Price of tickets an obstacle in enjoying sporting events


By Alex Wise / Staff Writer

It’s been said time and again that the best things in life are free. By that logic, being a sports fan is far from one of the best things in life.

The time and emotional energy that many of us invest in our favorite teams is significant. I can’t count the number of times that Penn State football or Orioles baseball have been placed higher on my priority list than things like school or sleep – you know, stuff that matters. But, as I get older and slowly begin to understand the importance of making money, it’s becoming harder and harder for me to tangibly prove to myself that I really care about sports.

Over the past three days, I’ve had multiple opportunities to test my faltering allegiance to sports. I know that I’ll regret not taking advantage of said opportunities, but I also know that, to some extent, I’ll regret spending the money to attend.

By the grace of God, my Baltimore Orioles defied expectations, the media and any semblance of rational thinking to not only win the American League East, but sweep the Tigers in an ALDS series. After the clinching game, a friend informed me that his season-ticket-holding brother was looking to sell a few of his World Series tickets for their face value of $150 each, should the Orioles beat the Kansas City Royals in a best-of-seven, nobody-thought-we’d-be-here matchup. Potential World Series seats for $150. That’s unheard of when you consider that StubHub is currently selling standing-room-only tickets for the ALCS for upwards of $200.

In this situation, I’m very fortunate. I could end up going to a World Series game for a fraction of what the guy in the seat next to me might be paying. Game tickets get marked up beyond belief online, especially for rivalries and playoff games. Last year, I spent $250 on a ticket from StubHub to see Notre Dame play Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich. The experience was worth it, but I no doubt paid 500 percent higher than the actual price of the ticket. 

Ticket prices are sky high, sure, but they’re not the only cost involved. Baltimore is almost a full tank of gas away for me in my gas-guzzling 2001 Mercury Sable, and stadium parking isn’t cheap. Then there are souvenirs, food and beer — because I’m 21 and can do that now — and lots of other little costs that end up being more than the price of the ticket.

The second potentially can’t-miss offer that crossed my path this week was dirt cheap tickets to see Penn State play Michigan at the Big House this weekend. A good friend goes to Michigan and invited me and some others to stay with him at his fraternity house, tailgate and go to the game. We found tickets online for a reasonable price – especially compared to what I paid last year – but the other cost concerns remain: travel, food, beer, souvenirs and more. Fortunately, being broke college kids enables us to be happy about sleeping anywhere, so hotels aren’t an issue. The sticky, jungle juice-stained floor of a frat house works just as well as a king-size bed in these circumstances, if you ask me. But even with cheap tickets and free lodging, the weekend becomes a multi-hundred-dollar affair. 

And that’s what upsets me. I understand that sports are a business (and no, this won’t turn into a rant about whether or not college athletes should be paid), but it’s the fans who suffer for it. Nothing comes cheap. Tickets are marked up and hit with a “processing fee,” which makes me laugh and cry at the same time. Park your car a mile from the park for $20. Once in the stadium, prepare to max out your credit card on $12 beers, $15 nachos (cheese not included), and $30 T-shirts with a logo that, after being washed once, will fade faster than the memory of your paycheck.

All-in-all, the advantages of live sporting events are decreasing all the time. There’s nothing like being there, but games are simply too pricey for the average fan to go and still feel comfortable with the status of his or her bank account. Plus, my couch is just way too comfortable to get off of for cold metal bleachers and sharp winds, and the gigantic hi-def television in our living room is bound to be a better view than any view in any stadium. It’s flawless. And my self-control on ticket-buying is getting better.

At least, I thought it was.

Now, my self-control is lapsing. This is Penn State-Michigan, the Big House under the lights with 110,000 fans going bonkers. It’s supposed to be cold, but I have sweatshirts. The couch would be more comfortable than the bleachers, but I’ll stand the whole time anyway. The gas will be expensive, but I’m not going alone. I’m sure the guys will chip in. I’m more and more thoroughly convincing myself that this is a good idea. More, and more, and more …

And I just clicked “buy.”

Ann Arbor, here I come.


Leave a comment.