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Tickets for tokens: The quest for a summer of Midwest sports for $100 or less

loose change stadiumsCuts are being made all over the place.

In offices and factories, with budgets and loans, and to the hearts of many Americans who are struggling to pay their utility bills, let alone find extra cash to have some fun.

This is a juncture in our country’s history where resourcefulness is at a premium and people are looking for cheap pick-me-ups more than ever.

Lucky for area sports fans, I’ve found a summer solution that is easy on the pocketbook, full of adventure and requires only an Internet connection.

I decided to budget myself $100 to go to professional and college sporting events from now until the middle of September, while going no further than Columbus or Indianapolis.

With online resources such as,, Ebay and Craigslist it’s basically a “Google-me-a-ticket” world, where the nimble fingered take charge.

With this I want to prove that having a good time doesn’t always mean sending your savings account to Haddes  and I also want to remind you of just how many great sporting venues we have within a three-and-a-half hour ride.

Here is my itinerary for a fantastically sportarific summer. Feel free to hop on board.

July 7: Louisville Bats at Toledo Mudhens Price: $9
Location: Lower level behind bullpen
Source: Mudhen’s box office

There’s no better way to keep tabs on up-and-coming Tigers than to hit up gorgeous Fifth Third Field in downtown Toledo. And the way things are going this year you may even get a chance to see the likes of a Dontrelle Willis, Clete Thomas or Marcus Thames. Although the way things are going, watching Willis pitch is kind of like watching your dog get hit by a a car.

July 11: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers
Price: $10 for two
Location: Right field grandstand
Source: StubHub

This is possibly the steal of the bunch. At just five bucks a pop for lower level tickets close to concessions and restrooms you can’t go wrong. That’s why I’m grabbing two of these. My wife isn’t a sports fan, although I’m working on it. But she loves getting a good tan and likes hanging out with me, or at least she pretends to.

July 18: Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew (MLS soccer)
Price: $10 for two
Location: Upper sidelines
Source: Ebay

The Americans beat Spain, oh my word! American soccer is soaring to new heights…..wrong. There’s a reason you can get a pair of tickets to the best soccer in America for the same price as a medium pizza. I personally appreciate some quality fútbol though, and I’ll take my grandpa in Columbus with me to guarantee a good time.

July 19: Syracuse Chiefs at Columbus Clippers
Price: $10
Location: Lower level, third base
Source: Clippers’ box office

If I’m going to travel to Columbus, why do a hit-and-run? Instead I’ll check out some more Triple-A action, with the Yankees farm team playing host. Plus I am a Brighton High School alum and still fondly remember Drew Henson striking out three times a game for this club.

August 7: Charlotte Knights at Indianapolis Indians
Price: $10 for two
Location: Box seats
Source: Craigslist

After taking a few weeks off and resigning to my couch and big-screen for my sports fix I’m back on the road.
More International League Triple-A ball is my fancy. I was able to find a season ticket holder on Craigslist who apparently could find better things to do with his money than watch baseball. I can’t. That’s why I’m taking my old college roomy who lives in Indianapolis out for a night on the town.

August 15: Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions (Preseason)
Price: $8
Location: Lower level end zone

I know it’s the preseason, and believe me, I know it’s the Detroit Dandelions, but still it’s NFL football for $8 with a good view to boot. I’m headed here to get a first-person perspective on the QB battle and to get autographs before the players start getting hated on and return the favor to the so-called “fans.”

August 19: Seattle Mariners at Detroit Tigers
Price: $8
Location: Lower level bleachers
Source: StubHub

Seeing Ken Griffey Jr. and his tantalizingly beautiful follow-through at the plate is worth the price of admission by itself. Plus in the middle of August Ichiro may appear more as a mirage than a person on the base paths and in centerfield in the smoldering heat. One Tigers game a summer is the equivalent of watching only the first in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Once you’ve got a taste you surely must go back for more. Thus, here I come Comerica.

September 5: Toledo at Purdue football
Price: $6
Location: Home end zone
Source: StubHub

Marching bands, tailgating, warpaint and Big Ten action all for the cost of doing a load at the local laundromat? Toledo took advantage of a Wolverine tailspin in 2008 to pull a major stunner, and the Boilermakers are a team who graduated its starting quarterback, top two receivers and all-purpose yardage leader from a year ago. I’m not predicting anything, but for six bucks I’ll take a chance that Toledo could provide a wild and crazy time in West Lafayette.

September 12: Central Michigan at Michigan State football
Price: $18
Location: Visitors end zone
Source: StubHub

With $29 still to spare I decided to splurge. For less than $20 I’m treating myself to a more intriguing contest then most people realize. The Chippewas are lead by Hesiman trophy candidate Dan Lefevour at QB and like it or not Wolverine fans, the Spartans are the state’s most talented team in 2009. Given that I’m an NMU alum maybe I’ll even give Tom Izzo a call and trade stories about jumping off dorm roofs into the snow.

There you have it, $89 for nine sporting events, three with friends. With the extra $11 I can buy a foam finger, splurge on the super ultimate supremely stale ballpark nachos, complete with discolored olives, or just stash it away for next summer.

To keep costs at a bare minimum I recommend eating ramen noodles or hitting up bagel shops just before close, driving a friend’s Smart Car or hitchhiking, and finding family members or even friends of friends to stay with.

Obviously my having your best interests at heart stopped with the ticket recommendations, but you get the point — a little legwork can go a long ways, and if you lay off the $10 brewskies and aren’t a prima-donna who requires luxury suites stocked with 12 types of sausage, you can do a lot of living without a lot of spending.


About rjwalters

I am what you think I am — a journalist. Actually when I was hired at my current job, which by the way is Sports Editor of the Hillsdale Daily News in Hillsdale, Mich., I applied for a position titled "Wordsmith", so at my best I'll call myself a writer attempting to be a wordsmith extraordinaire.


One thought on “Tickets for tokens: The quest for a summer of Midwest sports for $100 or less

  1. I like this idea. Did you factor in gas prices though?

    Posted by Jack | June 27, 2009, 1:57 am

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