I read a City Paper story a couple of months ago called “The Cheap Bastard’s Guide to Baltimore Baseball.” Since I’ll be watching the O’s fireworks night from a nearby rooftop (the ultimate cheap bastard move), I thought I’d share the guide as well as some of my favorite tips to save a few bucks. These tips are Baltimore-specific, but can easily be applied to other ballparks around the country.
1. Get discounted tickets.
If you’re not tied to a specific date or game, look around to see what discounts are available. If you work for a big Baltimore employer, you might find that you can get an employee discount. If you’re going with a large group, call the ticket office and ask for “group sales” (you’ll even get your group’s name on the Jumbotron–oh, the possibilities!). For Ollie’s Bargain Nights on Tuesdays, all Upper Reserve seats are $10 when purchased in advance. And if you’ve still got a valid student ID hanging around, every Friday, you can score Left Field Upper Reserve seats for $7 at the box office.
2. Carpool or call in a favor for parking.
The cost of parking near Camden Yards isn’t that astronomical–you’ll find lots for $8-$10–but you might be able to minimize even that cost. If you know someone who lives near the park, they may have guest parking passes you can use for free. Otherwise, consider carpooling to split the cost.
3. Minimize drink purchases in the park.
I won’t go so far as to say that you should avoid drinking during the game entirely; there’s something about the combination of beer and baseball that’s sacred. But definitely take advantage of the nearby bars (Pickles, of course, but also Sliders, Pratt Street Ale House, etc.) for cheaper drinks than you’ll find in the stadium. I’ve seen Boh tallboys for around $3. Some Federal Hill bars run pre-game specials and offer golf cart rides to the game.
As a rule, I pretty much never buy food in the park. Camden Yards has a really great food-and-drink policy that lets you bring in your own food as well as sealed, nonalcoholic drinks. Freeze a couple water bottles ahead of time and either bring lunch or pick something up from one of the vendors outside Pickles. If you do get hungry inside the ballpark, there’s a concession stand on the upper deck that offers kids’ hotdogs (don’t worry–available to anyone) for $1.50. Just ask any ballpark worker and they’ll direct you.
5. For the love of God, don’t buy any merch.
I am always shocked to see people buying jerseys and T-shirts at Camden Yards when stores like Target, Kohls and Old Navy sell licensed gear for a fraction of the price. I’ve found really cheap stuff on clearance at those stores toward the end of the season. Abby is also all about promo nights, where you’ll get stuff like a Buck Showalter garden gnome or an Orioles trucker hat.
What about you? Any tips for saving at the ballpark?