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.
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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