Four Ways To Save Money At A Sporting Event

Sporting events were once a nice way to kill the day with friends instead of the massively expensive once-a-year “treats” that they’re trying to become. Food and drinks are easily the biggest expenses you can control at any sporting event, and with a few tips from Frugal Dad, you can keep your day at the game as cheap as it was in grandpa’s time…

  • Eat Before You Go: Don’t pay $8 for a $0.50 hot dog when you can pre-game with a small meal instead.
  • Pack Your Own Drinks And Snacks: We know, you’re not supposed to bring in outside food or drinks. Whatever. Here’s how to do it: find a backpack and put your well-wrapped food and drinks in at the bottom. Next, get your dirty laundry, preferably things like socks that stink. Add that to the top. Present your bag of fun to the security guard and you’ll be through in no time.
  • Don’t Eat Out Afterwards: You’ve pre-gamed and snacked at the game, don’t ruin everything by going out for a meal afterwards.
  • Watch It On TV: With all your snacks and drinks waiting for you at home, why bother leaving? Gather everyone around the tv and have a family night instead.

Five Ways To Save Money At A Sporting Event [Frugal Dad]
(Photo: zenobia_joy)


Edit Your Comment

  1. howman says:

    Simple on the food… Ask if they serve kosher food and drinks… Then walk in with your own. or Vegetarian, or anything that you know they will not specialise in.

    • James Borders says:

      @howman: Citizens Bank Park (Phillies) has vegetarian options, including Veggie dogs and veggie burgers.

      • howman says:

        @James Borders: Thank you, captain miss the point.

        • greggen says:

          @howman: I think I am missing the point of how claiming
          the stadium does not make the food the way I like = I can break the rules and bring outside food in?
          Wanna help me out there Captain?

          • Xerloq says:

            @greggen: The rule against outside food is to reduce competition for the inside food. If you can’t consume the food inside, it’s really no competition. Most places would rather accommodate you than lose all your business.

            You try eating at a stadium/movie theater/theme park with food allergies or stringent religious dietary requirements. Ask the management if they can accommodate that, or allow you to bring your own.

            Oh, and for the record, Kosher isn’t a “way I like it” kind of thing.

            • howman says:

              @Xerloq: Exactly. For whatever reason you choose to bring your own meals to a closed area, if they can not, or will not, provide suitable options, you should be able to bring your own… Granted this does fall apart on aeroplanes with caned drinks, but sporting event… or worst of all trade shows…

              I was just at the Auto Show and they had the nerve to charge 4.19 for a slice… or should I say a sliver of pizza… Granted they have high overhead costs, but who’s fault is that…

              30 years ago I learned the kosher thing from my grandmother, with the k-mart .99c bag o popcorn and a coke when we went to the movies. It didn’t matter to her that it wasn’t kosher either way, what mattered was she paid for the movie not the privilege of over priced food.

              • flavorflav says:

                @howman: “the k-mart .99c bag o popcorn and a coke when we went to the movies. It didn’t matter to her that it wasn’t kosher either way.”

                Popcorn is kosher. So is Coke.

                • sn1per420 says:

                  @flavorflav: Regular Coke is not Kosher for Passover. That’s why they make special “Passover Coke” every year.

                • howman says:

                  @flavorflav: If you want to be strict about it, nothing is kosher unless they paid off the Rabbi to say it is… Plus there are many variables we can’t take into account, such as the type of oil that was used, and if the factory it was made in was kosher or not, the handling of the product etc… I agree though, in of it’s self the popcorn is kosher. I also think that coke is always kosher, they just put out an extra kosher variety during passover.

                  • AwesomeJerkface says:


                    No, technically many foods are “parve” so as long as it doesn’t contain unkosher foods, it doesn’t matter.

                    Foods have to be certified kosher for Passover because many parve foods are no longer parve (depending on how strict you are) and the certification is that the normally parve food remained parve for the holiday.

                    Rabbi approval doesn’t change whether a food is parve or not.

            • SabreDC says:

              @Xerloq: “Oh, and for the record, Kosher isn’t a “way I like it” kind of thing.”

