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Take me out to the ball game: saving on a trip to the ballpark

Ah, spring. Flowers are blooming, leaves are lush and green and the smell of mowed lawns permeates the air. And of course...it's baseball season! America's pastime is perfect for seeing games live and in person, spending the day at the ballpark with friends and family. But it can also take quite a toll on your wallet. So I've got some tips on how to save on your favorite major league teams as well as considering a less expensive option - your local minor league team. Emails are your friends

Sign up for local deals from sites like Groupon, Living Social, Amazon, Plum District, etc. One of my favorites is Goldstar which offers discount events in cities across the country and often includes steep savings (often 50% off or more!) on both Yankees and Mets games here in New York (insert appropriate trash-talking joke here). This site sends a daily email listing (or you can get emails less frequently) and will even notify you if certain new dates open up. I've used it often and swear by it. A lot of their deals are last minute, so if you have flexibility, this site can be a treasure trove. Plus their packages range from cheaper seats to more exclusive VIP options, so they've got something for every budget and experience.

Make it minor

If even discounted major league games are too rich for your blood (and with a family of 4 or more, who can blame you?), why not check out your local minor league team. Most cities offer tickets starting

around $10 and you'll get much better seats. Chances are your kids can actually catch a foul ball, or get close enough to the field to make the attempt. Plus, while you may live far from the closest MLB stadium, most minor league stadiums are in smaller towns and cities, making it more accessible. In fact, there are about 3-4 times as many minor league teams than major league teams, so chances are, there's one near you. And since they aren't likely to be that popular, securing tickets is probably much easier.

Pack a lunch

If the tickets don't get you in the wallet, the concession most certainly will. Markups at major league stadiums are insane, but most allow you to bring your own food. This typically excludes alcohol, bottles and cans, but a small soft cooler with sandwiches and chips should be permitted. If you have any doubt, check your stadium's website which always has an FAQ on what you can bring to the ballpark. Bringing your own snacks can save you loads of cash and might open up the option to come back for another game.

Smart shopper

It's easy to get caught up when you walk past stands of memorabilia, hats, jerseys, pennants, etc. But items in the ballpark can almost always be found much cheaper at a local sporting goods store (Modell's, Sports Authority), mass market retailers (Target, Walmart) or even online. If you know your child might want something, try and purchase it before you go to the game so you aren't guilted into that $40 teddy bear.

What's your method of saving on a trip to the ballpark?

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