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How to save on food and drinks at your next sports match or concert

By Vaseline May30,2024
How to save on food and drinks at your next sports match or concert

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When Dianne Debarros and Tom Stitzel went to a Toronto Blue Jays game last month, the couple thought dining at the Rogers Center wouldn’t be cheap.

With meter-long hot dogs priced at around $13 and 515ml premium beers priced at almost $15, the duo from Sarnia, Ont. behind the ↕coupon.couple account to look for ways to save.

One of their friends had two words: Dugout Deals.

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The aptly named concession stand at sections 240 and 537 sells baseball favorites for a fraction of the price. Before taxes, “value” hot dogs, popcorn and 16-ounce soft drinks cost $3.49 each, while a 12-oz. Bud Light costs $5.79, the Blue Jays website says.

“If you got a hot dog and just a pop, it would be less than $7,” Debarros said. “That’s great compared to $30 at some other stands.”

Doing research like Debarros did is just one of the ways she and other sports fans, festival-goers and concertgoers say Canadians can save as the summer event season gets underway and people face eye-watering prizes.

AtVenu, a point-of-sale technology company, says the average fan in Canada and the U.S. spent $68 on food and drinks at festivals last year, compared to $65 in 2022. The company found that food prices increased by 21 percent have increased. average, and drinks increased by between seven and 20 percent, depending on size and alcohol content.

But many event goers say there are ways to reduce costs.

For starters, some locations, including the Rogers Centre, allow you to bring food and drinks, although these often have to be non-alcoholic and packaged in something other than glass or metal.

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“Some let you bring water as long as you have it in a bottle with a tamper-evident cap, so I try to take advantage of those little loopholes,” says Jordann Kaye, a Halifax-based personal finance writer.

Many locations also allow people to pass through security with clear and empty bottles that can be refilled for free at on-site water fountains.

If you want to buy food or drinks at a location, Kaye recommends looking carefully at the prices.

“Draft beer is usually cheaper than, say, mixed drinks or trying to get red or white wine, but not by much. It is quite expensive,” she said.

“I usually choose beer because it’s more filling and takes longer to drink, so I end up buying less.”

Ordering from stands in a stadium can also save you money, as some venues charge more for in-seat service and many tip drink vendors roam the aisles with full coolers, Kaye said.

Promotions can also be a way to save.

For example, Rogers Center sells $1 hot dogs some nights and the BC Lions football team had a $5 menu last season with beer, nachos, popcorn and hot dogs.

At the Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Calgary Flames hockey team plays, there was a happy hour last season that started an hour and a half before game time and ended 30 minutes before puck drop. During that time, the team’s website says it sold 14-oz. draft, 1-oz. highball and 6-oz. wine, cheeseburgers, pizza slices and hot dogs for $6 each.

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If your location doesn’t have promotions, Debarros recommends that people consider “bottomless” or refillable drinks or popcorn that can be shared with friends or family and refilled regularly to please everyone.

To keep costs down, Kaye recommends people think about what they want to eat or drink before attending an event.

“Then you’re not hit with all the options once you get to the counter and it’s usually very busy so you feel pressured to order quickly and you may end up spending more money than you intended,” said she. .

To avoid feeling tempted to spend money when she doesn’t plan to, she eats before going to an event, even if that means eating at an inconvenient time.

“Snacks don’t look that appealing when you’re already full,” she reasons.

When she drives to an event, she also packs snacks like granola bars in her car to cushion the post-show or game munchies and avoid spending money on the way home.

To account for those munchies and possible times when she’ll eat at a location, she looks at her calendar every month and makes note of upcoming events.

She then wonders whether she will buy food at the event or have a meal or drinks with friends before or after the event. If she plans to eat out, she builds that into her entertainment budget.

“If you regularly meet friends for drinks after work, maybe skip that for a week or two so you have some extra money for these memorable events,” Kaye said.

“Then you can just enjoy it without feeling guilty because you spent more than you intended.”

– with files from John Chidley-Hill in Toronto

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2024.

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