              It is if the OP does not normally adhere to kosher dietary restrictions but is suggesting it as an excuse to bring in outside food…

              • RedwoodFlyer says:

                @SabreDC: That and being Jewish is a decision…not a genetic condition like Celiac’s

                • howman says:

                  @RedwoodFlyer: I have to agree with you on this. Being Jewish is a choice, as is how religious you are going to be about it… But don’t try to tell that to my relatives… The “You are born Jewish, you will never be anything else. You can’t become Jewish unless you are born Jewish.” closed social club… nevermind… Your brain, your choice.

        • AwesomeJerkface says:


          Pointing out it doesn’t work everywhere isn’t missing the point.

          Certified gluten-free… now that’s something few stadiums could elude.

    • domesticdork says:

      @howman: Interesting. Here’s the secret I picked up working security at college football and basketball games.

      “Medical reasons.”

      We weren’t allowed to question people if they said it was for medical reasons. We also were supposed to let in snacks for small children (toddlers) but it was an incredibly child friendly school so that may not work everywhere.

      • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

        @domesticdork: last time i went to a hockey game, my friend had a smoothie she had just bought. the ticket-taker asked her to throw it away, and i mentioned that the girl had diabetes. the ticket person said “oh, alright then, you can go ahead”

      • RedwoodFlyer says:

        @domesticdork: That was also the trick to sneaking onboard your own food on Skybus

    • Cupajo says:

      @howman: My response would be “Yes, we have bottled water at $3 apiece. It’s kosher. Please leave your crap outside.”

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      @howman: I’ve tried that before twice, once it worked, once it didn’t. I suspect the bigger the venue, the less likely it is to work.

  2. edwardso says:

    I’ve always been able to bring food in without incident, as long as it wasn’t a glass bottle

    • ken2148 says:

      @edwardso: It all depends on the ball park. Each have different rules. Some allow drinks and food, others only food and water, and still others nothing at all. When in doubt, check the stadiums website for their rules. Security has made me get rid of things that just barely broke a rule.

      With the ball parks that allow water (but no other drink). Bring a bottle of water and fill a plastic bag with your favorite drink powder. Then once inside you can open the sealed water bottle and mix it together.

      • Outrun1986 says:

        @ken2148: You could also buy the generic “singles” drink mixes if you really want to go cheap, I have a few I stashed away for such an occasion. They only cost $1 or $2 for a whole package of them so they are not terribly expensive, if you want to save money on them buy the generic walmart or aldi’s brand.

    • jswilson64 says:

      @edwardso: It depends on the team. The Texas Rangers will allow food / drinks / coolers into the ballpark (no glass). Pretty sure the Cowboys won’t. Screw you, Jerry!

  3. lutton says:

    >> We know, you’re not supposed to bring in outside food or drinks

    In Philadelphia, the Phillies allow you to bring in food (supposed to be wrapped in clear plastic) and sealed non-alcholic beverages for ballgames at Citizens Bank Park. This can save you considerable cash. Still got to shell out for the beers, but at least they have a large selection of various regional microbrews as well as the usual suspects.

    We always bring snacks, water (oh, what these venues charge for freakin’ water should be a crime!), beverages for the kids, sometimes sandwiches/hoagies, etc.

    I think the Eagles allow you to bring in food for games at Lincoln Financial Field as well, but I’m not certain. So many people tailgate beforehand, it’s probably not as common.

    • 11hawkinst says:

      @lutton: Ohh… good to know that for Phillies games.

    • K-Bo says:

      @lutton: The Orioles also let you bring in sealed drinks, and there are vendors lining all the sidewalks on the way in, selling them for $1. $1 is not cheap but it is way cheaper than inside, and means you don’t have to lug them around letting them get warm until the game starts.

      • edwardso says:

        @K-Bo: you can get water, nuts, burritos etc outside of Coors Field. I usually get a few things then get a foot long dog and beer inside

      • Jon Parker says:

        @K-Bo: You can also bring your own food into Camden Yard. The problem I have with that is that I usually don’t want a hot dog until the 4th inning or so.

        If you’re in the cheap seats between third and home, the hot dog vendor will write “Orioles” in mustard on your dog, which takes some of the sting out of the $4.50 price.

    • sleze69 says:

      @lutton: At Citizen’s Bank Park, in the concessions behind third base there is a hotdog stand for “kids” that sells $1 hotdogs.

      Every game.

  4. crazyasianman says:

    and don’t forget these convenient ways to save on alcohol purchases!


