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Moneyball; Plenty of baseball bargains are on deck, even as the season winds down

Summer may be unofficially entering the late innings, but there's still time to get to the ballpark to catch a game, as well as a bargain.

Buffalo has a few professional baseball teams nearby. The Buffalo Bisons, Batavia Muckdogs and Jamestown Jammers each wrap up their regular seasons in early September, while the Toronto Blue Jays' regular season goes until late September.

Tickets for minor league games tend to be especially cheap. "We think our prices are as affordable as people can imagine," said John Pogorzelski, the Jammers' sales and operations manager.

Here's a look at some budget-friendly ways to take in a game:

>Buffalo Bisons

The Bisons are the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets, and play at Coca-Cola Field in downtown Buffalo, which has 18,000 seats. Tickets for Bisons games typically run from $8.50 to $11.50. The general admission rate for kids 14 and under and seniors 60 and older is $5.50. (Children 3 and under are admitted free as long as they do not occupy a seat.) AAA of Western and Central New York members can save $1 per ticket.

"We always think of ourselves as the best sports and family entertainment value in Western New York," said Brad Bisbing, the Bisons' director of public relations.

Some ticket prices are a bit higher for Friday games, which are followed by fireworks. But there is a special deal for this Friday's "Live United Family Night," supporting United Way of Buffalo & Erie County. To buy $8 seats for that game, call 716-846-2040.

Other deals are also available. For Monday games, including tonight's at 7:05 p.m., the Bisons charge $7 per ticket, and ice cream and popcorn are just $1 at those games.

For Tuesday games, bring a Kraft Singles wrapper and it's good for a buy one, get one free ticket deal. Bring a honey purchase receipt to the stadium for a Wednesday game, and it's good for a buy one, get one free ticket. (More such deals are listed on the Bisons' website.)

Another way to save money is through a "Family 4-Pack" for $56. The package includes four reserved tickets, four hot dogs and four Coca-Cola drinks and 25 percent off at the Batters Box gift shop.

On Sept. 1, Fan Appreciation Night, a special four-pack sells for $61, consisting of four tickets, four hot dogs, four Cokes and one Bisons T-shirt, a savings of up to $22.

Fans can bring small packaged food items into Coca-Cola Field, but cans, bottles, plastic containers, boxes or coolers are not permitted.

Parking prices vary at lots and ramps near the stadium. You can also find a free parking spot farther away and ride Metro Rail for free above ground to a stop close to the ballpark.

The Bisons have nine regular season home games left this season, including tonight's.

>Batavia Muckdogs

The Muckdogs, a Single-A level team, have a memorable nickname and play in Dwyer Stadium, a little less than an hour's drive from Buffalo. They are affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals and won the New York-Penn League title in 2008.

Adults ages 14 to 59 pay $6.50 for general admission tickets to Muckdogs games, and $7.50 for box seats. For kids ages 13 and under and adults 60 and older, general admission seats are $5.50 and box seats are $7.50.

"I feel in general we're one of the most affordable options out there," said Travis Sick, the Muckdogs' general manager, comparing the price to the cost of a day at a theme park or the movies.

Other ticket discounts are also available. At Monday games, bring in a coupon from Saturday's Batavia Daily News and receive $1 off up to four general admission tickets. On Tuesdays, a Kraft Singles wrapper is good for a buy one, get one free ticket deal at the box office.

And on Wednesdays, the Muckdogs offer a "Family 4-Pack," which includes four general admission tickets, four hot dogs, four sodas and a program for $30.

For just $1, kids ages 4 to 14 can sign up for the Muckdogs' "Knot Hole Gang Kids' Club," which offers discounts for certain games. (Sign-up details are on the Muckdogs' website.)

Knot Hole Gang home games are Sunday through Wednesday (seven of those remain on the regular-season schedule). Members pay only $2 per ticket for those games, and parents and guardians of members get a $1 off the price of their own tickets when they come along.

New York-Penn League rules forbid fans from bringing outside food or drinks into the stadium, but parking at Dwyer Stadium is free. The Muckdogs have 11 regular-season home games left, including one on Saturday.

>Jamestown Jammers

The Jammers and the Bisons have something in common: their ownership. Both teams are part of Rich Baseball Operations.

The Jammers are a Single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins, and play in 3,000-seat Russell E. Diethrick Jr. Park, about a 90-minute drive from Buffalo. The team used to be the Niagara Falls Rapids.

The Jammers' prices allow a family to have a fun night out in the summer without spending much money on tickets or concessions, said Pogorzelski, the sales and operations manager.

"I think it's the best kind of entertainment around the region," he said.

Adults pay $5 for general admission, $6 for grandstand seats and $7 for club seats at Jammers games. Kids under 12 and seniors 65 and older pay $4.50, $5.50 and $6.50 for each of those ticket categories.

The Jammers also have the Kraft Singles wrapper deal on Tuesdays, good for a buy one, get one free reserved grandstand ticket.

Fans cannot bring food and drinks into the stadium under New York-Penn League rules, but parking is free. The Jammers have five regular-season home games left this season, with the next one Aug. 29.

>Toronto Blue Jays

The major league Jays play in Rogers Centre, less than two hours' drive from Buffalo. With its retractable roof, you don't have to worry about trekking to Toronto only to have your game rained out. The Jays classify their home games as either regular or premium. Regular game ticket prices range from $11 to $210 (all prices for Jays games in Canadian dollars), while premium game tickets go from $14 to $210. Premium games are on Saturdays and Sundays, and/or when top draws like the Yankees and Red Sox are visiting.

On "Jr. Jays Saturdays," fans 14 and under are eligible for half-price tickets in the 500 level and the 200-level outfield. And best of all, kids can run the bases after the game.

Fans can bring food into Rogers Centre as long as the items are wrapped, bagged or left inside a container. Food containers must be soft-sided and small enough to fit under a seat. Plastic bottles holding 600 milliliters or less are permitted, but liquor or beer may not be brought in.

Parking rates vary around Rogers Centre. An alternative is to park at a GO Train station outside of Toronto, buy a train ticket, ride into Union Station and take a short walk to the stadium. It's a good way to avoid traffic jams. The Jays have 21 regular-season home games left this season, with the next one Aug. 23.



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