The Cheapest Things in Sports
Sports enrich the lives of millions of fans in countless different ways. The teams we love give us something to watch, a reason to cheer and an excuse to get together with friends and family on a regular basis to enjoy something that unites so many of us.
They give us all that and we, in turn, give them our hard-earned dollars. As we all know, being a sports fan doesn’t come cheap. Tickets are expensive—some to the point of being cost prohibitive—cable is expensive, fan gear is expensive and memorabilia can be really expensive.
With all that ever-growing expense, it’s nice to know there are still some things in sports that won’t set you back an arm and a leg. Or an arm and both legs. In fact, there’s a handful of stuff out there that’s downright cheap.
Then again, when it comes to money, everything’s relative. So keep in mind the cheapest things in sports aren’t necessarily cheap in the ramen sense of the word, but instead are less costly—sometimes substantially so—than comparable events or items.
That being said, here are the cheapest things in sports.
Atlanta Braves $1 Ticket Special
The Atlanta Braves had a $1 ticket special before every game in 2013, which was applicable to the first 186 fans to purchase their tickets no earlier than 2.5 hours before the first pitch.
Not bad for a team that is at least competitive each season.
Cleveland Browns Tickets
The average price of your average NFL ticket varies greatly across the league. The New York Jets are actually the most expensive at $118, while the Cleveland Browns are the least costly at just $54 per ticket.
What the Browns miss in ticket revenue, they apparently make up in hot dog revenue. They’ve got the cheapest tickets in the league and the most expensive dogs, which will set you back $6 apiece.
Along with the Carolina Panthers, the Browns also boast some of the cheapest beer in the NFL. In Cleveland, a brew is actually $1 cheaper than the cost of a hot dog. No wonder that organization is so dysfunctional.
Blaine Gabbert Jerseys
This one feels a little mean, but it’s important to remember it’s not our fault Blaine Gabbert, the former first-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is wretchedly bad at football.
Gabbert may or may not be on his way out of Jacksonville, but he certainly doesn’t seem likely to start there again. Which is why his jerseys are very discounted on NFLShop.com—a site not known for bargain shopping.
They can be found even cheaper pretty much everywhere else.
The overwhelmingly vast majority of baseball and other various sports cards aren’t the least bit valuable to collectors or for the purpose of resale, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still worth collecting.
For sports fans looking for a budget-friendly hobby, it doesn’t get much more budget friendly than this. A box of 500 Topps baseball cards sells for as little as $13.50 online, which is about ¢2 per card.
Tickets to Undesirable Olympic Events
Tickets to Olympic events can easily exceed $1,000 for the most popular events, particularly at the Summer Games. Of course we all know that for every hockey or figure skating event at the upcoming Sochi Olympics, there are five less desirable events for spectators.
The cheapest tickets are priced at a very affordable 500 rubles, or about $15. So if you want to see team curling, the biathlon, ice dancing and the like, you certainly can. Assuming you can afford the $4,000 plane ticket to Russia.
Dez Braynt (For Now)
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant was signed to a five-year deal worth just under $12 million in 2010. His salary has increased steadily each season since then, along with his production.
Bryant has matured a lot in the last 18 months and is considered by most (except people that seem to have a very personal problem with him) to be easily a top-10 receiver in the league; perhaps top five on his best days.
The Cowboys are probably feeling pretty good about taking a chance on Bryant, who turned 25 last November, because he’s set to make just $1.5 million and $1.7 million over the next two seasons.
Columbus Blue Jackets Franchise
If you’re looking to buy a sports franchise on a budget, the NHL is the place to look. There’s only one team in the league worth over a billion dollars, although the top 15 teams are worth $400 million and up.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the least valuable franchise in the league, with their current value estimated at $175 million. They may very well be the least valuable franchise in professional sports and they have the attendance to prove it.
Packers Gear at Lambeau Field
According to Forbes, Green Bay Packers caps for sale at Lambeau Field are the cheapest in the NFL at just $15. No word on how much those awesomely ridiculous cheese head hats will set you back.
The most expensive ball caps are more than double the price at $32 each and are sold by none other than the…New Orleans Saints! And here you probably thought it was going to be the Cowboys.
A Thuzio Experience with John Rocker
Thuzio is the Tiki Barber venture which allows athletes from across the sports world to set their going rate to interact with fans or corporate parties in a variety of ways. Experiences with the likes of Gary Payton or Lawrence Taylor will set you back tens of thousands of dollars.
But there are also a lot of bargain basement athletes, like former Braves pitcher John “SPEAK ENGLISH!” Rocker. A (bad) experience with Rocker starts at just $99 and goes up modestly from there—all but two of them are comfortably under $1,000.