  5. Plates says:

    I gave up on sports several years ago. If I want to watch scumbmag greedy bastards in person, I can go watch politicians in action. It is free.

    • Collie says:

      @Plates: Obviously you have never met a professional hockey player. I will gladly support my local team and ownership.

      • Plates says:

        @Collie: Gary Bettman killed hockey and apparently you have never met the Dolans who are the bastards who mismanage a couple of the local sporting concerns.

  6. edwardso says:

    hot dogs I make at home just don’t compare to those at the ballpark. I always get one

    • DePaulBlueDemon says:


      It’s all in your mind.

    • Nidabriz says:

      @edwardso: I agree. Not sure why, but the hotdogs always taste better at the stadium. Maybe it’s the extra ecoli, who knows? ;)

      Our family goes to Baysox games instead of Orioles games to save money.
      The games are more exciting because the action is RIGHT THERE (for 10 bucks, i might add) and the food is sooo much cheaper.
      Can feed the whole family for 20 bucks at Baysox — that won’t buy two beers at Camden Yards or M&T.

      • AwesomeJerkface says:


        I would say it’s the less e-coli… in each supermarket, there’s usually only 2 or 3 brands that don’t taste like crap or are 90% chicken/pork (dog-food esque) meal.

        Read your hot dog’s ingredients label. Go with kosher beef dogs over the grill and you’ll never go back.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @edwardso: Ballpark dogs are often beef dogs. That might be the difference.

      But I agree. They’re still metaphysically tastier at the ballpark. :D

    • Catpain Blackudder says:

      @edwardso: I used to eschew hot dogs all year and save myself for the $4.75 jumbo suckers at Saratoga race course. Seriously, such value! I could eat one of those at 4pm and still be burping its spicy goodness at midnight. (Overheard one summer: “These track hot dogs are terrible!…just the way they should be.”)

      Last summer they changed them, and now they’re skinny and not as bitey. *sigh* At least we still have spiedies and salt potatoes at the minor league baseball games.

  7. Etoiles says:

    Minor league and summer league sports. :) About 1/3 the cost of attending the major league game, for a family of 3.

  8. Justin Gross says:

    Yeh, I agree with the other commenters above. There are a good amount of stadiums now that will allow you to bring in outside food. I have been to Yankee Stadium and Giants Stadium recently and both allow you to bring in food and drinks(in plastic containers). You just have to have all your stuff in a clear plastic bag, which they also have near the gates most times. I definitely save alot of money this way.

  9. corkdork says:

    How about another tip: support your local minor league team with your ticket-buying dollars, rather than shell out major $$$ for top-tier league games? Some areas have both minor- and major-league teams (the one that first comes to mind is Atlanta for hockey; NHL Thrashers, ECHL Gladiators).

    Let’s check TickeMaster
    – Thrashers: $10-$300, with $10 for nosebleed seats, the next seat price is $32.
    – Gladiators: $10-$250, with all but the most expensive ($250) seats at $22 or under.

    So… for the price of one seat in the second tier at a Thrashers game, I could sit in the second row on the glass, probably on the blue line at a Gladiators game. Heck, for the cost of a decent seat in a Thrashers game, I could bring a friend to the same seats in a Gladiators game!

    Ditto the cost of season tickets; many local minor league teams have great ticket deals for season tickets (eg, my local AF2 team sells blocks of 4 seats for $200; that’s 32 person-games — 8 games, 4 seats — for a per-person price of $6.25 a seat. Oh, and you get a 10% discount on merchandise and parking as a season ticketholder).

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @corkdork: And lots of minor-league baseball parks have that grassy seating area behind the outfield where your kids can run off all their steam while you lounge on the grass and watch the game.

  10. Meathamper says:

    Don’t forget:

    Mr Pibb and Red Vines equals CRAZY DELICIOUS!

  11. RandomHookup says:

    Some places aren’t exactly backpack friendly.

    From the Boston Garden’s website:

    Guests are also reminded that bags, backpacks, luggage, coolers, parcels, briefcases and like articles will be strictly prohibited from the facility. All guests will be subject to search, at TD Banknorth Garden’s discretion, of their person and/or possessions (including women’s handbags of normal size that may be allowed entry after such search). Patrons with prohibited articles will be turned away at the entrances and no storage or “check area” will be provided for such items. Enforcement will be without exceptions.

