Baseball on the Cheap

April 20, 2016

Opening day has come and gone, and now we have the entire summer to enjoy baseball in one of the most beautiful settings in all the majors. Recent history aside, I’m keeping my fingers crossed and have a good feeling about this season! Going to a few games can be pretty expensive, so I thought I’d take a Moneyball approach: it’s all about getting a good value for what you can spend.

Pre-game warmups

Beer is as much a part of attending a baseball game as peanuts and cracker jacks, but it’s easy to spend way too much on just a couple of drinks.  Why not pre-game it? Enjoy a beer at home and hop on the light rail—or catch an alternative form of transportation—to go to the game. If you only get one beer at the ballpark you’ve saved around $6 or more. The bars around LoDo are another way to save money, since many of them have game day specials.

Develop a good farm system (your fridge)

Coors Field actually has a wonderful food selection within the ballpark, but if you’re bringing your family or you’re just on a budget, bring some snacks. If you do, make sure to check out what types of containers can and can’t be brought into the park.

Bring sunflower seeds, sandwiches, and other food you normally buy at the game.  Use collapsible containers for your drinks so you don’t have problems entering the park.  You can also bring empty reusable containers and go to the water fountain to fill them up.

Just like hitting, timing is everything

Do some schedule research. If you don’t care which team the Rockies are playing, go to games that offer giveaways or deals such as: t-shirts, baseball caps, or $1 hot dog day. You can also avoid going to “premium” games—ones against opponents that command higher ticket prices (think Yankees or Red Sox).

There are also games with special entertainment such as fireworks shows, all kids run the bases, or pre-game yoga.  Note those days are in high demand so start looking at the schedule now..

And like pitching, location is key

I have a particular process for choosing where I sit in the park depending on the time of year. I’m particularly fond of the 200 section underneath the awnings during the earlier part of the season because you’re protected from rain and snow. But if it’s the heart of summer I’m happy to sit in the Rock Pile. It can get a little rowdy in the Rock Pile, but the tickets are some of the cheapest in the big leagues—usually ranging from $4-$6 a ticket.

Make transportation a steal

If you decide to drive to the game you’ll also need to factor the cost of gas and parking. The further from the ballpark you park, the cheaper the lot will be. On opening day, parking lots located within two blocks of Coors Field were charging $80 a space. That’s a lot of money.If you plan ahead, use the app Parkopedia to get information on the price for parking in downtown parking garages and lots. Please note: the game day prices might not be reflected on the website.

If you decide to take the bus or light rail to get downtown plan ahead! Tickets cost $5.20 a person round trip for a day pass you can purchase a pass from one the kiosks at all of the light rail stations. Children under the age of 5 get to ride for free. The kiosks take cash, debit, or credit, but make sure you have more than one method with you just in case.

Game day transit tends to be pretty crowded so plan on riding the train with a ton of your closest friends. Go downtown a little earlier than usual so you can avoid the rush.

Coloradans are very lucky to have one of the most beautiful baseball stadiums in the nation. Take some time to create a plan so you and your team can have an amazing day at the ballpark this summer without breaking the bank.

This post was written by PERA member Michelle Jackson, a former University of Colorado employee and personal finance/lifestyle blogger. If you're interested in writing for The Dime send us an email at dimecontact at copera dot org.