Attending professional sports on a college budget: NFL

By: Cody Vannoy

Sports Editor

Tickets, parking, food and more are costs to consider when attending a professional sports game. Some may wonder, as a college student is the cost even worth it to go? I have decided to personally test out this theory by attending a professional sports game in order to show you how to get the most bang for your buck. I will share with you my firsthand experience of the entire process of attending a professional Dallas Cowboys football game.

I choose to attend the Dallas Cowboy game on Oct. 3 versus the Carolina Panthers.  I paid $34 for my ticket through an app called SeatGeek. The listing price for the tickets was $22, but there was an additional $12 in fees that bumped up the price to a total of $34 for a standing-room-only ticket.

AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, is located just under 100 miles from Stephenville. The drive took just over three hours, and gas for the trip cost me roughly $20 in my 2015 Toyota Tacoma.

When you arrive at the stadium, do not pay for the closest parking spot you can get, it costs too much, and the traffic is worse the closer you are to the stadium when the game ends. My recommendation is to find a spot that costs $10 or less. This will mean that you will have a walk 10 to 20 minutes to get to the stadium. On this particular day, I was able to find a free parking spot and my walk took about 15 minutes.

Inside look of AT&T Stadium after a Cowboys win.
Photo By: Cody Vannoy

If you want to eat inside the stadium, plan on paying as much as you did for your seat. Not a single food item is cheap, so my recommendation is to eat before you go in the stadium or after the game. You can save money by buying fast food or going to a restaurant instead of buying something inside the stadium. Do not make the mistake I did, where I bought a jumbo Cowboys cheesesteak that cost $22 and a water that cost $5.50.

Another tip is to not sit in the seat you paid for, I bought the cheapest ticket available. My ticket was for standing-room-only. The only problem with that was that there was no standing room available when I arrived at the stadium two hours before the game even began because they were all full.

After walking around the entire stadium for over an hour looking for a place to watch the game, I asked myself this question, “Why don’t I just sit in an unsold ticket seat?”

SeatGeek allows you to look up tickets and seats at any time. I opened the app and found a ticket that I knew was not going to sell and sat in that seat. I could tell it was not going to sell because the price was not dropping as it got closer to game time. The seat was on the top level and cost over $130, nobody in their right mind was going to pay for those seats when tickets on the bottom level were now going for $50. Vendors were lowering the costs of those tickets because it was 15 minutes before game time.

At many sports events, top-level seats do not have an attendant checking for a ticket. If you sit on the first three levels, however, someone checks your tickets. My recommendation is to buy the cheapest ticket available, go inside the stadium and wait until the ticket prices drop if you want a lower-level seat buy those tickets and, if not, enjoy the upper-level seats.

Overall, for the Dallas Cowboys game, I spent a total of $84 on my trip. My day started at 8 a.m. that Sunday and I got back home at 6 p.m. For a total of ten hours, the Cowboys game cost me $8.40 per hour. You can be the judge for yourself; however, I personally believe an NFL game is worth the $84 and if I had not eaten inside the stadium, it would have been even cheaper. Attending an NFL game on a college budget is 100% doable.

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