    Prohibited Items

    ALL ITEMS brought into the arena are subject to inspection. For safety reasons the following list of items are not permitted in the arena:
    Food or beverages
    Bags or briefcases
    Video cameras or recording devices of any kind
    Laser pointers or similar items
    Alcoholic beverages, drugs or other illegal substances
    No Re-Entry/No Pass Outs

    You can’t even swing by after work if you are carrying a bag (though the local bars will bag check). I guess al-Qaeda has something against the Bruins.

    • Xerloq says:

      @RandomHookup: I’d like to get nitpicky with that policy…

      ALL ITEMS brought into the arena are subject to inspection. For safety reasons the following list of items are not permitted in the arena:
      Food or beverages

      To my understanding, that means food or beverages, regardless of who might bring them into the arena, are not permitted. It would be interesting to point that out to the management.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @RandomHookup: I always look at these policies before I go somewhere and I am a girl, every girl has a purse but searching my purse is WAY out of line IMO. I have never had my purse searched, and its not a huge carry all bag either, its just a small purse. This is a place I would not go to due to these policies. I do not patronize theme parks or any place that does not allow re-entry because its practically like holding me prisoner, although yes you can leave on your own free will but regardless you will not be let back in even if you paid an astronomical amount to be there in the first place. In this economy I simply cannot afford to be dealing with these policies so I choose to not patronize businesses that have them.

      The policy is ironic because it says you can’t have any food or beverages in the arena, even if you bought them there. This could possibly mean that you have to eat them before you go back to your seats, and that you are not allowed to have them while in your seats. The concessions are usually away from the seats, but typically they do have vendors walking around selling things to people sitting in their seats.

      Also most cell phones have camera’s these days (its hard to find a phone that doesn’t have one) so I assume that everyone who has a cell phone gets sent away for having a recording device, especially since according to the policy no exceptions can be made. I dunno but I am not having my phone confiscated just so I can attend an event.

  12. CreativeLinks says:

    Here are my tips:

    1) Check for tickets on Craigslist, you can usually get some season ticket holders tickets there for a good price.

    2) Go to Wal-Mart, K-mart, Walgreens before the game and let your kids pick out a team shirt, cap, even a jersey to wear to the game (usually 80% less then what you pay at the park)

    3) Take public transportation to the game. A family of 4 can ride the bus/subway to the game usually for $6–and skip the hassles of parking, traffic, and usually $15-20 parking fee.

    4) Tell the kids then can have 1 thing from the passing vendors (Hot Dogs, Popcorn, Sno-Cones) etc in the Third Inning, or Second Quarter, or whatever. It makes them see all the things they can order, and will stop the contant “Can I get one of those.”

  13. youbastid says:

    Not a really helpful list when one out of four choices is “just watch the game at home!” Oh yeah!! Why didn’t I think of that???

    And seriously, I can’t think of any other way to ruin a baseball game than a bagged lunch. 50% of being at the game is hot dogs and beer. If you’re spending $50 on a ticket, you may as well enjoy it.

    • Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

      @youbastid: Right. Part of the game is getting a frank from one of the vendors. It’s the tradition behind it. Or some peanuts from the aisle vendor.

  14. youbastid says:

    Not to mention, it’s really appetizing pulling that lunch out of a bag of disgusting, smelly clothes.

  15. bohemian says:

    5. Quit wasting money on over priced major league sports.

    I lost interest when they all started making these multi-million dollar salaries. I have no interest in supporting what major league sports has turned into.

    If you want a cheap way to get into any event see if your company has a box at the arena or stadium. Then try to score passes to the box instead of buying tickets. If your lucky it is one of those events that the company caters in food. Plus really good box suites have their own bathroom and some have their own staffed bar.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @bohemian: Heh, watching sports is so boring. I’d rather play a pick up game of ANYTHING than pay to watch other people play it! Come on people, get up from your lazy butts and play sports yourself instead of watching other people do it!

      Besides, being a cheap introvert saves money. Going out to a movie is the same deal. For two, a movie costs $25 or more around here considering travel, tickets, and maybe one snack. I’d much rather stay home and pay $2 to watch a movie.

      • Collie says:

        @GuinevereRucker: What makes you assume that because I like to watch sports (hockey) that I do not participate as well. I do both and enjoy both, and my son really enjoys spending time with his dad at the rink.

