Just because the economy's hit the skids doesn't mean you have to give up (all of) your favorite things. If you do a little sleuthing and stay flexible on which teams to follow, you can still enjoy all the excitement of live sporting events. (For more tips on now to save money without sacrificing fun, see Save Without Sacrifice.)

NFL, NBA and NHL Teams You Can Afford to Love
We used the Team Marketing Report's Fan Cost Index (FCI), which calculates the cost for a fan to watch a given team compete. The FCI adds up the cost of:

  • Four tickets (two adults and two children)
  • Six small drinks (four soft drinks and two beers)
  • Four hot dogs
  • Two programs
  • Two adult-sized caps
  • Parking

NFL: The Frugal Field of Play
The NFL is one of the most expensive sports to watch if you hope to catch a game in person. However, if you're willing to make some loyalty concessions, there are relative bargains to be had in every region.

  • Northeast: Buffalo Bills a Bargain
    If you're a Patriots fan you've had a lot to cheer about for the past few years. But all of that success comes at a price. A steep price ... increase, that is. The New England Patriots are the most expensive NFL team to watch live (FCI of $596.25) and team owners have upped the cost by more than 22% in just one year. For a bargain, you're going to have to switch allegiances and root for the Buffalo Bills, the least expensive pro football team in the region with an FCI of only $298.96.

  • Southeast: Jaguar Jackpot
    Florida is home to both the most expensive and least expensive NFL teams to watch in this region. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the priciest team in the sunshine state to watch live (FCI of $483.02), while their nearby NFL cousins - the Jacksonville Jaguars - are the least expensive with an FCI of $302.09.

  • Midwest: Da Bears No Match for Cleveland
    If you're a fan of "Da Bears" you better have a lot of money in "da bank". That's because the Chicago Bears are the most expensive NFL ticket in the region (FCI of $484.31). The Cleveland Browns can't take pride in a Super Bowl win (they've never made it to the game), but they can take pride in being the least expensive team to watch in the region with an FCI of $323.66.

  • West: Chargers Charging High Prices
    The ocean, the mountains, perfect temperatures year-round ... San Diego's got it all - including the priciest football tickets. The San Diego Chargers top the list for most expensive NFL team to follow in the West (FCI of $436.06); but hop in a car and head due east and you can find the region's least-expensive team - the Arizona Cardinals (FCI of $356.61).

NBA: Slam-Dunk Deals
After Kobe's convincing NBA Finals win for the Los Angeles Lakers, who isn't looking forward to next season? But you might want to check the ticket prices before whipping out your credit card.

  • Northeast: Skip Madison Avenue
    While the New York Knicks haven't garnered an NBA title in more than 30 years, they have earned the title of most expensive team to watch in the Northeast (FCI of $420.04). If you want to experience NBA action without paying Madison Avenue prices, take 95 South and watch the Washington Wizards work their on-court magic for half the price (FCI of $203.56).

  • Southeast: "The Heat" Is Too Hot to Handle
    Miami is hot … hot for basketball, apparently. The Miami Heat is the Southeast's most expensive team to watch ($352.250) but the more laid back Memphis Grizzlies charge their fans nearly $200 less (FCI of $182.94).

  • Midwest: Chi-Town Cha-Ching!
    Michael Jordan's legacy still lives on in Chi-town and the team continues to capitalize on it by charging fans the most in the region to see a live game (FCI of $344.50). Their chillier neighbors to the north, the Minnesota Timberwolves, charge a much friendlier FCI of $230.04

  • West: Jazz Playing It Cool
    With home game fans like Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio in attendance, the Los Angeles Lakers can get by with charging their fans the biggest ticket price in the region(FCI of $479.48). Perhaps the Utah Jazz is hoping that by charging their fans the least to see a live game (FCI of $252.60), they'll generate enough good karma to finally win the big one.

NHL: Hot Teams with Cool Prices

  • Northeast: Sabres' Season Savings
    The Boston Bruins are the most expensive NHL team to follow in the northeast (FCI of $352.60). However, the Buffalo Sabres have been recognized by ESPN Magazine for having the NHL's second lowest-cover charge for match fees, with a FCI of $222.72.

