Enjoy a family outing at the ballpark

Saving at the Old Ballpark

by Justin Zipprich

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There is nothing quite like a day at the ballpark. Watching a great baseball game is always a good time, but it is not always cheap. If you bring a big family, you may find that the ticket prices, parking costs, and food can all add up to hundreds of dollars. But, there is hope. With some careful planning, a little research, and some luck, you could enjoy that game without breaking the bank.

Tickets to the Ball Game

According to online statistics portal Statista, the average baseball ticket price ranges from $19 to $55 each, and the 2015 Fan Cost Index says the average cost to bring a family of four to the game is $211.53, which is up 2.5% from previous years. The trick to saving money depends on your schedule and proximity to the park.

The first option is to buy your tickets online with the help of deals and discounts. Avoid buying your tickets during the pre-season advance sales period and try to get weekday games (during the day) to avoid a buying rush. You can also use online venues like Ticketmaster and Stubhub.

When you use these websites, it can be beneficial to wait until the final hours before a game to get your tickets. That's when season ticket holders will try to unload any unwanted seats. In some cities, these last-minute tickets can go for as little as $2 a pop.

You can also save some money by buying your tickets in person. As with most online purchases, you can face usage and transaction fees, but at the ticket window, you will usually pay face value.

Like all sporting events, the price of your ticket can depend on where you want to sit in the stadium, so save money by sitting farther away. Instead of paying $50 to sit in the prime seats, pay $5 to $10 for seats in the nosebleeds. Once the game starts, you can take some time to walk around the park and get a closer view of the game in the process.

Pay Less for Parking

Parking can be just as expensive. The cost to drive and park can be upwards of $20 to $50, depending on the size of your party.

You can save a bundle by taking public transportation. The average parking fee at Fenway Park in Boston, for example, costs $25 while the public bus system in town costs only $1.60. Parking at Wrigley Field in Chicago costs $25 while their Wrigley Field Express bus service costs $4 per person.

Most cities have a bus or train that goes directly to your favorite ballpark. You could also park outside of the stadium and then ride the bus into the park to avoid the costs. If you must drive, carpool with some friends and split the cost.

Merchandise and Food

Once inside the park, you might get a nagging feeling to indulge in that famous ballpark food and to get a souvenir of your experience, but try to resist.

The price of your meal depends on the stadium, but most are rather expensive. Some stadiums sell a single sandwich for $20 or a single beer for $8. At Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, one of their famous Dodger Dogs will cost you $5.50. Considering that a package of eight hot dogs can cost as little as $4, you're looking at a huge markup.

Since you can't cheat the system, you're better off bringing food from home (if your stadium allows) or filling up on lunch or dinner before leaving for the park. Check your team's website to view the food prices. Knowing what you're getting into ahead of time will help you plan and avoid some unneeded stress.

It's a similar situation with the merchandise. Avoid purchasing jerseys, hats, and baseball cards at the park, as the prices for these items are marked up to the extreme. Caps and imitation jerseys are usually marked up at least $10 from what you can buy them for at your local sports store or online retailer. Plus, the online store often has coupons or promotional deals.

There is nothing like taking your family out for a day at the ballgame, but a fun outing doesn't have to break the bank. Be aware of the costs, plan accordingly, and focus on what matters most, which is enjoying America's pastime.

Reviewed June 2017

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