astuteness.

  5. 2Legit2Quit says:

    Hahaha a little while back, philly was giving away tickets at a local mall around here and they couldn’t even give ’em away!

  6. everclear75 says:

    13. Or do what I did, get a job with a sports team.
    I work part-time for my local NBA,MLB teams so I get to see all the games I want for free. But the downside is is that I’m actually working while to game is going on. The upside is that I’m close to the action..

  7. MagicJewball says:

    How does #4 work outside of buying a single? So, for example, if you have a party of two and there are three available together, they won’t sell you two of those three? They’ll hold onto them hoping for a party of three?

  8. Antrack says:

    At least at Wrigley, scalpers dramatically lower their rates in the bottom of the first. Hang out in a bar for the first inning, then stroll out and see what they haven’t sold. A few years ago, when the Cubs were in the playoffs (don’t laugh), we saw a couple playoff games at face value. Or we saw innings 2-9 of a couple playoff games, anyway.

    Of course, this approach might not work if local law enforcement actutally prosecutes scalping.

  9. castlecraver says:

    Picture made me chuckle, as I was at Jacob’s Field last night, although it wasn’t quite that barren (the lower level was actually pretty well filled) If your team is like the Tribe, and never sells out anything, just buy the cheapest seats you can. Last night we grabbed $7 nosebleed right field seats. After the first couple innings, you can see where the empty seats are and just go sit whereever you want. Act like you know where you’re going, and the ushers won’t hassle you. We ended up 3 sections off the plate, about 10 rows up for the rest of the game.

  10. jacobian says:

    An awesome trick for PacBell park in San Francisco: they sell “standing room only” tickets — good only for access to the park and the walkway between the Bay and right field — for only ten bucks.

    After an inning or two, it becomes obvious which season ticket holders on the lower deck aren’t gonna come, and it’s easy to talk a ticket taker into just letting you walk down to one of those seats. I’ve used this trick dozens of times; always worked.

  11. Chongo says:

    In Chicago (Wrigley area) its SO easy to get a ticket for pretty much ANYWHERE! I usually go about 30 mins before the game starts. Just listen for people yelling “tickets”. Sometimes its 5-10 dollars more for the ticket, but it ALWAYS works. I’ve tried it at least 15 times.

  12. Macroy says:

    Carey, please tell me that was a NewsRadio reference.

  13. soj17 says:

    @Chongo: Brownstones baby!

  14. Sonnymooks says:

    I don’t know how up to date this guy is referring to, but I know a couple of folks who worked for the local sports teams near me (NYC) and they (against the rules no less) simply hock what they can….i.e. illegally or against team policy on stubhub. Ironically, if the yankees catch ya doing it come playoff time, they revoke your tickets, but team employees are known to do it often enough.

  15. Plasmafire says:

    14. Live in Milwaukee.

  16. FLConsumer says:

    Don’t forget your media friends! Media passes area handed out like candy by a pedophile by the sports teams. Make sure you start the groundwork for this early so that any paperwork/credentials can be made up in advance.

  17. triple says:

    this would never work at fenway.

  18. Trackback says:

    Suns 113, Lakers 100 – The Laker’s season could be down to one game. The Suns outshone Los Angeles and took a 3-1 series lead thanks to huge performances from Steve Nash (23 assists, 17 points) and Amare Stoudemire (27 points, 21 rebounds).

  19. rugger_can says:

    Baseball is a social commentary for the United states.

  20. slapstick says:

    @Macroy: If not, it should be! I totally heard the first line in Phil Hartman’s voice.

  21. prattosu says:

    Great Top 10 List!

    You should put it on – there are already thousands of other great lists just like it posted there (plus it is a great way to drive traffic to this page).

    Check it out

  22. Andrewjh says:

    I probably shouldn’t post this here, because it works so well, but my strategy for getting into Red Sox games (even vs. the Yankees) is using the Scalp-Free Zone at Gate B. I’ve never not gotten a ticket when I’ve showed up an hour before gametime. Plus, you never pay more than face value, you’re not supporting evil (scalpers – grrrr), and the guy who runs the show, Leo, is a riot!

  23. thewaz says:

    buy nosebleed ticket
    sit in front row.
    i’ve never had a problem with it.

  24. kidwei says:

    in my experiences at shea stadium (go mets!) their ushers are really adept at keeping you in the seat you paid for.. these guys somehow memorize what ticket everyone is holding.. and it’s tough to sneak into the lower levels if you’re holding a nosebleed ticket.. great tips though

  25. @Macroy: Bingo! After all, that line speaks to the truth of the human condition.

  26. retailwhore says:

    @kidwei: You’re right about those Shea ushers.

    Last year I took a mental health day, headed to Shea, bought a ticket for a decent seat (one ticket got you into both games), and then staked out the field-level seating exits once the first game was over. I asked people who were leaving if they were willing to give me their ticket stubs (nobody said no), and kept collecting until I got a seat in the first row over the dugout. The seat I ended up in belonged to a season ticket holder, and the usher was surprised to see me with the stub, and checked it out pretty thoroughly when I presented it. Still, I had the best seat ever. Awesome.

  27. poornotignorant says:

    The ushers at Zits Bank Park in Philly are total bastards. On a Thursday afternoon in the ninth inning I went down from the top level to the first, sat down in the 20th row of an almost empty section down the left field line and the usher threw me out. Every other section was vigilantly guarded by an usher. In the 9th inning – in a weekday afternoon game – in an almost empty section, I didn’t even attempt to get next to the field. WTF?