How to Avoid Lines at the Ballgame

July 26, 2015
It seems almost impossible to go to a ballgame and not stand in line...for tickets, to get in, to get out of the parking lot, to get a train ticket, to get something to eat. At the more popular ballparks, even the newer ones, waiting in line for anything is almost a given. And it’s not fun.

So since Ballpark E-Guides is all about making your life more fun at the ballgame, I’ve come up with a few tips based on my own experiences about how to avoid standing in line (or sitting in line in your car).

They won’t work every time, but they should help!

1) Get There Early. I know this is obvious, and I also know that sometimes it’s not possible to get to the ballpark early.

But try. Get your boss to let you out of work an hour earlier. Get the kids out of school earlier if you must.

Getting to the ballpark when the gates open saves you from a slew of lines…to buy tickets, to get into the ballpark, to get something to eat, to buy a souvenir. You can do all of these things with virtually no waiting if you get to the ballpark early enough.

But I get that sometimes it’s just not possible. So keep these other steps in mind.

2) Embrace technology. Many teams will allow you to buy tickets online and use your smartphone to scan at the gate. Why not save yourself the trouble of waiting in line to buy tickets, or even to print them out at home? If the line is too long for tickets, just order them on your phone and scan it.

A lot of teams will also put a bunch of ticket kiosks right by the box office, and amazingly, people seem to prefer waiting in line at the window than use them. I beat a bunch of Mets fans into Citi Field recently simply by using one of these instead of the box office.

The Mets don’t even charge a fee for using it, although some teams might. The Reds have tons of kiosks at the gates; I hardly saw anyone using them. Don’t be intimidated; they’re not hard to use.

And look to see if you can avoid waiting in line for food too. The Yankees are starting to allow MasterCard holding fans to order food with an app called Qkr…which allows you to order a bucket of sliders or a Nathan’s dog and have it sent to your seat. Several teams, like the Phillies, allow you to use the “Ballpark” app to order food. Lines can get long at concessions stands too, so definitely look into what teams will do about it.

3) Avoid the main box office on game day. With popular teams, like the Yankees and Red Sox, waiting until game day to get your ticket almost guarantees that not only will you be waiting in line a while, but you could well miss a portion of the game if you’re late enough.

The box office is a good option for getting real tickets and avoiding fees, and some teams make sure they can handle the crowds, but it’s not worth it if you’re standing on cement for an hour or more to find that all of the good affordable seats are gone.

If a team has a box office location away from the local train stop or from most of the parking, you could try that, but you can’t always count on it.

4) Use the secret entrance. If there aren’t alternate gates that you can use that are less congested than the ones located closest to the parking or train station, try the ballpark restaurant if there is one…generally you should be able to enter from there.

This isn’t always the case; with the new metal detectors required at each ballpark, some teams haven’t gotten around to installing them at the secret entrances. (Comerica Park is an example as I write this.) If the front entrance is too congested, try a walk around the park. You might be surprised at what you find.

5) If using public transit, buy your return trip in advance. In big cities like New York and Chicago, after a ballgame there will always be dozens of people buying train tickets to their return destination, and I promise you, at least two of the patrons in front of you will not know how to use the machine. It gets exasperating until it’s your turn and you see this skill isn’t so simple after all.

Most big city public transit systems sell added value cards that allow you to load enough value onto your card for as many trips as you need. It can be complicated figuring it out, but spend some time on the transit website learning how if you can. It will save you a lot of waiting after the game.

6) Look for alternate locations of popular food items. Most teams have a food court or other large area where the most popular food items are sold, like Ashburn Alley in Philly, Eutaw Street in Baltimore, or the fantastic new Right Field District in Cleveland.

Lines get long and stay long for the unique items in these areas, and sometimes that is the only place to get them, like the Shackburger at Citi Field or the Campo’s Heater sandwich in Citizens Bank Park.

But sometimes there are alternate places to get popular food items. There is a Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries stand in the upper deck concourse in Philly; club level patrons in Baltimore can get Boog’s BBQ in the concourse; Citi Field has Pat LaFrieda’s steak sandwiches and Two Boots pizza on the Promenade Level with much shorter lines. If you’d like to try a go-to food item, have a look at the team’s ballpark map to see if there’s more than one stand for it.

There you go; six useful tips that should help you avoid the dreaded long line at the ballpark. It won’t save you every time, but at least you’ll be prepared!

