That’s the Ticket! For a Holiday Gift!

Sports for the Holidays

Sports for the Holidays

You’ve had eleven and a half months to find the perfect gift for that perfect guy in your life, but alas, the clock is ticking and it still hasn’t hit you.

This might come as a surprise to you, but many guys, including your dad, brother or significant other, really dig sports, so why not get them tickets to one of the hottest sporting events of the year, also known as a gift they’ll never forget, also known as you’re the one who answers to Santa Claus from now on…

The folks at The Ticket Experience, an award-winning company that has been featured on ESPN and CNBC specializing in sports, concerts and theatre tickets all over the nation has one simple goal: to help you find the perfect tickets while still (hopefully) meeting your budget. And this isn’t their first rodeo either. This group of friendly experts is seasoned in helping people with absolutely no understanding of sporting events buy tickets to those hardcore and extreme fans coming to the table knowing exactly what they want. Rest assured they will walk you through the process and help you determine the best seats and games to meet your budget, all wrapped up with one tidy and fancy bow.

Use this quick guide, with information and tips from Ignacio Cubero and Patrick Ryan, the business partners behind The Ticket Experience, to make sure you get the best possible seats and prices. Getting the bang for your buck is what it’s all about this holiday season. Well, that and it’s the whole thought that counts thing…

“The Ticket Experience enables you to buy with confidence. If you buy tickets and have a question or feel like you’re going to be stuck with them or your needs change, we’re willing to work with people,” Ryan says of the business model. “We’re a mom and pop business that started with my business partner’s mom and I working out of my home and now we’re fortunate enough to have a number of employees and a nice office, but we know where our roots are from. We take every order very seriously and while we have the technology and website that looks complicated, the people behind it are very simple and easy to work with,” he says.

“If someone’s buying tickets as a gift, there are a couple things they need to figure out. First, are they buying tickets for a loved one because they want to see the home team or the away team? That will help narrow down the focus and of course the other thing will be budget,” Cubero starts.

That's the ticket - to the perfect holiday gift!

That’s the ticket – to the perfect holiday gift!

Ryan used the back-to-back NBA Champs, the Miami Heat as an example in determining if there’s a specific team you want to see or just be a part of the sport you love. “If you know they are a big Heat fan, lets find them the best Heat tickets for their budget, but if their love for teams is a bit spread out and they prefer a lower level ticket, we can stretch the budget out a little more and have some flexibility. Getting those parameters first will help narrow down the focus and opportunities from there,” he says.

For some sports fans, they just want in the arena, but for others, they want to be so close, they can hear everything the team is saying to each other.

“Personally, I’d want the best seat possible, regardless of the opponent, so that would drive a lot of the decision for me because it’s fun to sit in the upper deck for a rowdy game given the exciting atmosphere, but the view isn’t as good as TV, so I’d rather go to a Wednesday night game against a non-marquee team. Look at a market like Houston, you could probably sit within ten rows of the visiting teams bench as the same price as an upper deck center for the Miami Heat, so as a fan of basketball the sport, I’d rather sit really close to the bench, even if it isn’t that great of a matchup,” he says.

And let me pause here – if you’re already confused or your palms are sweaty trying to decipher this information by yourself, the team at The Ticket Experience can walk you through all of it like they do with many of their customers. In fact, you can even email them directly at a VIP address (mail to: email to start narrowing it down.

The Ticket Experience is what’s known as a secondary ticket market, simply meaning you’re buying a ticket that’s already been transacted once. It’s a lot like StubHub, a service you may already be familiar with, but with much more flexible and mom-and-pop shop type options, from people who know many arenas and stadiums like the back of their hand.

One of the things sites like StubHub lack is personal service and answers to some pretty vital questions. As Cubero and Ryan put it, “there’s no such thing as a dumb question.” I asked them to give me a few examples of things they may not see on a site like StubHub or where their expertise in so many stadiums/arenas can come in handy for a buyer like you and I.

