We can’t all be like Jaimee Grubbs (one of Tiger Woods’ alleged girlfriends) and show our support for our favorite athletes and sports teams by lying on our backs. Often times we need get up and spend money to show our support and to attend these events. Let me start off by saying, the personal finance geek in me would tell you not to spend money going to games, buying merchandise, etc. But I am also a rabid sports fan that owns jerseys of my favorite players and loves going to stadiums and arenas to watch my teams play. Balancing fiscal priorities and sports fanaticism is a challenge, but one that can be accomplished.
There exists a happy medium where you can support your team with the enthusiasm of all the other fans and not break your bank in the process. Lots of personal finance articles talk about saving money while at the game. Well, let’s take a look at some creative ways to save money before you ever walk into the arena or stadium.
Game day tickets are the most expensive part about going to a sporting event. With some planning and prioritizing, you can make sure you won’t miss any of the games you want to be at (Note: These suggestions assume you don’t HAVE to be at every single game).
- Split Season Tickets (Have a Ticket Draft) – Season Tickets are the cheapest tickets to get wherever you are, but its hard to lay out thousands upon thousands for two seats. Fortunately, there is no rule that says only one person is allowed to use those season tickets all year. Get three other buddies to go in on them with you and you each can see one quarter of the season in person. Having trouble deciding who gets to see what game? Have a draft where each person picks which game they want in order until they all are taken.
- Ignore the Regular Season – As someone who has been to playoff hockey and football games, let me say, there is no season like the post season. Instead of buying those season tickets, wait for the playoffs to come around and buy up tickets for those games. Even though these will be more expensive, it will be worth it. One playoff game (which will probably be double the cost of a regular season game) could be equal to a whole season’s worth of fun. While seemingly more expensive, you are definitely paying for value here.
- Scalping – A high risk and high reward trade is the scalping of tickets. The best time to buy tickets from a scalper is after the game has started. You trade off missing a bit of the game for leverage on the scalper as the demand has decreased drastically. However, you may end up waiting around too long and missing out on good seats, or on tickets altogether if the scalpers sell out. Also, while I have never had it happen personally, there is a chance of purchasing fake tickets. Be wary, but if you have a chance to get into the game for 50-75% off the ticket face value, it could be worth the risk.
Dressing for the Game
There is nothing that shows your support for your team more than wearing paraphernalia or a jersey of some sort. Now, ladies, maybe I am just remembering back to jersey days in high school, but while you may not find them flattering, there is nothing sexier than a woman wearing a sports jersey. The problem is, most jerseys these days cost at least a buck and a quarter ($125) before you get started. Here are some ways to spend less and wear more.
- Go Retro – Unfortunately players move from team to team these days and its hard to keep a jersey that’s current. One way to solve this is to look for an older jersey, or a new jersey that will remain timeless. Wouldn’t all those Cowboys fans with Terrell Owens jerseys be happier today if they stopped for a minute, rewound the clocks in their head and purchased a Troy Aikmen jersey? Those jerseys also make a statement, you are a fan that understands history, and there is not a person that won’t respect you for donning the jersey of a retired legend (at half the cost of the flashy new player that just showed up).
- Buy the Player’s Previous Team Jersey – Isn’t it sad when you walk into the local sporting goods store and you see those jerseys on sale of that high draft pick that just didn’t work for your team? Well, think of where that high-priced free-agent just came from. Likely those sport stores and fans are trying to unload the jerseys at huge discounts. No one in your stadium is going to care if you are wearing a Brett Favre Jets jersey if you are rooting for Minnesota. It just means you wanted to look unique. And the unique guys are cool.
- Garage Sale it Up – No one is going to care where you bought your team’s hat from, but if you are wearing it to the game, you will be everyone’s best friend. Especially for the girls in the crowd, no one is going to care if your jersey or t-shirt or jersey is from the late 80s. If you are at the game and have a beer in your hand, you will be the sexiest woman us guys have ever laid eyes upon.
Kicking it before and after
Another alternative is to skip the game altogether, but party it up before and after.
- Join the Tailgate – If you are around any of the major sporting venues, you will see tailgaters, partiers and all sorts of fanatics. Go and enjoy drinks and tailgate burgers, dogs, chili, etc. with your friends and then go watch the game at a local bar.
- Celebrate in Style – Once the game finishes up, head back to the stadium for an after-game tailgate or meet friends out to celebrate the day’s victory! If it’s a loss, there is no reason to drown your sorrows alone. Misery loves company (Detroit Lions fans know what I am talking about), so go out and let those tears flow over your favorite draft.
Make it a vacation
There is nothing like going to a road game to support your team. Making it part of a vacation getaway makes it all the more special. Skip the season tickets again, and put your money towards a kickass vacation.
- Head Somewhere Warm – If you are from the north, be sure to head south in the winter time to watch your team play somewhere warm. You can bring the family and make it an entire week or weekend event, culminating with a sporting experience others aren’t likely to have the opportunity to enjoy. (Guys, this is a great idea to pitch the wife, especially if she is itching to get out of town for a few days. The airfare and hotel is already paid for, what’s a bit of extra cash to go see a game when enjoying your vacation?)
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to maximize the value of your hard earned money while still supporting your sports team. While it may be the most cost efficient to skip going to games at all, that is not why you are here on this site. If you want to do the things that you love, and if sports are your passion, there is no reason you shouldn’t splurge on these experiences. However, remember to prioritize what’s really important and spend your dollars in support wisely.