  • Southeast: No Frugal in Florida
    The Florida Panthers haven't won a Stanley Cup yet, but somehow still charge the most for home team tickets (FCI of $309.44); the Carolina Hurricanes, however, have one Stanley Cup under their belt and charge considerably less for fans to come cheer them on. (FCI of $219.52)

  • Midwest: Minnesota Leaves Fans Out in the Cold
    Minnesota's got the right weather for a high-ranking NHL team, but their ticket and paraphernalia prices leave their fans out in the cold. The Minnesota Wild has the highest FCI of $338.12. Luckily, the warmer climes of St. Louis make for friendlier ticket prices - the St. Louis Blues have the most affordable prices, with a region-winning FCI of only $193.26.

  • West: Kings' Prices a Little Too Steep
    Like their NBA counterparts, the Los Angeles Kings charge their fans the most to attend a home game (FCI of $281.31). Unfortunately, you're not going to save that much by rooting for the cheapest team in the league: the Phoenix Coyotes (FCI of $221.80).

Tough economic times don't mean you have to give up doing what you enjoy; you just need to flex your creative muscles - and be flexible about which teams you root for. And who knows, if you take up rooting for an up-and-coming, college or junior team, in a few years, you may be able to say you watched some of the biggest names in sports before they were stars.

Related Articles
  1. Stock Analysis

    Investors Need to Stop Shorting GoPro. Here's Why

    Discover why investors should stop shorting GoPro. GoPro has been one of the fastest-growing companies since 2005 with many betting against more growth.
  2. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  3. Chart Advisor

    Stocks to Short...When the Dust Settles

    Four short trades to consider, but not quite yet. Let the dust settle and wait for a pullback to resistance for a higher probability trade.
  4. Technical Indicators

    Using Moving Averages To Trade The Volatility Index (VIX)

    VIX moving averages smooth out the natural choppiness of the indicator, letting traders and market timers access reliable sentiment and volatility data.
  5. Investing News

    The Brief: Where Is the Bottom?

    Where is the market going today after yesterday's bumpy ride?
  6. Stock Analysis

    3 Reasons to Short Monster Beverage

    Learn why, despite the popular perception of Monster Beverage as a high-growth stock, investors may be better off taking a short position on it.
  7. Professionals

    Tips for Helping Clients Though Market Corrections

    When the stock market sees a steep drop, clients are bound to get anxious. Here are some tips for talking them off the ledge.
  8. Investing

    Finding Value in the Selloff Rubble

    Globally and in the United States, stocks are now in correction mode, with the recent erosion in equities in emerging markets and Europe in a bear market.
  9. Investing Basics

    6 Smart Strategies to Invest Your Extra Cash Now

    The world's stock markets are shaky, to say the least. Should you hold onto your cash or bargain hunt?
  10. Professionals

    Holding Out for Capital Gains Could Be a Mistake

    Holding stocks for the sole purpose of avoiding short-term capital gains taxes may be a mistake, especially if all the signs say get out.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. Hole-In-One Insurance

    A product that offers financial protection to golf tournament ...
  3. Bear Closing

    Purchasing a security, currency, or commodity in order to close ...
  4. Linked Transfer Account

    Accounts held by an individual at a financial institution that ...
  5. Crowded Short

    A trade on the short side with an overwhelmingly large number ...
  6. Maximum Drawdown (MDD)

    The maximum loss from a peak to a trough of a portfolio, before ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How can I hedge my portfolio to protect from a decline in the food and beverage sector?

    The food and beverage sector exhibits greater volatility than the broader market and tends to suffer larger-than-average ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How attractive is the food and beverage sector for a growth investor?

    The food and beverage sector is attractive for a growth investor. The sector's high degree of volatility means it tends to ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What techniques are most useful for hedging exposure to the insurance sector?

    Investing style determines the best hedging techniques for the insurance sector. This sector comprises three segments, two ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the formula for calculating the receivables turnover ratio?

    To calculate a company's accounts receivable turnover ratio, start with the net receivable sales for a given time period, ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!