The art of seat-stealing

Sneaking up front at sporting events is an art form for me. Theres a simple secret to my success. Well a few secrets actually. Hopefully this guide can help a few other people lacking in the bank account department find their way up front, with the silver-spoon crowd of jerkoffs who spend tons of money on seats for games they probably aren’t even watching.

The first- alcohol. I’m not talking just a few beers before a game, I’m talking put on a clinic at the tailgate and drink your body weight. You need to be drunk enough you’d slam a fat chick with no regards, either sexually or through a table cause your friends would find it funny. No questions asked, forgot your name, constant state of needing to piss, drunk. This will come in handy for a few different scenarios during the sneaky-seat stealing game. You need to be in a state where you don’t feel shame, nor do you feel fear. Two of the risks that come with moving up to where you don’t belong. 

The second key, the most important- confidence. A major problem I see when people sneak up to better seats is the look of fear in their eyes and a constant need to look over their shoulder. Is the person who rightfully belongs in those seats going to come and call you out on your bullshit? Sure, probably. But so what? What’s the worst that happens? You have a 10 second moment of embarrassment in front of a small crowd of people? And don’t give me that “its not a small crowd, its 30,000+ people watching”. It’s not. 29,900 of those people aren’t paying attention to you or your row, they don’t give a shit. Not to mention, chances are some of the other people around you don’t belong in those seats either. The ones who do see? Your actual seats are probably so far away, you won’t have to see those fuckers ever again.

Getting down to the front sections does take some stealth, this usually being the hardest part. Confidence here is vital. First try, tell the security guard your seats are down front and your friend has them. Chances of this working aren’t that good though, unless you really sell it. Another is just the obvious sneak in, when the guards not watching. Tough to do, but smooth sailing if it works. You can also hope for a large crowd to shuffle in, join in with them, and hope nobody calls you out. This works quite well for me more often than not. Many concerts have been enjoyed in the front rows because I saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. You can also use the “can I just run down and take a picture up close because my actual seats suck?” routine, and then once down there, book it to the nearest open seats and don’t look back. 

Also, When walking down to the seats, you need to put on a show and pretend those are actually your seats. You need to have the look of someone who doesn’t have to debate whether they can afford that second $11 hot dog. Those empty seats in row 4? Those are yours buddy. You bought them. Make sure to pretend to look at your ticket too. This is important. Look at your ticket, then the row section. Give your buddy a quick “oh these are them!” to let others around you know that you belong. It says so on that golden piece of paper your holding in your hand. Does it really say “Row Z seat 20-21, obstructed view”? Yeah, most likely. But not out loud, not to those strangers, not today, Satan. 

Once you’ve found your ass in its throne fit for a king, enjoy the game. Watch the game. Take in the views. Do not sit in a constant state of worry. Whats the point then? If you’re going to sneak down, make sure you make the most of it. The asshole who paid for the seats, those jerkoffs aren’t even there. They don’t care enough to watch the early parts of a game, so fuck them. I’ve found more often than not, they don’t show. Its a weird thing about the expensive seats, but a lot of times its true. The rich sons-of-bitches who bought the seats don’t come to the game. Or the seats weren’t sold. Check stubhub beforehand. See which expensive ass seats are still for sale for 1,200 bucks. Those won’t be sold and chances are the prick who can afford them will have to eat that money. They don’t care. They wipe their asses with aluminum foil just cause they can. It doesn’t feel good, but that’s the price of being in the 1% baby. 

Lets say these rich folk show, now what? Well there’s 3 options here. Say few words, stand up, take that walk of shame back to the nosebleeds. That’s the most common response. The second most common, look at your tickets, pretend you made a mistake, and then act like you’re going to your seats but in reality hightail it out of there. That’s a waste. My go-to? Apologize, be up front and say you know you don’t belong, you just wanted a taste of the high life, and then use your peripherals to scope out some other open seats. People respect honesty. Even if your lying ways are what got you down there to begin with. You’re already down there, you’ve surpassed security, why not hang on as long as you can? I recently went to Pittsburgh to see a Penguins game. My tickets? Standing room-only. My seats? About ten rows back from the glass. We were caught multiple times by people who’s seats we had taken, but we held onto our spot up front, and moved around the section, never being forced to go to the lowly area that is standing room-only. We enjoyed the entire game, feet away from the ice. 

A problem that occurs quite often, especially because of the first step, (getting blackout drunk), is the need to take a piss. This can be a make or break moment for most. You can’t hold it though, so you gotta do what ya gotta do. Walk up to the bathroom, make sure the attendant sees you. Maybe say something quick, small talk about the game, or, the almost fail-safe, say you don’t know where your ticket is, again use your confidence and pretend to check your pockets, and say you’re running to the bathroom, you’ll be right back. This works, believe it or not. I went to a concert at MSG recently, went up front row, literally, row 1. Had to piss out about 12 bottles worth of bud light. I walked out, stopped at the security guard, told him me and my buddy would be right back but we left our tickets with our friends. He nodded in approval and we went to piss. When we came back, there was now a new guard at the gate. Does one cower in fear, lick his wounds, and return to the last row of the stadium where he should be? No, I attempted to walk in like I knew where I was going. He stopped me, said he wanted to see the tickets. You know who saved me? The first guard I saw on the way out, he told the other guy I was good, and I was on my way. Top 5 moment for me in the seat-stealing game, in all honesty. Unfortunately, once back up front, I was called out by the security guard in the front row, asking to see my ticket. Not the ending I wanted, but there’s few ways around that final boss that is the douche who wants to see your tickets. 

Shortly before losing our front row seats at Dierks Bentley 

Also important, once you’ve attained the golden standard you deserve of the front row, make friends with the people around you. For those who aren’t the most outgoing, this is another time being shitfaced might help. Loosen the lips and be the life of the front row. If people like you, they might back you up to keep you with them. They also won’t shame you if you get caught, hell they might try to find you other seats nearby. You need to cater to this audience. Often when I am up front at baseball games, I find it’s easy to get balls from the players, or ball boys. Don’t be greedy. If you get one, great. Keep that first sucker, cause if you get caught, at least you have that memento. If you get two, dish out your good fortune to those around you. If theres a kid nearby, give it to them. People will see this, think you’re not a seat-stealing drunken scumbag, and be OK with you once they find out you are.

A few years ago at an Indians game, I snuck down to the front row of the third base side, right next to the ball boy. We got to talking, he knew I didn’t belong, but he didn’t care. He gave me some souvenir balls, and I tossed em out to the kids. The people ate it up, and I enjoyed the entire game from those seats.

The crowning moment is this past summer, I went to 3 straight Indians games. All 3 games, I spent in the same seats, in the front row of the first base side. Legit, same seats. Nobody called me out on it, I had no qualms about being there, and it was a helluva time. I called out to Sandy Alomar Jr on night one, who came over, took a picture with me, yelled at me for screaming at him while he was trying to coach, and told me not to drink too much that night (too late, Sandy). By the third game, Sandy came out and handed me a signed ball in between innings. Today he follows me on instagram. None of that would’ve been possible, had it not been for me sticking to my tried and true strategy of seat-stealing.  

3 days in a row watching Sandy from feet away

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