    • Collie says:

      @bohemian: Do you have a problem buying a movie ticket for some high priced actor that could not find your town on a map if they told him where it was. At least my professional sports team spends time in the community to raise funds for very worthy causes.

  16. peggyhill says:

    I work on TV Crews at stadiums all the time and we actually have been forbidden from a few places from bringing in our lunch into the building with us at a few places. Their claim is that the building food inspector cannot (and will not) inspect your sack lunch or pizzas you order from out of house for the TV crew and claim that if you get sick from food brought in from out of house that somehow they are liable since you ate it on their (in most cases) private property. Of course if you let in house catering order the pizzas from out of house, the food inspector looks at it and then you get a bill for $400 for 4 pizzas.

    see where this is going folks?

    • youbastid says:

      @peggyhill: Next time the food inspector claims that they would be liable for you getting sick for bringing in your own food, refer him to the lengthy liability disclaimer printed on the back of the ticket. If it’s not printed on the back of the ticket, it’s posted on the walls somewhere. They aren’t liable for anything that happens in there.

  17. Corporate-Shill says:

    Go to the minor leagues. It is fun and cheap. Plus you get to see the majors before they become majors.

  18. valleygirl_18002 says:

    As long as NASCAR doesn’t go the way of other sports (which the fans will be the reason why they do it), people are allowed to bring in their own food/beverages.

    Per person: the cooler must be about the size of a case of beer. No more than a twelve-pack of sealed, non-glass beverages. Sandwiches must be wrapped in clear plastic.

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      @dialmelo: In order for Nascar to “Go the way of other sports” they would first have to be a sport and not a bootlegging operation that somehow outgrew it’s usefulness and continued to exist.

    • Plates says:

      @dialmelo: How is driving in circles for hours on end a sport?

      • valleygirl_18002 says:


        1. It is competitive.
        2. You can die competing in it.
        3. It involves strategy (when to get fuel, tires, assistance from other drivers).
        4. Unless there is a crash or weather issue causing the race to completely stop, the hand eye coordination is necessary throughout the entire race.

        How many sporting events have your favorite athletes competing against each other week after week in the same place?

        I’ll end it with this (thanks, RalphieDC):
        “What exactly is the difference between a sport and a game? Is it just physical activity and skill that makes it a sport? If that is all it takes, are a bunch of 6 year olds playing tag engaged in sport or is it just simply a game of tag?”

      • Tedicles says:

        Just a blanket statement, but motor-sports (whether NASCAR, F1, etc.) IS certainly a sport. The physical demands are very real, and actually a lot more than other sports. I know people say stupid things like “How can just sitting there driving be physically demanding?”

        As a driver (non-pro) I can attest to the level of athleticism that is needed. Even a 1-hour enduro will leave you drained (literally soaked from head to toe in sweat usually)! This is not sitting on the highway, it is 100% focus with high G-forces to deal with. Ever see the professional divers, they’re not exactly fat slobs. I would love to see how some of the nay-sayers would deal with some real-world experience.

        All that said…I don’t watch NASCAR since I like to see cars turn to the right as well as the left! ;)

  19. Trai_Dep says:

    Smaller leagues or quirkier sports are also a good way to avoid the chomp out of Pro Sports.

  20. AceEdit says:

    Dirty, stinky socks on top of my halftime hoagie? Not for me.

  21. pgh9fan1 says:

    I’m a season-ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pitt Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pirates are very cool about bringing food in. They have a limit to the size of the bags you can carry but each person can have one.
    The Steelers are hypocritical when it comes to things. They say you can’t carry things in because it’s unsafe. Yet, they sell the exact same items.
    Pitt advertises the same policies because it’s a Heinz Field rule”, but if you carry food in they really don’t mind at all.

    • varro says:

      @pgh9fan1: I remember when Three Rivers was still around, we’d take buckets from KFC or burgers from Rally’s in, plus 2-liters of pop spiked with vodka.

      There’s so much tailgating at the Steelers games that you really don’t need to buy anything when you get in – I was the teetotaler of my group when we went to a gave last year when I only had 5 beers tailgating.

    • demonspawn says:


      I think the difference between the Pirates and the Steelers policies is largely a matter of supply and demand.

      Basically, the Pirates suck, and even though the stadium is beautiful, they still find it hard to get fans to show up for games. Allowing people to brig their own food means that they might at least sell a few more tickets. The Baltimore Orioles began to allow food a couple of seasons ago as well, and I think it was mainly because they were worried about the awful attendance figures.

