Tickets to major sporting events too pricey? You have options!
College and professional football are kicking off new seasons, baseball pennant races are heating up, and auto racing, golf and tennis all have major events before year’s end. Ticket prices for the biggest events reflect high demand and low supplies. Many of the most attractive competitions are already sold out. You’d like to attend one, but with all tickets in the hands of buyers, it looks like more time in front of the TV for you… or does it?
The sold-out sign doesn’t mean you can’t obtain tickets. If you’re willing to pay above face value for tickets to just about any event, you likely can get in the door. But what if you have a limited budget, or simply refuse to pay more than the original cost of a ticket? You still have options.
Timing is important
On the secondary market, ticket prices tend to be most expensive two weeks or more before a sold out event is scheduled. It is a common misperception that ticket prices rise the closer it is to the actual day of competition. The opposite is often, but not always, true.
Tickets to big events are often purchased by brokers who may have a large quantity to move. Many times they will sell most of their inventory weeks or even months ahead of time at inflated prices. At some point in the remarketing process, the brokers are guaranteed to turn a profit on their lot of tickets, even if their remaining inventory goes unsold. Once they hit that threshold, if available tickets aren’t selling for big dollars, they’ll start lowering prices to clear out what’s left.
It’s all about supply and demand. By game day you might be able to score ducats for close to face value — and if it’s minutes before or after the start, you might even get in for less. An example of rapidly falling prices for major event tickets, where supply far exceeded demand as the event grew closer, was reported in the Miami Herald days before baseball’s 2017 All-Star game. Typically very hot tickets, prices plummeted for all of the events associated with the All-Star game, including the game itself.
Buying online from an individual
Individual ticket-holders and buyers use a variety of online marketplaces as intermediaries that facilitate transactions for a fee. It is the safest way for both parties to complete a deal. They do not meet face-to-face, funds are transferred electronically, and the marketplace operators guarantee the authenticity of the tickets. Many times, tickets can be printed at home, sent to smart phones for display and admission at the gate or, in some instances, actual tickets may require overnight shipment, which the intermediary facilitates.
Beware when buying outside of a venue
The age-old practice of buying and selling tickets near a venue the day of an event is still going strong, but that method is not without issues. Skyrocketing prices have motivated unscrupulous people to create counterfeit tickets for sale on the street. Paying cash outside of a stadium leaves little recourse if you’re turned away at the gate because you bought fakes. The seller will be long gone by the time you realize you have been duped.
There are a couple of safeguards if you must buy on the street. If a seller is offering tickets at prices much lower than others, beware. They may be trying to dump counterfeits or even stolen tickets as quickly as possible. If you have any suspicions, ask the seller to go with you to the gate to verify the authenticity of the tickets. If he or she refuses, walk away.
Some sports venues now have “scalp-free zones.” These areas are staffed by law enforcement and team employees who are available to verify the authenticity of tickets before parties agree to a transaction. This is your best bet for safe, outside-the-venue purchasing on the day of the event.
Some scalp-free zones don’t allow for tickets to be sold above the original purchase price. Many of the sellers you will encounter are people that have extra seats they purchased for their own use, whose circumstances changed and are simply looking to recoup their costs.
Bottom line: As is the case shopping for season tickets, it pays to do some homework, and to be as flexible as you can.