Above: My ticketed seat for the Women’s National Championship game. Below: My seat for 3/4 of the game.Sporting events are a lot of fun, but the good seats aren’t very friendly for the college student’s budget.  I recently attended some NCAA Tournament basketball games, I frequent NBA matchups, and love heading to the ballpark for summer baseball.  Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the years to help you get closer to the action.

Scout Ahead

You’re setting yourself up for failure if you’re roaming the arena’s lower bowl willy-nilly.  Start out at your ticketed seats in the upper decks, and start plotting your upgrade from this perch.  Find a few sets of seats you might want, and keep your eye on them.  If nobody has touched them about a quarter-way through the game, it’s pretty unlikely anybody is going to.  You should be able to scope these out with the naked eye in most basketball arenas, but football and baseball stadiums might require a pair of cheap binoculars.  

Once you have your seats picked out and the section number memorized, figure out your point of entry.  Look at the three closest entrances to the section.  If you can see the ushers from your vantage point, watch them for a minute and see if any of them aren’t really checking tickets; that’s your insertion point.  If you can’t see the ushers from your seat, you’ll need to do this reconnaissance work in the concourse.

Safety in Numbers

The best time to sneak past the usher is during a period break or timeout.  The concourse will be full of people grabbing beers and hitting the bathroom, and it won’t be hard to convince the usher that you’re one of them.  This is also a great time to grab a snack. That way, it looks like you got out of your seat to grab some food, and aren’t trying to sneak down from the 600-level.  

In Case of Emergency

In all honesty most ushers probably won’t care half an hour or so after the game starts, especially if you aren’t acting all suspicious with your cap pulled down over your eyes staring at the ground when you walk past.  If you do get stopped though, hope isn’t lost.  Try telling the usher that your friend has all the group’s tickets in her purse, and she just went to the bathroom.  If you still get turned away (which would really be shocking), well then you can try the next tunnel down.  Worst case scenario; you have to go back to your seats.  There really isn’t a good reason not to give this a try at your next game.

Have any other stadium hacks?  Ever scored something really impressive like a courtside seat?  Let us know in the comments.