Bargain Ball: Beating the Stadium System

Ryan Klinkert

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Since 2002, ESPN The Magazine has produced an annual Ultimate Standings guide, which measures all professional teams from the four major American sports leagues in a myriad of categories.

Such categories include ownership, fan relations, and stadium experience. But perhaps the most imperative of the bunch, in regards to students, is affordability.

Since the Kings and Lakers aren’t currently playing, and Los Angeles is still a few years away from landing an NFL team, the Dodgers, by default, will be put in the scrutiny crosshairs.

The Dodgers ranked an appalling 101 out of 122 total teams, and 26th out of 30 baseball teams in the affordability category.

Affordability is also broken down into three sub-categories: tickets, parking and concessions.

The results aren’t any better.

Out of the 122 total teams, and 30 baseball teams, the Dodgers came in at 93, 118, 110 and 26, 29, 27, respectively.

“Just the thought of seeing a Dodger game feels expensive,” said Jack Bryant, a senior broadcasting journalism major at CSUN and avid baseball fan.

According to the 2011 Team Marketing report, the average ticket price for the Dodgers is $30.59. Parking is an astronomically high $15.

Concessions prices are equally dismal. The famed Dodger Dog costs $5 (The most expensive basic hot dog out of 30 MLB teams), small and large beers costs $6 and $10 respectively, sodas cost $3.75, and a bag of peanuts is $4.

Adding up the costs for the ticket, parking, and food (hot dog and a beer is a popular ballpark combo), the total comes out to a staggering $56. Such a price is simply out of the question for students.

However, with a few tweaks and sacrifices, that $56 can be reduced to about $25, and perhaps even lower, depending on the level of creativity. Here’s how.

While the average ticket price is just over $30, there are still deals to be had. Fans with a valid student ID can purchase a ticket for $10 anywhere on the reserve level, a 70 percent savings off the game day pricing.

In addition, stubhub.com is a great resource, if you know what to look for. Tickets for day or weeknight games are often sold at absurd discounts. Ticket holders will further slash prices hours before a game just to get something in return.

The parking dilemma can be solved in two ways. Either go to the game with a group, subsequently making the $15 fee easier to swallow, or utilize the bus or subway metro (yes, LA does have a subway!).

“I see more and more Dodger fans use the subway every year,” said an LA Metro employee. “It sure beats sitting in traffic.”

The North Hollywood and Universal City stations are about 15 miles from CSUN campus, and parking is free. The boarding ticket fee is $1.50, making a round trip $3. The Red Line ends at Union Station. The entire ride takes 25 to 30 minutes.

In 2009, The Dodgers teamed up with LA Metro to accommodate fans arriving at Union Station by introducing Dodger Trolleys, instantly becoming a huge success. However, they were promptly discontinued the next year due to financial woes. Fortunately, they were brought back this year.

“I like to take the Subway when I go to Staples Center and Dodger Stadium,” said Bryant. “The shuttle facilitated that for me. I’m glad they bought it back.”

The best part about the trolley service? It’s free, so long as you have a valid Dodgers ticket in hand. Shuttles start 90 minutes before the game and up until the third inning. They also run for 45 minutes after the game is over. $15 instantly diminishes to $3.

Now on to food expenses, and here’s where creativity really prevails.

Contrary to popular belief, ballparks allow you to bring in food and bottled water, so long as the seal has not yet been broken. (Yours truly brought an entire pizza to a game once upon a time). The options are seemingly limitless, so long as you don’t mind the quizzical stares from security, and the thorough probing of the contents that ensues. Five dollars worth of fast food should be enough to get through a three hour game.

Don’t worry…I didn’t forget about the alcohol. There are two options.
Bring beer on the metro and drink it outside the stadium. Think of it as tailgating sans the car, or better yet, “metrogating”. If the need for alcohol during the game is too strong to resist, there’s a solution. Take two empty bottles, fill one with gin, and the other with tonic (or simply use one bottle and mix the two) all the way to the top so as to give it the appearance of being sealed. Ask for a cup with ice at a concession stand and voila, instant cocktails. Sneaking a flask in is also a possibility, but with random metal sweeps and pat downs, the risk of getting caught is much higher. (Binoculars featuring hallow chambers with twist off caps also exist, but you didn’t hear it from me).

Adding it all up: $10 for the ticket, $3 for the metro, $5 for food, about $5 dollars for gas to and from the metro station, and about $3 for the liquor, for a grand total of $26.

A few minor changes netted a savings of $30, money that can go towards buying a textbook (or rather one third of a textbook, but the point still stands). Just don’t tell the McCourts!

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