Photo of the will call office at Citi Field. Home of the New York Mets.

Image Credit: Peter Bond (CC BY-SA 2.0)

We get this question quite often. While there is some common sense involved, the best practice for buying tickets to professional sporting events depends on which sport you're going to see. 

Major League Baseball

Photo of a baseball fan holding a ticket to a Baltimore Orioles game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Image Credit: Alan Levine

Most of the time, you can get away with purchasing your Major League Baseball tickets at the box office the day of the game. This will vary by team. If you are trying to see teams in high demand such as the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees or Philadelphia Phillies, you need to buy your tickets online ahead of time. Tickets for a weeknight series are very easy to come by as opposed to a weekend series when everyone is off of work. Overall, MLB tickets are the easiest to come by between the four leagues due to the high number of games played (162). For that reason, they're also the cheapest. Have you ever purchased a $5 bleacher seat for an NFL game? Didn't think so.


National Football League

Photo of Chicago Bears tickets laying on a table. 

Image Credit: Jebb - Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Very rarely can you buy your NFL tickets at the stadium for any team. If you're looking for a cheap ticket towards the end of the season, you may be able to purchase your tickets at the box office, but don't count on it. NFL games have the highest demand but also the steepest prices. I do know that fans have luck in purchasing single game tickets the very first day that tickets go on sale for the season. Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers tickets are very hard to purchase in general and those teams have multi-year waiting lists for aspiring season ticket holders. Companies like Ticket Monster will offer tickets to every NFL game, even the Super Bowl so you will be able to see any game as long as you're willing to spend money. The best time to purchase NFL tickets is the day of the game if you're on a budget.  


National Basketball Association

Photo of Washington Wizards tickets. 

Image Credit: Tim Kelley (CC BY-ND 2.0)

NBA tickets are perhaps the second easiest ticket to come by, trailing only Major League Baseball. This is due to not only the high number of games (82) played but also the serious decline in the NBA's popularity. Supply and demand for tickets to an NBA game applies more to players than a team itself. When the Miami Heat are visiting your city, you go to see Lebron and Dwayne Wade, not the Heat. When Michael Jordan retired, the Chicago Bulls attendance plummeted even though the team were still very competitive and talented.

The best way to purchase your NBA tickets is online. Fans often fantasize about having courtside seats at the Staples Center to see the Los Angeles Lakers like actor Jack Nicholson and other celebrities. Don't count on it. However, I do know that you can purchase courtside seats to an Indiana Pacers or Toronto Raptors game for around $350-$400 per ticket every so often.


National Hockey League

Photo of Washington Capitals tickets. 

Image Credit: ArtBrom - Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sure, the NHL may be the least popular of the four professional leagues in the United States, but that doesn't mean that NHL tickets come cheap. Even upper level tickets to a Columbus Blue Jackets game will still run you near $100 per ticket on some nights. You will be able to purchase tickets at the box office for teams such as the Florida Panthers, Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes. However, if you want to see teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, you're going to spend $250+ per ticket for decent seats. Maple Leaf tickets boast an average ticket price of $76 at face value (2011); the highest in the NHL.

Now that we have dissected how to purchase tickets for the four leagues, which online source is the best to purchase from? In the ticket world, there are Stubhub, SeatGeek, Ticketmaster, Craigslist and other online ticket brokers.

Stubhub is a third party website that lists the tickets other fans are trying to get rid of. You purchase the tickets from their marketplace and they charge you a small "convenience charge" upon checking out. That is how Stubhub makes money. The best thing about Stubhub is that the tickets are guaranteed to arrive on time. If your tickets are bought at the last minute, your tickets can either be left at the 'Will Call' booth, printed out from your computer or accessed via the Stubhub app on your smart phone. Sometimes, Stubhub will ask you to pick up your tickets at a specific location near the venue. Craigslist transactions should only be done face to face. Find some tickets you want that are listed for sale and have the owner of the tickets meet you somewhere in the city. Be very wary of Craigslist transactions made via PayPal. There is always the chance that the seller confirms to meet you somewhere but doesn't show up.

Buying tickets on Ebay is a little more complex. Tickets are either listed as an auction or you can use the 'Buy It Now' option. For 'Buy It Now', I like to make an offer on tickets that are out of my price range and often have great results. If you are going to bid on tickets do so on a weekday during business hours. There will be less people online bidding at those times. Be sure to pay close attention to the reputation of the person you are buying from by viewing their previous transactions. If you're a seasoned buyer on Ebay, you should have no issues purchasing tickets. Ebay is slowly dying in terms of event ticket sales and Amazon is considering getting into the ticketing industry.

Finally, there are hundreds of online ticket companies and brokers. There are literally hundreds of these. I have assembled a small directory complete with consumer reviews of the largest and most reputable ticket companies for your purchasing needs here. Our staff has researched and scouted the reputation of all listed companies and all are 100% legit and safe for transactions. Some of the companies will have convenience charges, others will just list the tickets with all of the fees included. We hope all of you find this information very helpful. Feel free to contact us if you happen to have any additional ticket related questions.


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