Ticket Buying Guide by Ultimate Sports Fan, Andrew

Just Another Regular Season Game
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  • Guide to Scalping Tickets
  • Championship Games
  • Playoff Games
  • Sold Out Games
  • Everyday Games
  • Second Tier Events
  • Street Smarts and Other Watch-outs
  • Need Help?
For everyday games, I hardly ever have a ticket in hand. If you want to save money, the best deals are available right outside the stadium. Some people are nervous negotiating outside of the stadium – either with a ticket scalper or a fan. However, since these regular season games are not sold out, the laws of supply and demand are in your favor. There are just more tickets than there are fans – so confidently ask for a price under face value. I guarantee you will save money from what you would have spent.

So how should you get started? First, use the box office as your negotiating position. Once you know the price of the ticket you want to buy never go higher – this may seem obvious but some scalpers have a way of guilting you into paying more than the price on the ticket (see demystifying the scalper).

Second, educate yourself on the current value of tickets…the market value on game day. Walk around the stadium at least once. Ask as many people as possible if they have any extra tickets. And never buy from the first person you ask. At this point you are only educating yourself on the market value. You should be thinking how low will these tickets go. For instance, you might find out that what is a $30 ticket at the box office is now only selling for $15 on the street.

Now it is time to get serious and get ready to buy. You have two choices: 1) Buy from a ticket scalper – less time but probably more money. 2) Buy tickets from a fan – less money but more time since you need to find the seller.

Negotiating with a Ticket Scalper:
1) Ask the broker how much and get him to give you a price. The broker may ask you “How much are you willing to pay?” Answer “not much.”
2) Once the broker gives you a price, cut his price in half or only offer $10 – whichever is lower.
3) Be prepared for the broker to be pissed and/or start to walk away. But don’t get embarrassed as this is all an act. Or, he is more pissed that you are a buyer that “knows too much.” His high price offer to you is no more insulting than your low ball offer to him.
4) In the end, if you cannot agree on a price walk away. Chances are he will follow you and accept your offer.
5) Have the money in your pocket already. If you pull out your wallet with lots of cash, the broker may be pushy and ask for more even though you already agreed on a price.
6) Have exact change. It will be much easier to pay for the price you agreed upon. A broker will not want to break a $20 – especially when you just negotiated the tickets to a lower price.

Negotiating with Another Fan:
1) Do not feel bad for the fan. He will not feel bad for you when you have extra tickets.
2) Ask the fan – “Do you want anything for that ticket?” Some fans just want to get rid of the ticket and do not want to hassle with selling it. Others are nervous to be selling around the stadium and do not want to be mistaken as a scalper. Chances are these fans will give you the ticket for free.
3) If the fan says they want something for the tickets offer them $10 – this is psychologically different than your strategy of working with a scalper. You want to start off reminding the fan that the ticket is not worth much.
4) Be ready for the emotional response that the fan will be angry with your offer – especially if it is a lower level ticket. Remember, with a game that is not sold out, you can still sit in the same section, but you do not have to sit directly next to the seller.
5) In the end, if you cannot agree on a price walk away. Chances are the seller is too emotionally invested in the ticket and would rather lose the entire value of the ticket than sell it to you for so low. Do not be discouraged though as another fan will be approaching you shortly. As we said before, buying from fans directly takes more time which means you need to have more patience.
6) Have the money in your pocket already. If you pull out your wallet with lots of cash, the fan, as with the scalper, will want more money for the ticket or be pissed that you just do not want to pay his asking price. You may lose your seller.
7) Have exact change. Once again, especially a regular fan, will not want to make change for a low-ball price.
8) If the seller appears angry, remember you do not have to sit with them since there are empty seats in the stadium. Be happy you just bought a great seat and sit a few seats over.

Demystifying the ticket scalper
The ticket scalper is just an ugly name for a match maker or middleman between two fans – one trying to buy and one trying to sell. Many times fans, corporate guys and people who receive free tickets are just looking to unload their seats because they cannot use them. The scalper makes it easy on them by buying their seats for a fraction of what they are worth.

However, scalpers have a weakness. Their biggest fear is being stuck with an abundance of tickets they cannot use. So although most people think scalpers profit through exorbitant prices, more often than not they are making their money by selling tickets for less than face value. The trick is that the scalper will act as though they are losing a ton of money. But don’t worry, he probably got that ticket for free or at the very most bought it for $5 or $10. One time I low-balled a scalper so under face that he said, “You are a bad, bad man.” I took this as a sign that I received a great price and the scalper was not that upset as he still sold his tickets.

Extenuating Circumstances
Admittedly there are going to be times when do not want to negotiate outside the stadium even though you would get a better price by doing so. For example, you may want the security of tickets in hand for a gift, for a client, or you are hosting a large group (scalpers generally do not have 10 tickets together and if they do you will have to pay).

In these “extenuating circumstances” do not buy from the box office, or worse, Ticketmaster. StubHub or Craigslist will most likely be your best option. Tickets on these sites will still be under face value as fans who have extra tickets but will not be driving to the stadium are trying to sell their tickets before they waste them.