      By contrast, the Steelers sell out every game. When you have that sort of demand, there is no incentive for the ballpark to let people bring food in, because they know that people won’t stop coming. The fact that football teams play 8 home games a year instead of 81 also dramatically increases the demand for each game.

  22. balthisar says:

    So much of the fun is eating there and drinking $8 beer. And when my wife begs me to go to a baseball game, the only fun is eating the food and drinking the beer (conversely for her when I drag her to the Red Wings).

  23. Peter Nincompoop says:

    Using MLB as an example:

    1. Wait until the game is an inning or two in and the sidewalk scalpers will be desperate to get something (usually 1/2 to 1/4 value) for their soon to be worthless tickets.

    2. If your stadium allows you to bring food in, take advantage of the hot dog vendors on the street (if available). In Cleveland, street dogs cost $1.25; In the stadium, a minimum of $3.75. Guess what? They’re the same exact hot dog and the street dogs aren’t nearly as shriveled up as the overpriced dogs inside.

    3. A lot of beer companies do make plastic bottles and somebody wearing jeans can [ahem] hypothetically [ahem] fit a six bottles into their waist if they’re wearing a belt. The metal detector won’t pick these up and then once you’re inside, you can buy a coffee just for the cup (I’ve been told by other people [cough] that it’s best to use the restroom every time you want to refill your cup).

    4. Or you can skip the game altogether and frequent your local watering hole, where you’ll likely encounter game day drink and food specials and an environment not too far off from what you would encounter inside the stadium.

    • MrEvil says:

      @Clevelander: Ditto on #4, I’ve watched monday night football at Buffalo Wild Wings a few nights. Food was alot cheaper and of higher quality.

    • varro says:

      @Clevelander: Yep….5th Avenue Cafe near the Civic (Mellon) Arena has pre-game specials before Penguins games.

      I’d rather have a $3 big beer there than a $8 beer inside the arena…

  24. Cupajo says:

    As someone who manages a food&bev operation at a sporting venue, let me clue you in on what these little “tips” will result in: revenue will drop and, ultimately, venues will close.

    Concessions is one of few revenue streams that the venue gets to keep 100% of the profits from. Ticket and merch money gets split with, usually with talent and promoters taking the lion’s share. So, the money you spend on hot dogs and beer and pretzels may seem like a lot, but remember that this money is what’s keeping the venue afloat in most cased. You want to eat a big dinner before you come? Fine. But if you’re smuggling food in, that’s no different than recording the show and selling bootleg tapes. You’re breaking rules that have been established for a reason and it’s theft, pure and simple. Rationalize it if you want, but it’s bullpoop.

    • Cupajo says:

      @Cupajo: And the cute little ‘laundry in a backpack’ trick? Most venues won’t allow bags inside anymore. I hope the author of this column tries that tactic, stands in like for an hour or two with his laundry, and then gets told he has to take his bag back to his car before he can come in. That would be sweet fucking justice.


      • Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

        @Cupajo: I have actually never been into a venue that banned bags. NCAA bowl games and NFL games at Bank of America Stadium, UNC football and basketball games, minor league baseball games, an NBA game at Bobcat Arena, they all allowed bags.

    • varro says:

      @Cupajo: Sorry, but if the venues would price concessions at or slightly above restaurant prices, this wouldn’t happen.

      Every food industry person knows that restaurants make lots of money off alcohol – charging $8 for a cup of beer that you could easily charge $4 (domestics) or $5 (micros/imports) is gouging.

      Movie theaters, too. Gee, I wonder why people go to the McMenamin’s theater pubs and the Laurelhurst in Portland – could it be that they can get a slice of pizza and a beer for a price close to a restaurant, and not have to see 20 minutes of ads before the movie?

    • demonspawn says:

      @Cupajo: “but remember that this money is what’s keeping the venue afloat in most cases.”

      Actually, what’s keeping the venue afloat in many cases is oodles and oodles of taxpayers dollars, in the form of direct subsidies, tax breaks, infrastructure construction and maintenance, etc., etc. The fact that the teams have the gall to take all this public money and still gouge the fans on concession prices is chutzpah of the highest order.

