How to Save Money on Playoff Tickets

Posted by Kurt Smith on Sunday, October 2, 2016
The MLB Playoffs are here, and of the six division winners that have already punched their tickets to the postseason, only one...the Boston Red Sox of all teams...have seen a World Series championship since 1988.

Four of these teams haven’t even won a World Series in the ballpark they currently play in...that includes the Cubs...and two teams still haven’t grabbed a World Championship ring in their history. So playoff tickets will be in high demand.

Actually that’s a bit of an understatement. Cubs World Series tickets, should they make it, are starting at $2,000 for standing room.

It may be a little late for some of these tips to be useful, but file this away for next year, because if you’re seeking playoff tickets you can save a boatload of money by planning ahead:


1)    Pay attention to the team newsletter.

You should always be signed up for a team's ticket alert newsletter for any ballpark you plan to visit, of course, but the newsletter will let you know a) when season ticket holders can buy playoff tickets, since they will get first crack at it, and b) when the rest of us can buy tickets through the team, which will most certainly be cheaper than going through the markup.

Most teams give playoff ticket opportunities to folks who put down a deposit on a season ticket plan for the following season. This might be worth considering...you may want to get a friend or two in on it or sell your unwanteds on StubHub. If a team that hasn’t been good in a while suddenly goes deep into the playoffs, chances are good that tickets for the following season will go for much dough on the third party market.

But even if you have no season ticket aspirations, there will be some tickets still available through the team, and you’ll get an e-mail letting you know when they go on sale. You’ll have to be ready to jump on it as soon as they do, but the markup especially for teams like the Cubs will be significant...count on it being at least double the face price.

By the way, the team might hold a contest or an auction for playoff tickets, as the Cubs are doing...


2)    Keep checking with the team.

It does happen; players and officials return their extras. Maybe not as much for critical games, but you never know. The point is to remember that playoff tickets especially will almost always be cheaper going through the team than through an agency or a third party.


3)    Go for the “if necessary” games.

In my searches I noticed that when teams are making division series tickets available, the tickets for the first two “necessary” games go far more quickly than the game five or whatever tickets. So look into this option if you don’t absolutely have to go; you’re more likely to land a better seat at face price.

The team will refund whatever amount you pay for games that don’t get played (I presume that includes the fees), small consolation for missing the playoff game, but at least it’s safe.


4)    Remember the third party market rules.

If you have to go through StubHub or SeatGeek rather than through the team, you’ll be paying more, obviously, but you at least don’t have to submit to the team’s season ticket demands.

Remember basic rules for using third party sellers: wait until about 2-5 days before the event to pick up tickets, or till the last minute if it isn’t that important to you, and be ready to snap up a good deal if one appears (hard to gauge, I know, just be realistic).

Also, be sure to go all the way to the checkout screen to compare prices; SeatGeek includes the fees in the displayed cost, but StubHub does not, and you may be very surprised at the difference between ticket prices in similar sections.

You can set alerts on both SeatGeek and StubHub, but thus far that hasn’t worked very well for me recently. Couldn’t hurt though.

I've gotten great deals on SeatGeek; so I recommend trying them first.


5)    Be extra wary of scalpers and Craigslist.

I’ve written before about buying tickets on Craigslist and the potential for fraud, and how it’s generally not worth worrying about being scammed. It’s the same with scalpers. There are some things to know dealing with both, but the large majority of the time they are legit.

During the playoffs, though, when the stakes are higher and the costs of tickets skyrocket, you will occasionally read stories about scalpers and people on Craigslist selling fake tickets. I’m betting we may hear a story about this in Chicago. Just be extra careful.

If you decide to try the scalper route, by all means check out this advice from my buddy Andrew Van Cleve. He nails down deals for tickets that I only dream about.


6)    Consider going on the road.

Let’s say you’re a die-hard Cubs fan who can’t put a second mortgage on their house to see a postseason game at Wrigley. Why not look into a trip to D.C.? Or L.A.? Or for that matter, Detroit? The Tigers could still make it as I write this, and we could see a World Series between two teams that are just a four-hour drive apart.

Since you’re reading this now for next season, if you think going to see your heroes on the road might actually be cheaper than seeing your team at home, sometime in mid-August...mark August 15 on your calendar...you should subscribe to the team newsletters of any team you think might make the playoffs. Remember, tickets will almost always be cheaper through the team.


Again, these tips may probably only be slightly helpful now, but if you want to get playoff tickets without losing your shirt, most likely you’ll have to plan well ahead anyway (I’ll re-post this earlier next time). So look into splitting a season ticket deal with a friend (you should probably share the postseason tickets too, just saying), subscribe to team alerts, and get your best practices on with StubHub.

And make sure you invest in one of these, of course...


Tags: tickets  cheap tickets 
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