To find a ticket bargain, Los Angeles sports fans need to be patient
February 13, 2009
Doing research and waiting to buy can help you get the best price.
Avid sports fan Tony Pena of Pasadena waits and waits until the price is right for tickets. When he wants to see an upcoming game, he scours two local ticket broker websites daily. "The closer to a game, they're more desperate to sell," said Pena, 27.
And he's right. At a recent Clippers home game, Pena sat in section 301 for about 85% off the regular price because he waited until 4 p.m., about three hours before tipoff, to buy it from a local broker, Barry's Tickets. The reward: a $48 seat for $7.
In today's economy, couldn't we all adopt some of Pena's thinking?
With four major pro teams and two college basketball teams in season, and baseball on the way, finding the cheapest sports tickets in the Los Angeles area is an art. But a survey of some veteran ticket buyers offered some tips.
Fans should accept one reality with the NBA's best team: Any ticket will cost a pretty penny. If you don't sit near the rafters, be prepared to pay from $200 on up. Buying seats from the team's official seller, Ticketmaster, will be hard, as the best seats were snatched up months ago. But it's worth a look. As an alternative, try FanSnap.com, which compiles tickets prices from a multitude of websites. For an upcoming Lakers game against the New Orleans Hornets, FanSnap directed a search to well-known ticket reseller StubHub for a seat in mid-level section 216 for a relative bargain of $154, including charges. Discount ticket site Goldstar.com also had some VIP suite tickets for next month's Lakers-Timberwolves game for $117 apiece, including service fees, compared to the original $175 price. Some fans swear by online classifieds site Craigslist, but it's often spotty on selection.
Generally, buying tickets directly from the team will be more expensive. So avoid Ticketmaster and check with a local ticket broker or Craigslist. Clippers fans, realizing their tickets have lost value, sell at a big discount. Or in some cases, ticket brokers, who often buy tickets far in advance are forced to dump tickets at considerable bargains. At a recent Clippers-Lakers game, musicalchairstickets.com marked down dozens of surplus tickets between 40% and 50%. And for the Clippers-Celtics game here Feb. 25, there were some tickets discounted by more than 25% on Goldstar.
One of the best ways to score a deal on a Kings game is through the team's promotions. Recently, the team unloaded selected tickets for President's Day at 44% off, including a good seat in the 200's-section of Staples Center for about $35. Or if you're a college student, you can score $20 seats in the same area. For families, there's a deal pack that includes food and parking, if you buy at least four seats.
For a wider selection of seats and prices, it's best to stick with these two particular ticket broker websites: BarrysTickets.com and RazorGator.com. You can pay as low as $15.40 (RazorGator) for a seat in the upper sections of the Honda Center or as little as $99 (Barrys Tickets) for a spot neat the visitor's bench.
Ticket pricing in college basketball works somewhat differently, thanks to season-ticket holders, donors and students. If you don't have a connection, rely on a large aggregate website like FanSnap, which draws on a large selection of season-ticket resales and nosebleed seats. For a spot near the floor, be prepared to pay at least in the low $100s. Ticketmaster's resale website, TicketExchange, is also worth a look. For me, Craigslist proved unreliable.
What applies to UCLA also works here, but Trojans hoops tickets are generally cheaper. Season-ticket holders and donors have the best seats in the arena at a premium. USC, however, uses StubHub as a reseller, which FanSnap also searches.
Dodgers and Angels
Because the baseball season hasn't started, finding the cheapest ticket is tricky. If Manny Ramirez returns, the Dodgers may be a hotter ticket. If the Angels tear through their division, then demand may soar. If you're in no hurry to go on opening day, it's best to wait until the initial craze is over, say, in May. Then, if one of the teams tanks, look on Craigslist, the local ticket brokers or StubHub, the league's official reseller. If the team is having a successful year, try their website.