5 ways to save money at an MLB game

You can spend a lot more days at the ballpark than you think. There are plenty of ways to save money every season!

With the start of the MLB season right around the corner, I wanted to write a blog about one of my favorite topics: attending an MLB game. The only catch of this piece, especially compared to some of my others, is that I am going to talk about how you can go to a game without spending too much money or indulging in tons of hot dogs, soda, beer, and other delicious foods they may offer. Most ballparks have a few areas/foods they are very well known for. Believe me, I have tried my share of these foods around the country. I’ve tried the awesome hot dogs and nachos at Busch Stadium in St Louis, I’ve had my fair share of IC Light’s at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, I had the pleasure of eating some gigantic Comiskey Dogs at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, and I’ve made several trips to the Cheesesteak stands at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. However, as a guy who lives within driving distance of so many ballparks, the idea of indulging in so many of these treats several times a season can become too much of a good thing.
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While attending an MLB game can be fairly inexpensive compared to the other three major sports leagues in the US, it can still add up to being a pretty expensive day out. If you go to games multiple times per season, it can really start to add up. Since my wife is a little more business minded than I am, she did the numbers and started to realize that we were overspending during one season a few years ago. Although we still like to indulge and try new things at the ballpark, we’ve actually come to find that you can still go to a lot of games and keep it affordable at the same time. Here are a few ways in which we get around the expenses during the baseball season.

Bring bottled water

If you read the FAQ fine print on your local team’s website, you’ll learn a lot of the rules that each ballpark abides by. One rule that can be found at most ballparks is that you are allowed to bring your own bottled water. The only catch is that this bottle must be unopened prior to walking in. If you’ve been to a ballpark on a hot summer day, you’ve probably noticed that there are several vendors out there who would love to sell you a $7  bottle of water. That’s great, but you may want to get ahead of things and buy a bottle before you even get to the ballpark. An even better idea, something my wife and I have been doing for a few years now, is buy water bottles in bulk and freeze them the night before the game so that the water stays pretty cool for most of your day out. It is much cheaper and really beats these vendors at their own game.

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Before you go to a game, buy a few bottles of water and put them in the freezer overnight. You’ll be glad you did the next day!

Prepare and pack sandwiches

Most ballparks offer so much unique, delicious food that it is hard to imagine walking in without atleast trying a hot dog or two. I’ve certainly been there myself. My mouth is practically drooling just thinking back on all of the amazing food I’ve tried over the past few summers. However, this too can become very pricey. Especially if you go to a lot of games. This is why packing a few sandwiches can be a good idea. You can use those ice cold unopened bottles of water to help keep your sandwiches and other food cold and fresh on your way to the ballpark. We usually enjoy bringing something as simple as a ham and cheese sandwich or a bag of goldfish. We also like to bring veggies with us as well. It may sound like we are taking something out of the typical ballpark experience, but it can actually save you a lot of money to eat this way. Especially if you go to a lot of games.

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Eating too much food like these delicious Busch Stadium Nachos in St. Louis will put a dent in your wallet after awhile.

Bring a backpack

This might seem like a burden, but I’ve actually found that bringing a backpack with you can be very beneficial. It also makes sense for us considering how we approach the two points listed above. Most ballparks have restrictions on how big the backpack can be so be sure to check out the FAQ section of your favorite teams site before you leave. The backpack can also be very helpful in storing bobbleheads and other giveaways that tend to get misplaced. Receiving these items can be fun, but it can feel like a burden since you have to carry them with you everywhere you go. Bringing a backpack can help with that. If you are attending a game during the early spring or late summer, you may want to pack a sweater or jacket in this bag too. That way you have access to something you can warm up in rather than having to go to one of the ballpark stores and buy one.

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With a few minutes of preparation, items like these (plus maybe a sandwich or two) could save you a ton of money at the ballpark this year.

Download the Ballpark App

If you haven’t done this already, you are missing out on some fun. This app not only gives you offers that help you save money on tickets and items found in the ballpark, you can also get some exclusive giveaways that aren’t available anywhere else. This allows you to take some swag home with you and save money at the same time. Some of the swag we’ve acquired through this app has actually been pretty cool!

Park further away from the ballpark

The idea of parking further away from the ballpark might not always be an option. Milwaukee is the first place to come to mind as I don’t believe they have any other parking options around. However, most cities I’ve been to do have this option. It may not be appealing to a lot of people to walk down to the ballpark from a cheaper parking lot/garage, but it can save you some money. I’d much rather find an $8 lot that is only a few blocks away rather than a $20 lot (sometimes a little more than that) that is right across the street. That $10-$12 dollars I save could easily go towards buying a treat if I am still hungry after eating the food we brought with us.

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Cities like Washington D.C. offer several parking options that are budget friendly.

Double check the rules before you go!

Every ballpark is different, but I have found that most of the money saving points I discussed here can be applied to your day out at the ballpark. If you are frugal enough about your experience, it may even buy you one or two extra trips to the ballpark in 2018. The idea of doing some of this stuff seemed pretty odd to me when we first started. Why would I not eat a few hot dogs at a game? Why wouldn’t I go for another unlimited refill on a souvenir soda? The answer to this is simple, it not only adds up monetarily, it also starts to add up on your health as well. I am a big believer in experiencing everything a ballpark has to offer, but I am also a believer in maintaining balance in your life. If you go to ball games as much as I do, this guide should help to keep the experience fun, inexpensive, and maybe even a little healthier too!

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9 Responses

  1. Jokerscuckoo says:

    You’re absolutely right!! We go to many Indians games and want to hit up more this season but it gets pricey. Progressive Field let’s you bring bags, food, and I believe an unopened bottle of water into the stadium. Very rarely do we take advantage of this though, I think we treat it like a …treat when we go. Haha. Another good idea is eating before so you’re not super hungry and are tempted to pig out.

    Parking is tough, especially in Cleveland but you can find some cheap places if you’re willing to walk.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      First of all I love Progressive Field. Great place to see a game! It’s good to know that they will let you bring those items in with you. If you are able to bring a backpack, that will make storing your items even better. Freeze that water the night before so that it stays for the whole day.

      Cleveland is a little difficult when it comes to parking. I always just park down at the RnR HOF parking lot and walk, haha!

      • Jokerscuckoo says:

        Yup! The backpack is a nifty idea…for a few different reasons. Those bobble heads can be annoying to keep track of and hold. The idea about freezing the water is good, too bad we can’t bring beer in. Teehehe.

        Thanks! Glad you love it! We usually park around E.4th street and walk. Woah, that’s a lil’ stroll.

      • Marc Schmidt says:

        As much as I love getting bobbleheads I have to admit that they are very annoying to carry around for 3-5 hours.

        Haha! They aren’t going to let you bring beer since that is where they probably make a lot of their revenue. It probably keeps people from becoming too rowdy as well!

        The lil’stroll probably saves you money and is good for your health too. Great way to accomplish both!

  2. roamy says:

    Like most of us out there, money is always an issue and I`m always on the lookout for where I can save to make my money stretch, thanks for sharing.

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      No problem! I thank my wife for coming up with the ideas. I just put them all on paper. They really are a money saver!

  3. Bryan Carey says:

    Yes, parking further away makes a big difference! I hate paying for parking anyway- takes away too much from my beer budget

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Haha! I’d be curious to know what your favorite ballpark beer is. I don’t know how many stadiums you’ve been to, but I still think IC Light in Pittsburgh and Great Lakes in Cleveland/Pittsburgh are the best. Also had some good ones in Chicago too!

  4. Ivie says:

    Never been to an MLB game but this are very interesting ideas for saving money! Great way to save your money

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