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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

April 5, 2013 at 4:00 PM

A Cheapskate’s Guide to Mariners baseball

By Bruce Baskin

Bruce Baskin of Chehalis became a sports fan in the late 1960s watching Washington and Seattle University on TV in Seattle. He now covers NCAA basketball five days a week on WRMI , a 50,000-watt shortwave radio station in Miami.

I admit it:  I’m cheap, though I prefer the word “frugal.” I begrudge nobody for living large if they can afford it, but it makes no sense to me to spend more than necessary.

My frugality extends to sports, particularly attending Seattle Mariners games (where the combined average cost for a ticket plus parking is about $45). I’ve created a way to watch a game at Safeco Field for $15, including refreshments.

With Seattle’s home opener coming up on Monday night, here is my “Cheapskate’s Guide to Mariners Baseball,” which involves a four-step process:

STEP 1: Getting tickets

You have to do some sleuthing for the best ticket deals. The “flex” pricing system used for ticket sales means spending more to sit in the same seat to see the Yankees than to watch Houston. The Mariners website lists 34 games where you can get $7 tickets (except for July and August, when prices are raised and cheap seats cost $11). Find the list by clicking the “details” box on the 6-Game Flex Pack page.
By the way, NEVER buy tickets online, where Ticketmaster adds their ubiquitous fees. Buy them at a Mariners team store instead and pay no fees. It’s worth the trip.

STEP 2: Getting food and drink

Ballpark food is expensive and can add up fast. This is what I do instead: Go to a dollar store, spend $4 for four bags of hard candy or gum, then bring them home and apportion them evenly for each of six games I plan to attend this year.
I also spend $2 for two boxes of 10 lemonade and pink lemonade mix pouches. I’ll bring three mix pouches along with an empty 16-20 ounce drink container to each game, then find a water fountain inside and mix the lemonade there. Averaging $1 of candy and drink mix per game, I’m up to $8 in single-game expenses.

STEP 3: Getting there (and back)

Why battle downtown Seattle traffic AND spend $20+ for parking when $5-7 gets you parking, a driver and a shorter walk to the ballpark? Just check Metro or Sound Transit schedules and fares, drive to a Park & Ride lot and let public transit take you to and from a game. Have exact change ready both ways because drivers carry no change. With $7 for a round trip on Sound Transit per game, my cost is now at $15.

STEP 4: Getting players’ names right

Maybe you can tell the players without a scorecard, but most of us can’t. What I do is print rosters off the team websites to take with me. Scorecards inside Safeco are only a buck so they’re not exactly budget-busters, but this Guide IS about spending only $15.

For one ticket, transportation, parking, food, drinks and rosters to see the M’s, I’ve spent $15. At one game per month this season (even two with $11 tickets), $98 covers everything for six games.
Admittedly, this isn’t for everyone. Want to spend more at the ballpark? Go for it. But if you’re on a tight budget, this is the most affordable way to attend a Mariners game, and following just one of my steps will save you money.

See you in the cheap seats.

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