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How to Get Into the Big Game...Without the Big Price

Updated on January 30, 2010
Need to be here?  Yes, there's a way.
Need to be here? Yes, there's a way.

 Whether it's a key in-conference match-up, national tournament, or so-called world championship, a sporting event is a prime opportunity to drain a wallet.  Every sport fan can relate to the feeling of gaudiness that goes along with almost breaking the bank to make it to a key game, but they don't have to.  There are multiple ways in which key tickets can be snagged for low prices, even when sellouts abound.

Ticketmaster's system.
Ticketmaster's system.

Guaranteed Face-Value Options

 Though they don't usually result in the greatest selections, licensed ticket providers are always worth a look.  You never know what you'll find.  Some worthy options include:

  • Ticketmaster (  The most well-known ticket site, affiliated with most sports programs.  Even if it's not sports-related, you can find tickets for it here.  Site allows you to pick your price, level, section, and quantity (or just search for the Best Available), and all tickets are at face value, since it is not a third-party reseller site.  These come straight from the source:  the ticket office.  A small convenience fee awaits (along with shipping costs), though some events will allow you to print the tickets out for no additional fee.
  • Ticket office of the venue:  Whether online or in person, going to (or calling) the actual venue's office and inquiring about what tickets remain unsold can result in positive, face-value results.  The sooner the better, though, for the closer you get to game day, the thinner the selection gets.


In Case of a Sellout...

...go to online resellers. Sites for re-sale of tickets abound on the Internet, and here are a few of the most refutable (face-value is out the window now...):

  • StubHub! ( People who no longer want their tickets sell in droves on this site, and many times up to six or more will be available for one listing. Most listings show price per ticket, section, and row, and some even show seat numbers. The location of most listings is shown on an interactive seating map of the arena. Obviously, quantities are limited to whatever the seller has, and shipping and convenience fees once again apply. Here, the location of the seller puts you at its mercy, as a long distance raises shipping costs. There are many more sites which could be listed here, but StubHub is the most reliable, not to mention the fact that it seems the same ticket listings are shared by hundreds of "different" sites. A Google search for things like "sporting event tickets" and the like will allow to peruse the plentiful (and redundant) reseller sites for yourself.
  • eBay ( The ultimate site for truly "stealing" a good deal. Auction formatting and detailed descriptions (along with images of seating) are advantages to eBay, and tickets are often grabbed below face value. Once again, watch the shipping costs, making sure that the seller is either somewhat nearby or offering a low (or free) flat rate for shipping. Also, watch out for reserves, which attempt to gain a minimum final bid amount, and if you can, attempt to outbid your competition with just seconds remaining.
  • craigslist ( Simply find your city and state (or better yet, the city and state of the event) and go. After clicking on "tickets" under "for sale," either peruse all tickets to find the listing that suits you or do a specific search with key words like team names and dates. You may be required to call or e-mail the poster for specific details, but it is definitely worth it the game is a big one. Don't delay, though, because this site is first come, first serve, and listings are rarely deleted after tickets are sold. Be cautious of details and be patient, for new listings arise each day, offering more (if not better) options. *Also, try the city/state of the visiting team. There are often good deals here that cannot be found in the home team/venue's city.

The best place to buy?
The best place to buy?

Go to the Game!

 If you find yourself ticketless just hours away from the start of your event, don't fear!  Some of the best deals happen in person at the venue on game day.  On many college campuses, tickets can be sold for face value or less only, allowing you to get that Ticketmaster price for seats that may be even better.  Many times, lower level tickets can be found in the neighborhood of face value or less, because many people are unwilling or unable to attend the event.  Before you make a deal, go to the ticket lines outside the venue and find out what (if any) tickets remain for the event, because they may be of a better value than those independent sellers can offer you.  Never give up on the idea of frugally watching the events you want to see right where you want to see them:  live and in person. 


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