When it comes to the NFL, “cheap” is a relative term. Of the 32 franchises in the league, 23 of them are worth over a billion dollars. According to Forbes, currently the least valuable team in the NFL is the Oakland Raiders, valued at $825 million.
Also “cheap” in Oakland is the average premium ticket price—nothing in the nosebleeds or those awkward corner seats. The average premium Raiders ticket is $140, quite the deal compared to the $567 price of New England Patriots tickets.
The Raiders are the lowest in the NFL for premium seats, while the Patriots are the highest.
Minor League Baseball Games
This one really varies depending on the location and the level of the team, but generally speaking, there are few—if any—sporting events where you’ll get more for your money than at a minor league baseball game.
In 2010 the average cost for a family of four to see a game was $57—that includes the price of two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, a program and parking! That’s just amazing.
Phoenix Coyotes Tickets
Beer at a Carolina Panthers Game
Last fall TeamMarketing.com broke down the cost per ounce of beer at all 32 NFL stadiums. Somehow the Detroit Lions get away with charging the most in the country at ¢67 per ounce.
The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, come in 40 percent lower than that at ¢27 cents per ounce. And the Panthers made the playoffs last season.
Milwaukee Brewers $1 Tickets
In 2013 the Milwaukee Brewers had $1 tickets available to fans for every home game of the season, excluding Opening Day. Meaning there is absolutely no excuse for any empty seats!
Parking at an Arizona Cardinals Game
There are many stadiums in the country at which the price of parking rivals, and in some case exceeds, the cost of admission to the game.
It’ll costs $75 just to park your ride at a Dallas Cowboys game—the most expensive in the NFL. Arizona Cardinals fans only have to pony up $10.
Sports Illustrated Subscription
This one may sound a little crazy if you’re of the generation that came after the print media began it’s slow descent into the proverbial toilet, but generations of people before you are more familiar with non-digital versions of books and magazines.
Personally, I still really enjoy reading on something that doesn’t require a battery. Someone got me a subscription to Sports Illustrated for Christmas and it’s only ¢65 sense an issue ($39 for 60 issues) and comes with a couple of free gifts.
Not every issue is a winner, but it’s great always having something to read on the Metro.
Alex Rodriguez Shirts
Embattled Yankees (for now) slugger Alex Rodriguez is pretty much the most hated person (who hasn’t committed a serious felony) in sports right now. He’s currently living in lawsuit city, attempting to fight the season-long suspension that will keep him out through 2015.
Which is why it should come as no surprise that A-Rod gear is now deeply discounted. Prices for officially licensed team gear have been cut by as much as 50 percent, while less official gear is going for under $10 on various other sites.
You can also get recently retired Roy Halladay gear at a pretty impressive discount.
Richard Sherman (For Now)
Considering the season had by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, the obvious front-runner NFL Defensive Player of the Year, it’s absolutely stunning his four-year contract pays him an average salary of $555,606.
That kind of money is obviously nothing to sneeze at, but it’s not even on the same planet as other top players in the league at their position. The Chiefs' Brandon Flowers and the Bears' Charles Tillman are both making over $6 million more a year than Sherman.
Then, of course, you’ve got the overrated, underproducing and overpaid Darrelle Revis. The Buccaneers have got him locked down through 2018 for the bargain basement price of $13 million per season. Wow.
Charlotte Bobcats Season Tickets
Hopefully fortunes have improved for the Charlotte Bobcats since 2012, which is when they considered selling season ticket packages for as low as $43. That $1 per game cost would’ve been determined by their place in the draft lottery.
After losing the lottery they seemed to have scrapped that idea in favor of a BOGO deal. Fans that bought season tickets at regular price—which are as low as $6.55 per game—got next year’s tickets free of charge.
So Bobcats fans could’ve gone to 82 straight home games for the low low price of $3.23.
Cincinnati Reds $1 Hot Dogs
Hot dogs at baseball stadiums are one of the most ridiculous inflated food items in the world. Seriously—where do the New York Mets get off charging $6.25 for a meat log? Haven’t those fans suffered enough?
Well, the Cincinnati Reds are the one team in MLB that still recognizes the value of a dollar and a hot dog. A dog at the Great American Ball Park will set you back just $1—so you can stuff your face with them all day long.
Jim Harbaugh's Pants
San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is well known for two things: Taking his team to the NFC Championship in each of his first three seasons as coach and…his wardrobe…or lack of wardrobe, as the case may be.
During the NFL season Harbaugh has been wearing the same black shirt and khaki pants damn near every day for the last three years. Harbaugh may wear this getup year-round, but I can't verify that for certain.
And it was no surprise to learn those front pleated pants cost just $8 at Walmart. Frankly, I think he’s getting ripped off.