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Ballpark E-Guides’ New Partner: Parking Panda!

July 12, 2015
Regular readers of the Ballpark E-Guides e-mail newsletter know how strongly I recommend reserving your parking in advance for baseball games.

Imagine driving to a ballgame and setting your GPS to the address of the garage or lot where you'll be parking, facing a minimal amount of traffic, and parking in a great affordable spot...which you've already paid for. Isn't that better than sitting in crawling ballgame traffic, just looking for a spot that isn't miles away and ridiculously overpriced...
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Buying Baseball Tickets Online

May 31, 2015
Isn’t it great to be able to buy tickets for a ball game while still wearing a robe and drinking coffee? I remember when I was a younger Orioles fan and had to use the telephone or the box office, and that’s one thing I don’t yearn for when fans talk about the “good old days”.

The best part is the choices you have; you can buy tickets through any of dozens of different outlets, and they have to compete for your entertainment dollar.

Since it’s part of my job to help you get the...

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Should I Buy Tickets On Craigslist?

March 1, 2015

Sports fans love to tell the story of the great deal they scored on tickets it through a scalper, great timing on StubHub, a classified ad, whatever. We love it. It makes us feel so much smarter than the suckers who paid three times the price for the same seats.

Frequently when I am poring through ballpark reviews, one or two folks will talk about getting their tickets on Craigslist, and saving a bundle of cash.

In case you’ve never used it, Craigslist is a website that falls somewh...
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Baseball Fan Mistakes I Used To Make

January 3, 2015
Since I've started researching everything there is to know about various baseball venues, I've learned a lot. Some things have saved me money, some things have saved me time, and some things have saved me a lot of aggravation.

Even I still don't always get it right going to a game, but I've definitely learned to avoid certain pitfalls. Here's a list of four mistakes I used to make in my misspent youth...

1) Buying tickets from the team website. By itself, this isn't always the worst thing to do...
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Which Ballpark Has The Best Food?

December 13, 2014

With ballparks featuring a full menu these days, I am asked this question by almost every radio show that is generous enough to have me on. It’s a fun question and I don’t mind answering it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a challenge.

Truthfully, since there are items worth trying and not worth trying at every venue—and since they almost all have some version of nachos, pizza, cheesesteaks, burgers, and of course, unusually topped hot dogs—you can probably find something that’s a...
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Try A Local, Bad Beer at the Game

December 10, 2014

Ballpark beer is so ridiculously priced nowadays that I’ve been staying sober at the game. It’s just not worth it to me; I’ll be a designated driver and get my free soda or have a few at a nearby tavern.

I suppose the plus of this is fewer inebriated people at the game; just Google “Ten Cent Beer Night” to learn what can happen when 50,000 sports fans can afford unlimited alcohol. And apparently some fans will still pay $9 for a Coors Light; far be it for me to stop them.

Many teams h...
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New Book About Old Comiskey

August 9, 2014
Looks like my buddy Floyd Sullivan at ChicagoNow, author of the endearing and humorous fan essay "Waiting For The Cubs" (see my review of that book here), has written a new book about the old Comiskey Park.

Well, I guess you can just call it "Comiskey Park" now, since the "New Comiskey Park" is now called "U.S. Cellular Field".

Check out Old Comiskey Park: Essays and Memories of the Historic Home of the Chicago White Sox, 1910-1991 here.

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A Universal Ballgame Parking Tip

July 30, 2014
In two recent ballpark outings, in Boston and Baltimore, I have learned that not only has the price of parking at a ballgame escalated, but also that the price is higher for high demand games these days.

Thankfully in Boston I always know better than to drive to Fenway Park; I know traffic in Kenmore Square on game day and parking prices are going to be insane. This last visit was no exception, but even I was surprised at what some lots almost a half mile away from the ballpark were charging. ...
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The Wrigley Rooftops Need Better Legal Counsel

July 9, 2014

I have been keeping up with interest on the ongoing saga that is the Cubs vs. Wrigley Rooftop owners. The latest story, other than the Rooftop owners offering a “two sign” concession to the Cubs, is that the recent Rooftop defamation lawsuit against a local sports consultant was thrown out of court.

When you get a suit thrown out of court that quickly, you’ve probably put up a weak argument. At least, that’s the perception.

If you’re unfamiliar with the background of this, briefly, t...
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