8 Ways Football Fans Can Save Money

October 6, 2011

Being a diehard football fan is an expensive undertaking. Ticket prices, astronomical concession costs, parking, tailgating, and TV packages can all add up to thousands of dollars every year. For some, football is “the” thing their family does every year so the spending is just part of the annual budget. But are there any ways you can save money without sacrificing your football fandom for the season?

How to Save on Football Costs
Saving money on your football fan experience doesn’t have to put a damper on the season. Sometimes you have to cut back, but you can also get creative to lower your costs.

Save Money on Tickets

If you want to see every home game and sit in the same seat every time, you are out of luck when it comes to saving money. Tickets are usually the item that takes the biggest chunk of your football costs, so any savings here can go a long way. Buying season tickets is expensive and many universities require a donation on top of the face value of the tickets. If you aren’t flexible, you can’t save.

But if you aren’t that picky, consider the following:

1) Splitting Season Tickets with a Friend and Go Together. Season tickets come in pairs. You can split the cost of the tickets (and the donation) with a friend and still get to go to every game.

2) Splitting Season Tickets with a Friend and Pick Games. If you each want to bring someone, you could buy season tickets with a friend and split up which games you get to go to. Make sure you even things out so both sides get to go to at least one of the “big games” of the year. You only get to be in the stadium for half of the home games, but you lower you costs significantly.

3) Buy Season Tickets, Sell a Big Game. If you buy season tickets before the season you can sell one of the “big games” that is likely to be sold out before the season. Every season hope springs eternal, and if a big rival is coming into town you can easily sell tickets for 300-500% more than their face value. You miss out on the rivalry game, but the proceeds from the sale can wipe out the cost of the added donation and even give you some games for free.

4) Buy from Scalpers. This is frowned on in many communities, but there is always a group of scalpers selling tickets around the stadium before the game. The closer kickoff time comes, the more negotiating leverage you have with the scalper. It does him no good to be holding tickets during the game, so you can get some great deals if you are willing to wait. This strategy carries some risk because the tickets might be fake or you might not get the best seats, but if everything works out they can be a great deal.

5) Save Money on Concessions

Concession prices are ridiculous. A soda that would cost you $0.50 at home is $5.00 at the game. The prices are set across the entire stadium, so you can negotiate a lower price. The only true way to save on concessions is either to not purchase them (good luck with that) or to sneak in your own drinks and snacks. Be forewarned: many stadiums search your belongings and your person to make sure you don’t bring in alcohol or weapons, so if you get caught you have to throw away what you were going to sneak in.

6) Save Money on Parking

Universities and professional teams alike know that parking close to the stadium can generate significant revenues. Your parking pass could easily add $150 to the cost of a season. The easiest way to save money on parking is to elect to park somewhere nearby for free and simply walk to the stadium. You are trading convenience for cost. If you still want to park close (for convenience or tailgating purposes), carpooling with other friends can help split up the cost of the parking pass.

7) Save Money on Tailgating

There are varying levels of tailgating. There is “having a few drinks and throwing around a football” tailgating, and there is “I spent my life savings on a massive truck or RV, satellite service, big screen TV, and generator, plus I spend $500 every week on food and alcohol” tailgating. Where you fall on this spectrum determines your costs. You don’t have to go all out, and you can share costs with your friends to bring down your costs. Plus, if you are going to have a crazy setup with satellite service, you probably aren’t physically going inside the stadium to watch the game. You’re their to tailgate.

8 ) Save Money on TV Packages and Pay Per View

If you can’t make it to every game you can always buy a TV package that provides access to your team’s games throughout the season. Saving on this cost isn’t easy because your cable or satellite provider usually has a fixed price. However, you could split the cost of the package with friends and have them over every game during the season. This works especially well if you live far from your team and the odds of making it to the actual stadium are slim.

The same holds true for Pay Per View games even if you live in the same city as your team. Some college games get pushed to PPV because your team isn’t really playing anyone significant. The media companies don’t think they can sell enough advertising and draw enough eyeballs to the game, so it goes to Pay Per View. PPV costs vary based on cable/satellite provider and area you live in, but you might be forced to spend over $100 just to watch the game. Don’t fork out that cash alone, invite some friends over and split the cost.


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Kevin Mulligan is a debt reduction champion with a passion for teaching people how to budget and stay out of debt. He's building a personal finance freelance writing career and has written for RothIRA.com, Discover Bank, ING Direct, and many others.

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3 Responses to 8 Ways Football Fans Can Save Money

  • Lynn D.

    I’ll never go to another football game again. The ticket prices are ridiculous and only hell-bound fools will pay these prices. Unfortunately, the world is full of these fools.

  • Jeffrey Trull

    #3 is my favorite. That way you get to go to several games and can offset the cost of the whole thing. I don’t want to go to every game in the season, so this seems like the best option.


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