March 27, 2017
For many fans, buying tickets on the secondary market can be uncomfortable and daunting. Where do I look? What is a fair price? Will the tickets be fake? This is a guide to help you ease some of this anxiety when you are looking for one, two, four, or more tickets.
Before looking at possible tickets to purchase, you need to understand the following:
- What's at stake for the game? Are the teams fighting for a playoff spot? Does the game have a particular story line that people will pay more to see? If you have a basic knowledge of the game's importance, or lack thereof, then you have a great starting point. This will allow you to get a sense of the market and ticket demand. If you don't know this information going in, all you need to do is a little bit of Googling. Read a few articles about the game from team websites, local newspapers, fan forums, or other informed sources. Heck, you probably know a coworker who would have these answers. Ask them.
- Why are you attending the game? Do you want to spend a summer night at the ballpark with your college buddies and take advantage of Thirsty Thursday? Or do you have clients in town for business and you want to show them a good time? Your reason for going will dictate your approach.
- Where do you want to sit? If the glass breaks after a hard check, do you want the shrapnel shower? Or do you prefer to walk around the park and take in the atmosphere, paying little attention to the pitch count? Your preference should change the way you look for tickets. If you are looking to relax in the cheap seats, your strategy will differ from someone who wants to feel like they’re part of the action.
- Is the game sold out? If not, you have a safety net to buy tickets from the box office. This allows you to be a bit more aggressive in your secondary market search. If it is sold out, find out what face value was so you don't get ripped off. However, you should plan to pay more than face if it's sold out.
- Set a budget. Once you have an understanding of the aforementioned, you should be able to set a fair budget for yourself.
Depending on your answers to the above, here are several routes you can take:
#1: Team season ticket holder exchange sites:
Pros: These are sites that teams use to help their season ticket holders sell or transfer tickets. Tickets are verified and tend to have better seats since they are season tickets.
Cons: Most season ticket holders want to make at least face value back on their tickets, even if the market tends to be lower. You may end up paying more than other avenues.
#2: Online ticket resale websites/apps – Examples: Ticketmaster and StubHub
Pros: Like team ticket exchange sites, most of these resale website are verified and they tend to offer a wide selection of seating areas. Tickets can be downloaded straight to your phone as well. I find these sites to be my go-to for last minute and day-of tickets if I know the prices are low.
Cons: Service fees
Pros: You are able to negotiate with ticket holders and meet up at your convenience. If you use Craigslist, always meet in a public place for your safety and expect to pay in cash. When searching for tickets, be sure to select the "Owner" tab to filter out the mass amount of "Dealer" posts.
Cons: You could end up purchasing a fake ticket. And some flakey sellers will commit to selling to you, but then back out if a better offer comes their way.
#4: Non-sports specific selling apps – Examples: OfferUp and letgo
Pros: These apps tend to work much like Craigslist and carry some of the same benefits, but there is a little bit more security. Sellers and buyers usually have ratings based on previous deals they have made. Also, it is easy to report a sketchy and unreliable user.
Cons: There tends to be low supply for most sporting events, but every now and then you’ll find a great deal.
#5: Scalp at the game
Pros: Sellers at the game tend to be highly motivated as their tickets will fall in value and eventually be worthless as the game approaches. Also, most stadiums have an area where scalpers camp out, so you can negotiate with several people in one area. If you have some time, walk around the parking lot or go to the scalpers area and ask people what they are selling tickets for. This will give you a sense of the market before you need to make a decision. If you are going to a game with a child, I would encourage you to bring them with you as you search for tickets. Other fans tend to prefer their tickets go to kids.
Cons: Professional scalpers are out to make a profit and they aren’t scared to tell you “no.” Be firm with them and don’t give in to their mind games. If you have a large group of people, you may have to buy in pairs or sets of four. It's difficult to buy more than four seats together.
#6: Fan forums
Pros: You are buying from fans of the team who usually know the market well and want to see the stadium full. Fans can also point you in the right direction or connect you to a good seller. Want advice for pre and/or post-game spots? They will have your answers.
Cons: If you are cheering for the opposing team and they find out, they likely will not sell to you. Supply is also lower than many of your other options.
Know the market, be willing to walk away from a deal if it doesn’t fit your criteria and enjoy the game.