Nosebleeds or Bust: Is it Worth Sitting in the Cheap Seats?
The upper balcony, the nosebleed level, the cheap seats — we’ve all contemplated buying these tickets for a big game or concert at some point. Maybe it’s because you waited until the last minute to buy tickets, or maybe it’s because your budgetary restrictions are driving your decision. But now you’re faced with the prospect of sitting in seats that might force you to brush away low-hanging clouds.
So do you go for the nosebleed seats just to get in the door? Is it worth it to sit way up high, tucked under the rafters? The answer really depends on what your tolerance level is for sitting away from the action, what exactly you’re going to see, and maybe even who you’re going with. But often, the cheap seats can be an economical way to have a great time at an event.
Let’s try to answer the question “Is it worth it to sit in the nosebleeds?” for a few specific scenarios.
Concerts: Worth It
If you’re trying to get in to see one of your favorite artists, but the only seat options are up in the balcony or way back on the lawn, I say go for it. The main reason is modern equipment. Most major acts today bring along a sound system that can penetrate even the farthest corners of the stadium, and that’s often coupled with large video monitors that allow you to see the performance up-close, no matter where you’re sitting.
Sure, it’s not the same experience as pressing up against the stage and being in range of a tossed guitar pick or drumstick, but it’s still an awesome time because of the great gear that today’s performers use.
There are even times I prefer the cheap seats. A few years back, when the legendary heavy metal band Iron Maiden returned to the U.S. on tour, I knew I had to be there—and if I was going, I figured I’d pay a little extra to get closer to the stage. It was a good plan, except for the fact that Maiden had turned the volume up to the proverbial “11.”
After a couple songs, I retreated to the venue’s lawn area, where the sound was absolutely perfect and the video boards kept me connected to the show. In fact, when I get my tickets for Maiden’s “Book of Souls” tour this year, I’m saving my time and money and going right for the lawn seats!
Sporting Events: Worth It
Your favorite team is in the big game, and tickets are hard to come by. Do you pull the trigger on your only option, sitting way up in the 300 or 400 level? I say yes, because you still get to be part of the in-stadium experience, and that’s such a huge part of sporting events.
Back in 2001, I had seats in the last row of the upper deck of the old Foxboro Stadium for what turned out to be an overtime win by the Patriots over the Chargers. These seats were in such a strange corner of the stadium that we couldn’t even see a scoreboard as the Patriots chipped away and tied the game at the end of regulation. Mobile Internet being what it was in 2001, all of us in the section were relying on each other to make sure we had the score right and were really seeing what we were seeing.
It turned out to be the first of many comeback wins for Tom Brady, and the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl that season. My point is, it’s one of the great sporting-event memories I have, even though it was probably also the worst seat I’ve ever sat in. Get into the venue for the game. You never know what you might see.
Theater Performances: Probably Not Worth It
Here’s where I’m going to diverge a bit. For theater performances, I’m kind of picky about where I sit, and I’m not sure the way-back seats are always a great option.
Unlike a concert, you’re not usually going to have the aid of video monitors for a play, so you don’t want to end up so far back that you can’t really see what’s happening on the stage. Also, you’re not going to be interacting with others in the crowd. The whole in-house experience takes place on the stage, so I’m not sure there’s any real value in just getting in the door if you’re too far away to appreciate the show.
For me, there’s a sweet spot for theater performances, right in the middle—not so close that the stage presents an odd viewing angle, and not too far away that you feel like you’re missing out.
Here are a few other quick tips for finding just the tickets you need:
- Look to resellers. If you’ve got a specific type of seat you’re looking for, it can be helpful to work with a ticket reseller. And they often have a little bit of everything, so you can find “nosebleed” seats for a sold-out show or game and get into the arena for a decent price.
- Think about the needs of your group. Are you going to a concert with friends who want to see every string plucked by the bassist, or are you taking in a game with a group that’s going to be talking and enjoying the day no matter where you sit? Don’t overpay if you think you’ll be just as happy in the bleachers as the box seats.
- Try last-minute shopping. Don’t give up until the very end! Quite often, venues release extra tickets just a day or two ahead of an event, so you might find just what you’re looking for. Even for a sold-out show, there might be some budget-friendly tickets that open up at the last minute. With a little luck, you’re in the door with enough money left in your pocket to buy a souvenir or two.