By Alexander M.

Attending a live sporting event doesn’t come cheap. Tickets, transportation, refreshments, souvenirs – being a fan has its costs. However, with some diligence and savviness, you can make it to the game without breaking the bank.

To get an idea of how much it typically costs to attend a sporting event, we turned to TeamMarketing.com. The site utilizes a Fan Cost Index (FCI) as a tool to measure the average cost for a family of four to attend a single game of one of the four major professional sports leagues. Taking into account four regular tickets (non-premium seats), two small adult beverages, four small soft drinks, parking, and two inexpensive adult hats, they estimate the average cost for a family of four to attend a single baseball game is $219.53. Football, basketball and hockey fans are shelling out even more to go to games, with football costing more than double for a single baseball game ($480.89).

For the budget-conscious, those numbers likely will create doubts – do you really want to go to the game? Fortunately, we have some helpful tips that can minimize your expenses and maximize the fandom!

Tickets

Tickets will probably be the largest expense. Why? Well, if you don’t have any, you can’t go!

Companies like Ticketmaster  will contract with teams and/or venues to sell tickets to the public at predetermined prices. While the authenticity of tickets sold on firsthand sites is guaranteed, prices usually are considered expensive by fans due to overhead, that includes service fees, processing charges, facility fees and delivery fees.

Purchasing tickets secondhand is where big savings can be found. Usually, these are tickets being resold by either a private party or business. You’ll generally find secondhand tickets in one of three types of business: online auctions, online marketplaces and private party sales

Online auctions like Ebay allow users to establish and negotiate ticket prices. While fans may realize huge savings from a ticket’s face value, it’s important to remember that tickets sold through auction-based sites cannot be guaranteed and you could end up with counterfeit tickets.

In contrast to auction-based sites, online marketplaces do not provide the opportunity to negotiate. Popular sites such as StubHub and Seatgeek connect ticket sellers with buyers. Remember: ticket prices usually fall as event dates draw near.

Private party sales provide the opportunity to negotiate ticket prices, but you lose the anonymity that the internet provides. Whether they’re bought from scalpers or an acquaintance, there is great potential for securing a bargain. Be careful: some deals may be too good to be true. Counterfeiters will not hesitate to take advantage of unsuspecting fans.

Refreshments

Spending hours at the stadium can make you very hungry, or thirsty! But it can be very easy to overspend when you’re caught-up in the game day atmosphere.

The least expensive option is packing your own food and drinks before leaving home. Unfortunately, many stadiums and arenas have policies in place that restrict what types of refreshments fans can bring. Remember to check the rules before going this route.

If you’re not able to bring your own food, look for the opportunity to save on refreshments AND tickets. For example, the Arizona Diamondbacks sell all-you-can-eat seats. For just $34, fans can purchase one game ticket and have access to unlimited hot dogs, chips, popcorn, peanuts, bottled water and soft drinks.

Parking

The tickets have been bought and you’ve planned for refreshments. Now, how will you get there?

Keep in mind that parking costs generally parallel convenience. The closer you’d prefer to park to the event venue, the higher the parking fees. Parking structures located on the venue’s property likely will be the most expensive – not surprising considering they’re the closest and they know people will pay for the convenience.

Focus on finding privately-owned lots or garages within reasonable walking distance from the venue. While game day parking for D-Backs games at the Chase Field parking garage can range between $20 to $30, ballparksavvy.com reports that many private lots surrounding the ballpark charge as low as $5 for single-car parking.

To maximize savings, public transportation is your best option. Check your local bus or light rail schedules, as most transit authorities will typically have service to and from the game.

Just Have Fun!

Whether you’re a fan of a winning team, or one that hasn’t won a game in awhile, enjoy yourself at the game. And if you’re still worried about overspending, remember that the Arizona Federal mobile banking and  CardPower apps can help combat the temptation to blow your budget!

*All prices, websites and information included in this article are based on information found online as of July 2016. Prices and policies may be change.