Review: Costco’s Baseball Ticket Deal

-For $64.99 you get voucher for 2 tickets, 2 hot dogs, and 2 small sodas
-You still have to pay for parking or hitch a ride
-Make sure your voucher can be redeemed on the day you want to go
-Redeem vouchers early for best seats
-The tickets are decent and worth the money (27.7% minimum discount)
-The hot dogs they give you are tiny
-The small sodas are extra small
-Conclusion: if the fine print aligns with your goals, it’s a great deal!

The Review
Costco or, as I like to call them, “price bully” is a paid membership club that provides its members with “wholesale” deals. For the most part, you can’t beat Costco prices. Their gas and banana prices are unbeatable and everything else is extremely competitive on a pound for pound basis. That being said, there are definitely things that aren’t really a steal/deal so you should be careful before you buy things here – eggs, books, and DVDs for example.

One thing that I’ve been interested in was their baseball ticket deals. For $64.99 +tax, you get 2 tickets, 2 hot dogs, and 2 small sodas. Doing a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, you’re paying about $32.50 per person for access to an MLB game that includes a drink and a hot dog. Honestly doesn’t seem too bad given what they charge for food at the park. And if you get a decent seat and find a game with a good giveaway, then it’s looking like a really good deal. So, I looked to see if the deal worked for a Mike Trout bobblehead giveaway, it did; I called around to see if anyone could be my plus one for the game, my mom volunteered as tribute; and I called the box office ahead of time to make sure that date wasn’t sold out, they said I’d be fine.

Upon arriving at the ballpark, the parking was a cost I totally forgot about. Luckily the parking for Angels Stadium is only $10 and not the $35 they charge at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park. You can probably avoid this cost altogether if you can hitch a ride or save some money by taking public transportation. Either way, just remember the time and travel costs when deciding to purchase this deal.

Once you get to the stadium, you have to go to a ticket box office to exchange the voucher Costco gives you for real tickets. One important thing to note here is that you should probably exchange multiple vouchers for multiple dates if you’ve already purchased them. Although the dates you’re allowed to go on are typically not the busiest games, your chances of getting great seats are reduced dramatically as the season progresses.

You get to choose from either Terrace All-Star or Club All-Star seats, both of which are actually pretty decent. The retail single game ticket prices for Terrace All-Star seats range from $42-50 and Club All-Star seats range from $50-60 a piece.  So you are already saving at least 27.7% if you get the cheapest Terrace All-Star seats which have a great view from the field if you can line up with the first or third base. I opted for some Club-All Star seats because I was sold by the “padded” seats and “in-seat service.”

When you exchange your Costco voucher at the box office you will get four tickets: two seat tickets and two food vouchers that you can redeem at the stands that sell hot dogs and sodas. You’ll definitely feel like you’re getting a pretty sweet deal at this point, especially if you get handed a promotional giveaway upon entering the stadium. Now, off to the concession stands to redeem our food vouchers!

This is where things turned needlessly petty for me. The small soda is extremely small, should be called a shot cup soda, and the hot dog is more like a hot deke – I’m personally calling it an emaciated noodle dog. If you didn’t have a meal beforehand, you’ll definitely end up buying more food as you exchange your food vouchers for wartime rations. They literally have a separate bag for the emaciated noodle dogs which makes it pretty obvious the ballpark wants to recoup the discount they gave you on the seats.  It felt like a sucker punch to the wallet as I ordered some nachos, even though I was going to order some anyway. At least I got to make the order from padded seats using the in-seat service.

One interesting thing you may notice if you get to the park early is that the seats in the Costco sections get filled in a very orderly unspaced fashion. You don’t get to choose your seats, only the section, and it seems like the strategy they use is to pack people in like sardines. I talked to the packed guests next to me and they said they usually move around and space out once the game starts going.

My overall conclusion to this deal is that it’s a fair deal, not a steal. If all you care about is a modest discount for decent seats, this deal is for you. This deal is not for someone who wants uncover a hidden treasure trove of bargains. I personally had a great time at the game, the Angels won, I got my nachos, and I took home a Mike Trout bobblehead. However, it’s simply too much prep and planning for too little gain for me to buy into it on a consistent basis. For the next bobblehead giveaway, I got two tickets for $25 with a decent view. Plus, I’ll have a few dollars to spare for some real ballpark food.

Benjamin Shibata is the managing editor of Crooked Scoreboard. He is a Costco member because nobody else will give him a better price for gasoline or bananas – if you do, he’ll join your club and ditch Costco. You should follow him on Twitter.