Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Cheap Seats for Sports

My boys and I are avid sports fans, especially of the Miami Heat. We've found a frugal way to see sporting events. Our cheap seat strategies are also applicable to other cities.

A frugal way to see The Heat play is to buy a $10 ticket. That price buys a ''standing-only'' ticket at the top of the AmericanAirlines Arena. Dwyane Wade's dunks and Alonzo Mourning's awesome blocks look especially spectacular from the upper reaches. And the stadium offers large screens for close-up replays of hot scoring runs.

For our latest outing, which included a few school friends, we purchased a block of nine $10 tickets to a Dec. 27 game between The Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks several hours before tipoff. That advanced planning saved the day because by game time, all of the affordable seats were gone and the remaining seats started at $260 apiece.

Ticket Exchange

Miami Heat also operates a ''ticketExchange'' in which season ticket holders sell their individual season tickets -- cheaper than comparable nonseason ticket prices -- for no more than $1 over the face value of the season ticket. The resale program, run through Ticketmaster, is subject to Ticketmaster fees. For more information, go to

Even Cheaper Seats

There are other affordable options. Sports bars, lounges and do-it-yourself game parties offer a frugal way to enjoy the game with the full benefit of public camaraderie. When the Heat played the Lakers, my oldest son and I watched that heated Shaq-versus-Kobe competition at a sports lounge/pool hall on Lincoln Road, which offered indoor and outdoor screens and lots of atmosphere. And there's always the radio, a valid option in my cable-free home.

Free Radio

Quite frankly, listening to The Miami Heat games on the radio is one of the greatest pleasures that I share with my children. It's free and the listening process enhances attention skills and sparks the imagination. What's more, if they want pictures, my boys can scan the headlines and the captions in the newspaper the next day, which provides a hidden exercise in reading.


But if you're really desperate for tickets, a local radio station -- broadcasting live from the front of the arena -- typically offers free tickets to fans who show up before the game in the craziest Miami Heat gear, accessories or team colors. On the night of the Heat versus Bucks game, a quartet of dancing girls in abbreviated Miami Heat outfits with pompons earned tickets for their imitation of Miami Heat cheerleaders.

The Florida lottery has its own contest for free tickets. Fans -- 18 and older -- who show up at the arena with five nonwinning Florida lottery tickets and crazy Miami Heat-themed outfits can win free tickets to a game subject to availability.

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