When you are a sports fan but also a college student, you face quite a predicament. Watching games on your TV, laptop or phone is fine, but nothing beats being at the game live. However, it is not too enjoyable to pay lots of money for terrible seats, and unless you have connections, you probably cannot blow all your money on great seats. (After all, it is enough of a struggle to pay a little extra for guac on your Cali burrito.)
Here are some tips for how to get the best view and have the best experience at sporting events without breaking the bank.
1. Get there early.
One of the best things you can do is get to the game early because it will help you familiarize yourself with the arena/stadium and know how to efficiently move from place to place. It also helps you scout out your opponent: the ushers and security guards. Some aisles have multiple people checking tickets, others only have one person. I like to look for younger ushers who are more relaxed, and I also recommend watching to see how carefully they check people’s tickets before the game. (Warning: don’t look suspicious and don’t let them recognize your face to stay under the radar later in the game.) As a bonus, some nice ushers might let you go down closer to take a few pictures at least.
2. Do your homework and take advantage of timeouts.
Although this requires additional work, I find this to be hugely beneficial to finding the right seat to sneak down to. I like to keep an eye out for tickets that are being re-sold on ticketing sites like SeatGeek because these are seats that will likely be empty. Also, use timeouts early in the game to look for open seats down below. Timeouts are longer than you think and last for several minutes while everyone at home gets to watch a bunch of commercials. Yes, there is often fun entertainment on the field or court like fans trying to make a halfcourt shot for cash or people in hot dog costumes racing around the outfield at baseball games. As fun as these are to watch, that is not the reason you are at the game, so take advantage of these breaks to scope out a few spots to move to.
3. Keep calm.
This is the most obvious tip, but it is important to act like you belong. If you seem nervous, the ushers are more likely to stop you and ask for your ticket, which is your cue to promptly turn around and walk away. Try to walk in with a group of people or when the usher’s attention is diverted. Walk calmly and avoid eye contact. As you find your seat, double check with people nearby to see if anyone has been sitting in your new seat. If you don’t make it past the usher or get asked to leave, keep calm and move on to another option. (This is why you scouted multiple options earlier.)
4. Don’t be too ambitious.
It might seem like you should try to get the best seats possible, but this is a bad idea. The first several rows are almost always entirely full, and there are also additional security guards and ushers the closer you get. Be content to have a good seat in row 15 and not the best seat in row 2.
These tips are almost foolproof for moving down to better seats. I personally have an incredible record of paying for the cheapest seats possible and finding my way down to much better and more expensive seats, so follow these tips to enhance your sports-viewing experiences.