“A common one is the numbering and lettering of rows. In some venues, the double letters like AA, BB come first, like they do in the Palace of Auburn Hills, and some of those seats include access to a complimentary buffet, but in the PNC Arena where the Carolina Hurricanes play, the double letters are actually in the back,” Ryan says. “A venue map is often times two-dimensional and doesn’t explain all the benefits of seating options, so that’s not an unfair question to ask. Things like, ‘are there any perks’ or ‘are there sections that include easier access to a bar or all you can eat buffets,’ etc. or some sort of lounge area,” Cubero chimes in. “Having an expert give you that information helps a lot, especially when you’re going after the experience,” he says.

Something else that isn’t always labeled on seating charts – where the team benches are located. That’s a huge plus for a big basketball fan that wants a close-up shot of Dirk Nowitzki.

Another tip from Cubero and Ryan, especially when using sites like Google or StubHub is not to shop just based on price. “Don’t just shop on price because one ticket is $200 and one a couple rows back is $170. On StubHub for example, the prices you see are what the person selling that ticket wants, it does not necessarily mean the seat is better. It’s not a completely logical market, to be honest,” Ryan says.

Other things The Ticket Experience can help you with is determining if there are sections you’d want to sit in or avoid. “In Houston, they have the Red Rowdies, a diverse fan group where fans audition by showing a ton of spirit and chosen to receive free tickets all season in that section. The section is loud and fun – they have drums and they go all out into characters. If I was going with kids who wanted to be loud, that’d be a great section, but if I was going to entertain clients, I’d absolutely not want to be near that,” Ryan laughs. Knowing where those sections are is helpful it seems. If you’re in a low row by the team tunnel, there’s a chance you’ll get a high-five or a wristband from your favorite player, but having the inside knowledge on where those seats are can be tricky. That’s what makes for a fun experience.

Another example Cubero points out when finding tickets in the “perfect” section is knowing where the no alcohol sections are in certain NFL stadiums. Imagine being with a huge bachelor party for a Broncos game and ending up in the only section that doesn’t serve or allow alcohol? Football and beer is a good thing, and that could certainly prevent the experience you’re going for.

“Sometimes stuff like that isn’t always clearly laid out but we can help people navigate that,” Cubero says.

An important thing to note about the secondary market, and companies like The Ticket Experience, is that the price fluctuates a lot, based on demand. “If you’re looking at a winter sport such as basketball or hockey, March can get really hot because teams are in a playoff hunt, so all the games have that dramatic feel to them, so prices can shoot up. There’s also the downside that if a team is out of the playoffs come March and they are tanking, prices will have gone down,” Ryan explains.

“If there is a must-see game, I think it’s more important to lock something in that you’re comfortable with, and not worry about it and understand you got a good deal. It’s a volatile market; it can go up and down. The Rockets market could collapse if James Harden and Dwight Howard got hurt, so that’s one of the things we try to help people understand. If you’re buying early, you’re buying piece of mind,” he says.

Another important note when buying from the secondary market is that the face value printed on the ticket isn’t always accurate. So don’t freak out if you paid a little more. Here’s a short example of how it works in some markets, according to Ryan. “Some teams are assigning averages to ticket prices, so a Friday night game against the Lakers may go for well over the $55 value printed on the ticket, for instance you might pay $105, but a Tuesday against the Bobcats you can probably score for $25, in the secondary market. Remember, you are paying market demand. In our business 70% of the tickets we sell are sold for below ‘face value,’ he points out.

Like many reputable businesses, The Ticket Experience makes their money off repeat customers, so feel at ease when reaching out to them asking questions or purchasing tickets. Their entire business model is based around making sure the fan, no matter of what team, has a great experience, tells their friends, and hopefully comes back for more (in that order).

With all the different markets, different opponents, different playoff races, and more “there’s no stupid question when it comes to ticketing,” Ryan reminds me. And believe me, I tried him on that, and it became crystal clear after our talk that there are so many variables when buying tickets and his team is ready to explain all the scenarios, etc. when purchasing.

For questions, email – and remember, there are no dumb questions, at least not when it comes to buying tickets… so get ready to be everyone’s favorite Santa Claus this season.

This piece originally ran on under The Blonde Side’s column. Click here to see the original piece.