COMMENTARY | If you're a faithful Boston Red Sox fan but don't have thousands of dollars to spend on tickets, it's important to find some good deals if you ever want to see the inside of Fenway Park. It's a great atmosphere, but at $8 for a beer and $40 to park the car it's not a cheap trip.
Big rival games like those with the New York Yankees will always be extremely expensive. Fortunately, there are some games against smaller-market teams that tend to be a bit cheaper without significantly compromising the quality of the experience.
Here are three value options on the Red Sox's schedule this season for those who don't want to shell out too much cash. Another factor to consider is the weather. April can still feel like winter in New England, and it can be really chilly at night. If you don't mind the cold and possible rain then you can often find a reasonably cheap seat.
1. Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Date: Saturday, April 13, 1:05 p.m.
I know this game is early enough in the season that the weather could be dicey, but I decided to throw it in there for a few reasons. First, it's during the day. The average low temperature at night in April is 41 degrees in Boston, but during the day the average is 56. If it happens to be sunny outside, that would be very pleasant. Second, it's on the weekend. Many people work late during the week and can't get away in time for a 7 p.m. start. Also, for families with children, it's not a school night and you'll be home in the late afternoon anyway. Third, the opponent is the Rays. They are a low-budget team but they have been very competitive in the last few seasons. They have some high-profile players such as Evan Longoria and David Price.
Honestly, I'm surprised that there are currently bleacher seats on the website Stub Hub for as little as $22. If you want outfield grandstand you'd have to pay at least $35 per ticket but this is a good early-season deal, and I think the price will rise in the near future.
2. Boston Red Sox vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Date: Sunday, May 12, 1:35 p.m.
This one is slightly more expensive but still a good value deal. There are currently quite a few bleacher tickets available between $27 and $35 on Stub Hub. While this seems a bit pricey compared to the game against Tampa Bay, it may be worth the money. The Blue Jays are generally considered the favorite to win the division this season after adding several very good players in a major trade with Miami. You would likely get to watch Jose Reyes and Jose Bautista, and would have a chance of seeing one of the Blue Jays' top-level starters such as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
It's another afternoon game on the weekend, and by May 12 the weather could be pretty warm. This is another game where the tickets are likely to go pretty quickly once more fans start thinking about the upcoming season. If you're looking to watch a good opponent for a relatively reasonable price, this might be the way to go.
3. Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers
Date: Tuesday, September 3, 7:10 p.m.
Unlike the first two options, this one is a night game and it's during the week. That being said, it is against the Tigers, a good team that many people think will win the American League Central. At the beginning of September there is a good chance they will be in a competitive division race. One thing that you risk by getting a ticket to this game right now is that the Sox could already be out of contention. Hopefully, that won't be the case, but it's something to keep in mind considering how good their division is this season.
If you're willing to risk it, the weather is likely to still be pretty warm and there are some cheap tickets. There are both bleacher and outfield grandstand seats available for less than $25 and as of right now (they could be gone by the time you're reading this), there are outfield grandstand seats available for $18 apiece on Stub Hub.
Fenway is never going to be a cheap experience, and you can't be sure that the conditions will be good. But if you want a chance to see some games against quality competition for a lower price, these are your best bet. You'll have just enough money left over to buy a couple of those 8-dollar beers.
George M. Helmholtz has been around baseball his whole life. He grew up in the Boston area and spent four years working for the Hyannis Mets and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod baseball league.