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Are season tickets in your future?
It’s one of the most wonderful times of year for sports fans as the convergence of the four major North American team sports is upon us. College and NFL football are in full swing; Major League Baseball is counting down to the postseason; the NBA and NHL are on the cusp of their opening days; and college basketball is only a couple of months away.
While the couch and TV may be calling your name, little replaces the excitement of attending your favorite teams’ games in person. You know you want to be part of the action, but what’s your play? Do you want to spring for season tickets? It’s tempting, but other options may be better for watching your favorite teams, especially so for those whose seasons are already underway.
Your team’s success matters
Winning is double-edged: The better your team does, the less likely you are to be able to purchase season tickets. Case in point, if you want to buy a full-season package to see the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, get in line. They have been sold out for 2017-2018 season for quite some time and are only accepting applications via wait list. A number of NFL teams have been sold out of season tickets for years, such as the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots or the Green Bay Packers who, according to their website, have been sold out of season tickets since 1960!
Those are not the only teams for whom season tickets are not available for new buyers. In fact, it’s common for college and pro football to sell out, since there are fewer games per season, which means the investment of both time and money isn’t as much as is required for other sports. Even if the per-ticket average is higher for football, season packages cover just six or seven college games and eight to ten NFL contests (counting a couple of pre-season games that most teams require you to buy). That’s but a fraction of the 40-plus game packages required to buy season tickets for the NBA or NHL, and waaaay less than the 81 games in an MLB home season.
Individual game tickets may be your best option
An age-old sports axiom holds that “winning is the best promotion” and it has proven to be an immutable truth. Teams can have some great giveaways, from baseball bats and bobble-head dolls to replica jerseys and caps, but nothing makes the turnstiles click better than having a winning team. Simply put, the more a team wins, the greater the demand for tickets.
Since it’s possible, if not probable, that your favorite football team has no season tickets available (not to mention they’re already a couple of games into the schedule) single-game tickets are your best bet. You might also think about catching your favorite team in a road game. An early season check of Stub Hub showed that tickets to the December matchup between the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y. were going for only $60 each, while the lowest price for the same matchup in Foxborough, Mass. recently was about $140.
Season tickets or bust
If you simply have to have season tickets to make your life complete, you’re not alone. There are literally millions of season ticket holders across all sports.
“Buying season tickets is an investment in how you think your team is going to do that season,” Clint Cutchins, an analyst at SeatGeek, told CNBC. “If you think you’re in for a down year, it’s probably better to hold off and buy tickets on the secondary market” (where tickets may not be at a premium).
Here’s another line of thought. If your favorite team experiences a rough stretch and has several consecutive bad years, there is generally an attrition of season ticket holders that may open up opportunities. If you buy when a team isn’t doing well, then continue to renew your seats on an annual basis, voila! You’ll have the hottest tickets in town when that team returns to its winning ways.
Again, we’ll use the Golden State Warriors as an example. In 2010, the first year a rookie named Steph Curry was on the team, they finished the season with one of the worst records in the NBA, 31 games behind the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers. Season tickets were not a hot commodity in the San Francisco Bay Area that year. If you had bought then, and renewed each year, you’d have seen Curry evolve into one of the league’s greatest players and the Warriors win two NBA championships (so far). Predictably, demand for Warriors tickets has grown exponentially.
Season tickets come with perks
Though it’s true that it’s almost impossible to find season tickets for teams like the Warriors, Penguins, Patriots or Packers, other teams that have experienced down years may offer some pretty cool privileges to keep or bring more buyers onboard. For example, many teams will invite season ticket holders to meet-and-greet events with the players and coaches, others offer special discount packages that include additional tickets to attractive home games, while others may include vouchers for free or discounted food and team merchandise.
The NFL offers season ticket holders, regardless of team affiliation, several benefits, including discounts on NFL online purchases, and access to NFL Redzone, which allows members to watch Sunday games for free from their smartphones.
Major league baseball teams may be the kings of giveaways. They’ve got more seats to fill than any other professional sport and to get fans in the stands, they’ll offer logo-bearing products at many games. Season-ticket holders can get quite a haul during the course of a season. As an example, during a recent four-game stretch over the Independence Day weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals gave fans attending four games a jersey, a backpack cooler, a cap and a replica ring from one of their world championship seasons.
Hedging your ticket purchases
One final thought: Season tickets can take more of a bite out of your wallet than is within your comfort zone. If your favorite team isn’t flying high, they probably are selling partial season packages. These will often include tickets to games against top teams along with some for less-attractive opponents. However, if the team turns the proverbial corner and makes it into the postseason, partial season ticket holders are often rewarded with the ability to buy playoff tickets before the general public and may also be offered the option to buy full-season packages in succeeding years.