In Pursuit of the Cheap Ticket

A large part of my disposable income goes for the price of tickets for entertainment.  You can hardly go to the bathroom without a ticket anymore.  I’m heading to my grandson’s junior high football game today.  It’s hard to believe, but they charge admission to that event.  I’ll drive 45 minutes on terrible Missouri back roads and pay to see 13 and 14 year old boys either crunch smaller kids or get creamed by bigger kids.  Mound City should pay me to go to the game.

This weekend, I can’t wait to go to the movie Money Ball.  It’s based on a book about statistics and baseball; that’s right up my alley.  It does require a ticket to watch this sports movie.   It’s a nice chunk of change to watch a movie that will be on Netflix in a couple of months.  Why don’t I have the patience wait and see it for almost free?  It is called disposable income.  I have to spend it.

The Spoofhounds have a great football team.  They are in the middle of a terrific season.  I certainly don’t mind paying the five bucks to see them demolish the local opponents.  The real waste of disposable money is the few dollars I pay for Sam, my 11-year old son, to enter the hollowed Hound Pound.

The first thing he does is take off to the south end of the field where almost every middle school kid allowed out of the house on Friday night congregates.  He probably glances at the scoreboard occasionally.  Sam is covering his bases if his old man quizzes him on the progress of the game.  Just as I’m about to get into a warm, cozy car, Sam informs me he has to celebrate the Spoofhound win with a trip around the football field. Sam high-fives every high school kid that wears a uniform with grass stains.  He hides the fact he hasn’t seen a play.  This represents another use of disposable income.

A ticket to a Bearcat sporting event is really a good deal.  The season ticket holders may grumble they have to join the Booster Club, but it is still great entertainment.  Here’s where disposable income collides with cheap tickets.  I will volunteer to find tickets for my friend or some of Sam’s friends.  I think Sam actually watches a little of the college game.  Heck, I even offered to get tickets for my ex-wife’s husband.  He was a huge fan of Josh Lamberson, who grew up in our hometown.

It’s when I get requests from people I barely know that things get out of hand.  I hate to say no, but you can’t just give out free tickets to anyone.  Surely, everyone has some disposable income.

During last year’s 29-5 women’s basketball season, I got a call from an Iowa high school coach asking for tickets for his team.  The best I could do was student general admission tickets.  I think the way our team was performing; it was worth the small price of a ticket.  However, the high school failed to make the trip to Maryville when they found out they had to shell out disposable income.  They missed a great game.

Competition for cheap tickets is all over the internet.  Sam and Jacob, my grandson (the junior high football player) wanted to go to the College World Series in Omaha.  The two baseball junkies had picked their favorite teams and followed the NCAA brackets. By chance, both teams made it to Omaha.  Not only that, but they were facing each other.

To surprise them, I ordered a South Carolina jersey for Sam and a Texas A&M jersey for Jacob.  There’s another use of disposable income.  We were all set except for one crucial point; we had no tickets.  Mel Tjeerdsma, our retired football coach, has series reserved tickets, told me when he didn’t use his tickets, he put them on a website called Flash Seats.  Flash Seats is pretty localized, with tickets for the Denver, Houston, and the Salt Lake City areas.  It also was the official ticket provider of the College World Series.

I have never bid for tickets, but this was fun.  I would pick the seats, put in a bid, and put in my time limit for a decision.  Unlike other sites like Ebay, the time limit is on the seller not the buyer.  I saw four seats right behind home plate, made a ridiculously low bid, set my time limit for 12 hours.  I forgot about it, thinking no one would consider my bid.

A couple of hours later, I was rejected, but I noticed the buyer took a bid that was close to amount of my bid.  For my motivation, that was like a cattle prod to a poor calf being chased by a couple of cowboys.  I dug in, picked four more tickets that were near home plate and increased the bid slightly.  I put my time limit at two hours.  I must have intimidated the buyer, because two hours later I was proud owner of four College World Series tickets to the South Carolina – Texas A&M game.  I had limited the loss of disposable income.

When we got to the stadium, Sam, Jacob, Zach Patton, a friend of Sam’s, and I went to Gate 2 unsure on how the whole process works.  If I had purchased the tickets on-line with the Kansas City Royals, I would have to pay a fee to print my own tickets.  That not a big surprise, considering the Royals bleed you out of every possible cent of disposable income.  To my surprise, it didn’t cost me a penny with Flash Seats.  At Gate 2, the ticket-taker with what looked like a fanny pack waited until I dug out the credit card I used to purchase the tickets.  He swiped it through the machine that looked like the fanny pack, and presto, it printed our tickets.  I had found a new best friend.