      • fatcop says:

        @demonspawn: Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

      • Cupajo says:

        @demonspawn: That is correct in a fraction of the stadiums and arenas. Many others (mine included) do not receive taxpayer dollars, and in fact pay out a dividend to the city or state government every quarter.

        • zlionsfan says:

          @Cupajo: Um, what? According to, there are at least 14 MLB parks built with some form of public financing (for some parks, financing information was not listed). Sure, if you live in Atlanta or San Francisco, you’re not bearing any direct burden for the stadium’s construction, but that’s hardly true in Denver (78% public financing) or Cincinnati (86%) or Chicago (100%), to name a few. (See this article for more information: in baseball, at least, AT&T Park is an anomaly.)

          I would imagine it’s more accurate to say a small fraction of stadiums and arenas pay out a dividend to the local government, and the majority rely on taxpayer assistance to a certain degree, and not necessarily only during construction. Take the situation in Indianapolis, for example.

        • demonspawn says:


          You might be right about your stadium. But, to be quite honest, I don’t care whether or not you take taxpayer dollars; your argument about concession stand prices is still unconvincing.

          If I pay, for example, $30 for a baseball ticket, then that is the price for watching the game. It should not include an obligation for me to purchase my food from the overpriced concession stands.

          • Cupajo says:

            @demonspawn: No, you are under no obligation to buy what you consider to be expecterdover-priced food from a concessions stand. But you are expected to adhere to building policy by not bringing your own food in with you, and frankly it’s irresponsible of Consumerist to suggest that you do that.

  25. Ruth Verdoliva says:

    I get my 5 dollar footlong from Subway plus my drink, and walk right on into Anaheim Angels stadium. Unless it’s alcohol or a bottled drink that’s not water, they don’t care.

  26. Jan Scholl says:

    Has the writer been to a game lately? A recent visit to an NBA game had me opening my purse (the size of my hand) emptying my binoculars case and removing the caps, showing my camera did not have a detachable lens, and being mine swept with some sort of magic wand to make sure I didn’t beep.

    As for hiding food in pockets etc, they also have you remove your coat and they squeeze it. All over. So much for special diets-I was told there was vegetarian food so I walked the whole concourse. Finally found a veggie burger listed, ordered without cheese-and waited 10 minutes, snaked my way to my seat in the third level, sat down, bit the sammy and it was freaking chicken. I used to have season tickets for years-but was tired of being treated like a criminal or vagrant. Keep your money, stay home and watch something on the tube. Or find some kids and play ball in a park, its better for you and them.

    • Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

      @Jan Scholl: Wow, I went to an NBA game a couple of years ago, it was the same security I’ve found at NFL games. Bags? This line. No bags? That line. Lift your arms, wand in front, wand in back, run of the hands down the sides and center of back, quick peek into the bag, enjoy the game.

    • balthisar says:

      @Jan Scholl: non-detachable lens? EVERY GOOD CAMERA has a detachable lens. I don’t own one yet, but I aspire to.

  27. guroth says:

    save money by not spending it, wow, great tip

  28. knackeredmom says:

    I try not to buy the overpriced fare at the movies or sporting events, and for the most part I don’t bring my own snacks. My weakness is popcorn, and I’ll occasionally buy a bag. However, the “butter” (OIL) is simply not fit for human consumption. As their oil is a free item, I feel no qualms about bringing along a small thermos of the real stuff. Granted, I’m able to carry a purse to accomplish this with little chance of being noticed, and I have not been confronted by staff (yet). This doesn’t save me any $$, but it sure makes the experience more enjoyable!

  29. MoebiusSK8 says:

    With as much money as Jerry Jones has gotten out of the taxpayers to build his new statdium we should all be getting free food. Jerry Jones wouldn’t piss on the people of Arlington, TX if they were on fire.

  30. jenjen says:

    So one way to save money on cable is to use bittorrent and one way to save money at sports games is to smuggle stuff into the stadium. And then we complain about big business and gummint officials for their questionable ethics. Hey, I have a great idea for a story on how save money on air travel by stowing away in a trunk.

  31. sarahq says:

    Not only does Camden Yards allow you to bring your own food and sealed, non-alcoholic beverages, but they also have $35/$40 all-you-can eat seats in left field: []

    Thank goodness for our low ticket prices, too. Going to see a losing team’s a lot cheaper than seeing a wining one.

