Say what you will about “tradition” and “academic excellence”—one of the greatest reasons to attend the University of Toronto is the location. Toronto is the only city in Canada (and one of only fourteen in North America) to feature a team from all of the big four sports: baseball, hockey, basketball, and football. Perhaps that last statement was exaggerated; Toronto technically has three teams from the four major professional sports: the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Bills, plus the Maple Leafs. The St. George campus is located close to all of the major stadiums. University of Toronto sports fans, especially those that hail from a city outside of Toronto, have the opportunity to see a game live and up close. The problem is that major league teams do not offer discounts to students on a minor league budget. But just because tickets are not priced appropriately does not mean that students should give up trying to see a game this year. Here are some tips for students trying to obtain cheap tickets. U of T students should be able to take themselves out to a ballgame without being taken for all of their money.
Toronto Blue Jays
It looks like the Blue Jays are going to miss the playoffs for the fifteenth consecutive season. Yet this does not mean that tickets are discounted at the end of the season. In fact, September visits by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are classified as super premium games, (as opposed to regular premium games), and each ticket costs more than a game against any other opponent. This is understandable, as Red Sox and Yankees fans usually make the trek to the Rogers Centre and fill the seats. But if you’re looking for value in September, you should try the series against the Orioles on September 16th to 18th. These tickets are classified as regular games and are significantly cheaper and easier to obtain than their premium counterparts. Also, students should not underestimate the appeal of seeing two teams that are out of the playoffs. In these cases, the Jays offer more specials, and batting practice is sparsely attended. Plus, the possibility of scoring a ball or an autograph is greater, and there is plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the game. Games against lower ranked teams are always great opportunities to bring a large group of friends and be able to sit together.If you still want to see the Red Sox and Yankees on the cheap, there are a number of possible strategies. Even during sold-out games, you can get tickets simply by showing up to the stadium. Ticket holders who cannot attend the game will stand outside the Rogers Centre offering their unused tickets to fans in need. Another strategy is to search craigslist. Corporate sponsors, who get free or cheap tickets, use the site to sell their seats way below face value. Plus, someone may have bought tickets to the game and then realized that they cannot make it. Happy hunting, but watch out for the scams.When the Jays return next April, they’ll offer a promotion called “Toonie Tuesdays” where tickets cost a mere $2. This promotion could be discontinued because of rowdy fans and drunkenness, so if you managed to score cheap tickets, celebrate by quietly rejoicing.
For a team that has not found much post-season success, Raptors seats are surprisingly difficult to come by. Single game tickets can easily run into the three digits for unspectacular views. For this reason, try to take advantage of team-run promotions. Most seats in the Air Canada Centre offer decent views of the action. The worst place to see a game is in the box seats, which are located somewhere in the sky. For Raptors fans on a budget, I offer three possibly unknown bits of wisdom:
For whatever reason, the Raptors tend to attract a lot of fans on the outskirts of Toronto, in places like Maple and Woodbridge. Perhaps you can find someone with an extra ticket from these places and you can offer them access to a bed or parking space downtown.
Basketball, as opposed to other sports, has every team play against every other team each year. As such, the Raptors play relatively few games against the Celtics and Knicks. Teams from the West often have less of a local fan base than teams from the East. Forget the highly overrated Lakers and Suns, and focus on acquiring seats to see the Portland Trailblazers, the L.A. Clippers, or the brand new Oklahoma City Thunder. One of those teams could surprise, and you’ll have paid a lot less than it cost to see the 76ers or Nets.
The Raptors are the only team in the NBA to play (almost) every Sunday, and mainly at 1 p.m. This can work to a cheap fan’s advantage. I imagine that some ticket holders like to stay up late on Saturdays and the early bird catches the worm.
Check out next Thursday’s paper to find out how to score tickets to Toronto hockey, football, and soccer games.