As a side note, the game was great.  Texas A&M scored four runs in the first, but so did the Gamecocks of South Carolina.  The two pitchers settled in and put up zeros until the ninth inning.  South Carolina played Houdini by escaping an impossible jam in the top of the ninth.  Texas A&M had no such luck and the Gamecocks won in a walk-off.  It was worth every cent I spent on Flash Seats.

With my experience with Flash Seats, the competition was on for the cheapest ticket.  This summer, Sam and I planned to watch five games at The Rangers Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  The Rangers were in first place and despite 100+ degree temperatures; the place was packed most nights.

I waited as long as I could and checked Flash Seats.  I was really disappointed to find out Flash Seats wasn’t associated with the Texas Rangers.  Now I turned to StubHub.  You couldn’t bid for tickets on StubHub, but it was like airline tickets; if you waited another day, the price was going to change, usually toward cheaper tickets.  My competitive juices were really flowing now.  I needed to save my disposable income.

With StubHub, they show a map of the stadium seating.  If there are seats for sale in a certain section, the color of the section will light up.  Put the cursor of your computer on the lighted section and the number of seats available will appear.  Click on the section and it will specifically show the seats and the prices.

StubHub had tickets for Ranger games for as low as $1.95.  The problem was they were as far from home plate as you could get.  I sat in those seats plenty of times, but Flash Seats had spoiled Sam.  Instead, we took tickets with a face value of $35, bought them for $20 and had pretty good seats in the second level down the third base line.  You couldn’t exactly touch Josh Hamilton, the Ranger’s left fielder, but you could see his tattoos.

Later in the summer, Chuck, a friend of mine, was looking to go to a St. Louis Cardinal’s game.  I told him about how StubHub worked and suggested he try it.  He called me later as he had saved a bunch of money on tickets in the lower level of Bush Stadium.  Chuck would reappear in my competitive search for tickets late in the season.

There’s one thing better than cheap tickets from Flash Seats or StubHub; that’s free tickets.  There’s serious competition for the few free tickets out there.  Men’s basketball assistant coach, Austin Meyer, has formed a close friendship with a Royals season ticket holder.  The seats are in a great location, too.  Austin has gone to numerous Royals games free this year thanks to befriending a fellow fan that bleeds Royal blue.

To find free tickets, you can go about it two ways.  The first is to prey on your friends that you know have tickets.  Last year, my dentist gave me two tickets to Fan Appreciation Night.  Sam’s seat hit it big when he won a life size poster of the final out of the 1985 World Series, as well as four autographs, plus a gift certificate to a burger place in the plaza.  When I checked for those same tickets this year, they were all ready claimed.  Success makes for hot tickets.

I thought if Austin wasn’t going, maybe I could score his normal free tickets.  Austin decided to go elsewhere, I think it’s a woman, but the tickets were already claimed.  I had struck out with my friends, just like Casey at the Bat.

There’s another method that I use occasionally.  If just Sam and I are going, we’ll wander around the tickets windows looking lost and homeless.  If anyone has extra tickets, they always look for the lonely father taking his kid to a ball game.  This has worked numerous times, especially when Sam was younger.  We have twice scored tickets right behind home plate, plus other sets of free tickets.  I love the word free.

Saturday was Fan Appreciation Night for the Royals.  Since free tickets were out and Sam was getting older, I decided to use StubHub.  I sweat it out for two days.  The first time I checked, over 700 tickets were available.  I need six tickets and that made it a little tougher.  Trying to stay patient, I finally went to the StubHub site just after noon of game day.  I was rewarded for my patience with six tickets for $11 each.  I think the face value was over $25.

As we sat enjoying the game and hoping to win another prize, a man came over to talk to me.  It was Chuck who had called me about St. Louis tickets.  He was in the section beside us, but much high up.  You can guess what his first question was; how much did you pay for tickets?  It turned out Chuck paid $13 for his tickets.  I pumped my fist in the air.  Triumph!  It might not have been free tickets, but I had beaten Chuck for cheaper tickets.  I had spent less disposable income.  By the way, the Royals won and Sam didn’t win a prize.  It was almost a perfect night.

This entry was posted in Women's Basketball by Gene Steinmeyer. Bookmark the permalink.
Gene Steinmeyer

About Gene Steinmeyer

Gene Steinmeyer coached the Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team for 13 seasons before retiring after 26 years as a collegiate head coach after the 2011-12 season. He retired as the second winningest women’s basketball coach at Northwest as his 2010-11 team won both the MIAA Regular Season and Tournament Championship advancing to the NCAA National Semifinals one game shy of the national championship game.