How to Get the Best Seats for Your Budget

by | Apr 16, 2018 | NBA, News, Pete Dowell

I’ve visited quite a few major sports venues in the past few years.  I’ve even become a season ticket holder with a NBA franchise, the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. At this point I’m everyone’s go to guy when it comes to finding a deal on sporting event tickets. This article is meant to share some answers to commonly asked questions about finding deals to sporting events.

Question 1: How can I get free seats?

Answer: Whether it be a friend, organization or contest someone will have to give you tickets. There are no consistent ways to get tickets for nothing.

Many major sports franchises give away the worst nosebleed seats to schools, charitable organizations, radio shows, and season ticket holders to try and fill up the arena on slow nights. Some companies purchase cheap seats and offer tickets as gifts for trying out their products.

For example, one of your local car dealerships might advertise giving two free seats if you test drive a car.

I have been given two free nosebleed seats as a thank you gift multiple times during my time as a NBA franchise season ticket holder. I always give the seats away to someone who could use the free seats.

Free Seats Night Email from Charlotte Hornets

Free Seats Night Email from Charlotte Hornets, Photo Courtesy of Pete Dowell, Stadium Journey

Question 2: How can I get good seats on the cheap and where is the best place to get the tickets?

Answer: Consistently reputable aftermarket ticket sellers like will save you lots of money in some cases.

Many season ticket holders don’t go to every game and will sell their tickets for much less than what they paid on week nights because most people can’t attend every game during week nights. Non-holiday week nights are great times to buy normally high-priced seats. Couple a non-holiday week night game with a less than awesome visiting team and many season ticket holders are willing to take less than half of what they paid in order to not have a total loss for the night.  Be sure to wait until the day before or day of a game to purchase your seats. The closer some season ticket holders get to game time without a sale the less the price may be.

For example, you want to see the Boston Celtics play on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and the Charlotte Hornets (not one of the best teams in the league) is visiting. You will find tickets that are below what the seller paid even with the fees of aftermarket ticket sellers.

I found a Wednesday Celtics game against the Hornets. A week before the game I started watching the listings on my favorite aftermarket ticket seller. After watching a few days the price was lowered and I paid $85 to sit five rows from the court.

Row 5 Seats at TD Garden

Row 5 Seats at TD Garden, Photo by Pete Dowell, Stadium Journey

Question 3: How do you afford to go to the big marquee matchup games and sit in the premium areas?

Answer: Purchase your seats for the big game you want to see from the major sports organization’s ticket seller at the day and time the team releases tickets.

Season ticket holders already have the rights to seats during the playoffs and the best marquee matchup nights. Many season ticket holders sell the best games at giant markups in order to pay for most if not all of their season ticket fees. Some people/companies will purchase the tickets from the teams when tickets are released at base rate and sell the tickets at an incredible markup to make a profit. While some good deals can be found on aftermarket seller sites for the best games of the season, the most consistent way to get the lowest priced big game seats is to be ready to purchase your seats from the major sports teams’ ticket vendor at the exact time that the tickets are released to the public for sale.

For example, you want to see the Cleveland Cavaliers play in a round 1 playoff game. You would have to search the team’s website and see how and when they will be releasing the tickets to the public for purchase and try to purchase the moment the tickets become available for the best seats at affordable prices.

I joined the Cavaliers Wine & Gold Nation fan club and opted in for the one hour presale of playoff tickets. The presale tickets for me were released for purchase one hour after Cavs season ticket holders were able to purchase extra playoff tickets and one hour before the general public had access to the tickets. I purchased two seats in the premium Gold Center Straight Section 108, Row 3 for $410 per seat. After reviewing a few reputable aftermarket seller sites for comparable seats I’ve found that the seats being listed by season ticket holders and other private sellers that are similar to my seats will be $500 or more per seat plus taxes and fees.

Go out into the ticketing world with your new knowledge and find the best seats for your budget.


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