Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cheap Seats

There has been a lot of talk about how the failing economy has and will impact the world of sports. It's been very negative. Major League Baseball and the National Football League cutting their workforces to save some cash, and NBA teams taking out loans to shore up their financial situations.

Those type of stories show how sports doesn't exist in a bubble independent of the rest of us. That's why I'll be blogging on sports and the economy.

But to start I want to focus on a column written by ESPN's Rick Reilly earlier this month. Using the Internet, he realized it was possible to snag tickets to 14 sporting events for under $100 total.

This was a striking contrast to conventional wisdom. All the new stadiums have been driving ticket prices through the roof. When I do get to go to a game, I'm finding cheap hot dogs outside a stadium or I probably don't eat. But Reilly set out to prove that with a little work, it's possible to turn the situation positive.

The heart of this issue is also negative. The most astute point that Reilly makes is that "Some fans with season tickets can't afford the parking, the $7 Cokes or even the razor to shave beforehand." It makes sense. For once, it isn't the rich getting richer. When it becomes much more economical for season ticket holders to stay at home and watch the game on TV, the result is $3 NBA tickets and $4.50 seats in MLB stadiums.

There are flaws with Reilly's plan, and he tries to get around them with jokes, such as packing hamburger buns and loading them up with free condiments for food. But obviously season ticket holders will encounter games that they can't or don't want to go to, and right now, the potential buyers hold the upperhand.

It's still possible to get $5 upper deck game day seats at Nationals Park (which also lowered prices for about 14,000 other seats for its second season). That's like getting a Cy Young season from a cheap rookie pitcher, a bargain in every sense of the word.

And in this economic climate, you have to look for bargains wherever possible. A little work on the Internet could pay big dividends. Just remember the person who had to sell the seat you're sitting in for less than the price of a McDonald's Happy Meal.

-Eric Detweiler

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