    • edwardso says:

      @sarahq: Screw the Nats, I’m going to Baltimore!

    • Con Seannery gives up on subtlety, BAN FACEBOOKERS! says:

      @sarahq: That’s a perk of UNC Football tickets. They usually suck, so the tickets aren’t outrageous. Tailgate in your $5 parking space, walk a quarter mile or so past the 5x the price parking, sit in your decent seat that’s half the price of the great seats, enjoy your smuggled beverages.

  32. sumgai says:

    Remember, to save money on booz, always drink heavily at home before driving to the game. Big money saver!

  33. TechnoDestructo says:

    The high-priced event approach WILL backfire.

    It’s a lot easier to not go to one game than it is to not go to a dozen games.

  34. theblackdog says:

    Forget the tip on packing your own drinks and food at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, they don’t allow coolers or backpacks. Hopefully you have small enough purse that you can get it past their inspection, or hide it on yourself.

  35. valleygirl_18002 says:

    Sport (noun):
    an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature

    • sumgai says:


      This is why we have to stop referring to baseball as a sport. There is ZERO skill involved in scratching your nuts and spitting tabacky juice all over.

  36. sumgai says:

    I like how Four Ways to Save Money at a Sporting Event includes staying at home. So, really, it’s only 3 ways to save money AT a sporting event.

    I am going to write an article titled, “One Way to Write an Article Like a Dumbass.”

  37. Tony Vorell says:

    Progressive field in Cleveland lets you take soft sided containers in, mostly juice boxes for kids, but grown ups can have them too. And I’ve never had any problem bringing my own peanuts in. Street vendors sell them on the way in
    I’m not this impulsive, but Craig Finn from the Hold Steady reports that scalper prices plummet after the second or third inning, especially for single tickets

  38. Marshfield says:

    Or any “event”. Went to the Seattle Homeshow in the Qwest convention center. A cup of soggy fries for $4.00 was bad, but $3.50 for a 16.7 oz bottle of bottled water was insane.

  39. JollyJumjuck says:

    If possible, try to go sporting events where Ticketmaster is not involved in selling tickets. That company is tantamount to a mob front.

  40. radiochief says:

    I’d also have to recommend Minor League games if they are available. Especially the Triple A (International League) for baseball and the Triple A equivalent in hockey. College games too, are great.

    I grew up in Pawtucket, RI. So, I always had the PawSox games. I’ve seen a lot of good games there. Notable ones even. The Providence Bruins are also a good show.

    I address the quality of games like this: if I was at stinker- I’d be glad I was paying substantially less while getting a superior (or at-least an on par) experience with all other things being equal.

  41. Anonymous says:

    SO the four rules include breaking stadium rules which can get you kicked out before you see the whole game, eating ahead of time and then not eating after, and just not going at all. Wow, crack reporting we have here. How did I never think of those things? “Hey, how can we save money on a ball game?” “Don’t go.”

  42. RandomZero says:

    It may also be wortwhile to ask if the venue actually DOES have food restrictions. I used to make a sport of coming up with ingenious ways to conceal food when going to the theater… until a local paper actually thought to ask the regional head whether or not Empire has food restrictions. Their official policy basically amounts to “Clean up after yourself, and nothing that will bother other patrons.” No restriction whatsoever on what you bring in.

  43. aguacarbonica says:

    Or alternatively, we could question the whole culture of feeling the need to eat at sports games, movies, etc.

    I don’t know why people feel like eating food is a necessity at a sports outing to the point of coming up with elaborate plans to smuggle in food. Are we really so incapable of not eating for a two or three hour block, and planning our regular meals around them?

    I mean, I get the whole culture of a hotdog at a baseball game, popcorn at the movies, etc. But if you have to smuggle in PB&J and other assorted non-sports-culture foods, why not just eat the way you do every other day?

    (If you have kids, that’s a different story. Healthy munchies can be a great way to contain wandering attention spans).

  44. glitterpig says:

    Nationals Park is the best park for super-cheap baseball outings. You can bring your own food and (some) drinks and get in with $5 tickets. Don’t actually climb up to the crappy seats – spend your time wandering the stadium, viewing the game from a variety of great standing-area angles. There’s even other stuff in the park to take your kids to do if they can’t sit through a whole game (or if you get tired of watching the Nats lose. I mean, we’re talking frugal, you don’t get things like a World-series team with that.)