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Schwartzies Guide to Buying Game Tickets

Hi Schwartzies Sports Fans,

You can now purchase game tickets direct from Schwartzies Sports website.  Each team page has a link to every home game.  Important to disclose, these are affiliate links and Schwartzies Sports may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.  This has no impact on the price you pay.

When buying game tickets, there are many services to choose from.  For many events, gone are the days where you could stroll up to a ticket window and make your purchase.  Events can be in high demand and often sold out in advance.  Tickets must be bought and sold thru brokers or tickets service companies. Unlike scalpers or personal ads, this business is legal and safe.

There are many legitimate ticket services companies to choose from.  They offer a huge choice of seats and an easy to use web interface.  Electronic tickets are delivered and in most cases instantly emailed to you.  I have used the following ticket services:

  • Ticketmaster – Only place you can purchase available tickets direct from team
  • StubHub
  • SeatGeek
  • TicketSmarter
  • Vividseats
  • TickPick

They all have their nuances and have subtle differences.  Expect to pay a fee, usually $35-$50 per ticket.  Some will allow you to display the fees as part of the ticket price while others hide them until just before clicking the purchase button.

While I have used many of the ticket services, my preference is TickPick. They automatically include the fees as part of the ticket price and the markup ends being about half the price as other services.  As an example, I recently researched ticket prices for an upcoming hockey game.  The average price after fees was coming in right around $200 each.  TickPicks  pricing was  $181.  They offer the same value and similar tickets at a lower price without sacrificing any features.

Regardless of where you buy tickets, it can be a bit intimidating, especially for first time buyers from a service company.  Here are a few guidelines that I use to buy tickets and attend a game in person.

  • Set your parameters. Have a good understanding of what you’re willing to pay and where you want to sit ahead of time. Your goal may be to attend the game no matter of the seat location and just enjoy being part of the crowd.  Or you may decide you will only go if a certain area of the venue is available at the price you are willing to pay.   Understand your expectations ahead of time.
  • Seat selection. Have an idea of where you want to sit.  This takes some thought.  Do you want to sit up high or low?  Towards the aisle or towards the middle of a section (pros and cons for both)?  Is the section entrance behind you or in front of you?  This can affect how many people will be walking in front of you (annoying) during the game.  Along the same lines, what side of the section do you want to be on?   If you are on the right side aisle and most of the field is to your right, your view will be obstructed by people walking up and down the aisle.  A little thought can change your entire experience and make the event much more enjoyable.
  • Be prepared to purchase. As you are looking at tickets and something favorable shows up, be ready to move quickly to secure the tickets.  Check prices often.  Seats that weren’t available one minute are available the next.  Remember these are tickets that the original ticket buyer can’t use for one reason or another and their situation changes.  Check often – move quickly.
  • Be prepared to not purchase. Have a realistic price that you are willing to pay pre-determined.  Be realistic.  If tickets are going for $100, they aren’t going to magically drop to $25.  It just doesn’t happen.  Know what you are willing to spend.  Don’t be afraid to walk away.  Sometimes you just have to give up on the event.  There will be other games.
  • Timing! Buying early is generally not recommended.  This may be counter intuitive to your thought process.   Sellers generally keep their prices higher early on “fishing” to see if they get any bites.  The closer to game time, pricing tends to normalize and in most cases will drop.  Now for a high demand game, this can work the other way but, in most cases, the best time to buy is a few days before game time.  For Football games I find the most success during the Tues-Friday time frame before a Sunday game.
  • Qty of Tickets. Even number tickets (optimally 2) are easier to buy than an odd number and usually priced lower.  Tickets are generally originally sold in even numbers so a seller must be willing to split them up to accommodate an odd number request and may look to sell them at a higher price.
  • Travel. If you are traveling to the event, it could alter your approach.  If you have plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc… you may not feel comfortable waiting until it’s close to game time to purchase your tickets. Use your judgement.
  • Level of Comfort. You have to find your level of comfort.  Some people don’t mind paying a higher price for piece of mind.  Buying early, while most likely not optimal, takes it off your plate and you no longer have to think about it.  Others that are more measured and patient generally save money. You have to find your comfort level. 
  • No such thing as the perfect seat. This often happens:  You see the perfect seats at a price you are willing to pay.  You get everything lined up and are ready to pay.  When you hit the purchase key, the seats are no longer available.  It happens and the general thought is “Ill never get this opportunity again”.  Don’t give up.  Keep checking and stick to your strategy.
  • Factor in additional costs. Take into consideration the additional cost of attending the event.  Research parking.  Some venues require you to pay for an expensive parking permit prior to the event. This can sometimes be as expensive as the game ticket.  Most will have off-site parking areas that are far less expensive but requires you to walk a bit.   There will also be public transportation options.  Make sure to check prior to attending the event.  Also consider food costs.  The cost to feed a family of 4 at a sporting event can be a quite a shock.  Plan ahead.  Eating beforehand will save you plenty of money.  However, eating at the stadium/arena or enjoying a beer may be part of the experience you want.
  • Security. You hear horror stories regarding unruly fans and fights in the stands.  This does happen especially when alcohol is flowing and rival fans are nearby.  However, these are generally isolated incidents but they get publicized on social media.    While things happen, it is usually a very safe environment.  In recent years teams have taken great steps to ensure fan safety.  Security guards are in full force and fans are encouraged to report unusual behavior via text to a publicized number throughout the stadium.  Common sense will be your greatest safety net.  If you are in a visiting city, it is wise to act accordingly.  Safety concerns should not prohibit you from having a great experience.

Attending a game in person can be a fun and enjoyable. I often travel to games and attend locally.   These are some of the strategies and tips that have worked for me.  Find what works for you.

Good Luck – Schwartzie

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