A Moveable Feast (and Wet Bar)

Hayes Bowman

(Editor's Note: Strikethree.com does not endorse any of the below techniques, and provides them here for your entertainment only. You alone will be responsible for any ejections, arrests, or hot au jus dipping sauce burns you may suffer by trying them. And please, drink responsibly -- look what it's done to Bowman.)

It's easy to whine about how much it costs to see a game, because if you're not careful, it's a poor deal for you. Until this changes, I recommend that all fans smuggle in all the food and drink they require. I hope that as an accomplished smuggler I can offer you some advice.

First, learn the rules of your stadium. At the Kingdome, you can bring in pizza, burritos, soda in cups but not coolers, cans, or the nebulous "things that can be thrown". They've obviously never seen me discus a pizza twenty yards, but that's fine. You should immediately see loopholes: you could go to Wendy's, buy a spicy chicken meal, and bring it on in, nice and legal. Other stadiums have even more draconian rules.

Violate them. Bring in cans, bottles, "throwable" objects. Against you will usually be cops, who have better things to do but are paid OT to look through bags. First, you don't want to get searched, so try to distract the cop with a decoy friend with a legal bag, then walk past the distracted officer. Use multiple friends if you have to.

But that's really just a technique for losers. What you want to do is take a backpack in, preferably a good one. In it, pack:

  • A newspaper
  • Baseball Weekly
  • Your 'Baseball Prospectus'
  • Bag of peanuts
  • Your glove
  • Car stereo
  • Whatever else you have lying around in the car

Then conceal the soda/beer on your person:

  • In your coat pockets
  • In your jeans pockets (front, neck down, covered by untucked shirt, and in back if you can manage it)
  • Belt, if you're able to get them comfortably positioned
  • Inside ankles, neck down, held by long socks, jeans

Conceal larger edible things in the sleeves of your jacket (forearm and upper arm, one arm only - and not the arm you're holding the bag with) and any inside pockets you may have.

For the advanced smuggler, before you leave the car you can actually strap or tape large objects to your back. I don't particularly recommend that, but if you have to get a 2-liter bottle in instead of two small ones, that's the way to go. They don't ever look at you as you walk past or size you up for weird bulges - if you've got that pack, that's what they look at.

The basic smuggler may want to try concealing things in the bag. I don't recommend this, because that's where the cop's looking, and trying to play hide-and-seek with a professional seeker is just asking for trouble. But don't put it at the bottom, and don't put it where they'll see it in their immediate dig-around.

Now as you walk up, the cop will nod at you in that cop way (or yell at you). Stroll up and offer your bag to him (If you've got one arm heavily stocked with Heineken, you'll want to either hand it to him or set it down in front of him).

The cop will paw through your stuff while asking you questions so devious you'll start to sweat ("Any cans, bottles, fruit, vegetables in here?"). This is important: don't lie to the cop. Your response should be "No, just my glove and stuff." He should harumph and hand your bag back at this point. Be polite, say thanks to the oppressor, and walk on. Do not answer:

  • No, they're all concealed on my person
  • Shouldn't you be after O.J. or something?
  • No, my friend there just walked past with them
  • Only drugs

Or, in my case:

  • I don't even know Hayes Bowman<

Sometimes, if you know how to handle the situation, a cop will let you in even if he knows, but you have to approach him right, pick the right cop, and say the right thing. I don't recommend this approach, but if you get caught by an observant cop, be friendly, be open, don't whine. The cop doesn't care if you promise you'll never smuggle again, or if it's the first time - all the cop wants is a reason not to make you throw out the stuff this time. Give him one, and make it funny. If caught, try throwing away just the item they noticed (or, better yet, concealing it near the bottom of the bag). Or try another gate.

You're inside. You'll notice that generally, immediately inside the gates is a lonely-looking stadium usher. This is why you shouldn't walk in and immediately break out your smuggled goods. Sure it's uncomfortable, but think of the money you're saving. As difficult as it is to walk, march up those ramps and find your seat. Sit as best you can and then move all the items to your bag. Now, on breaking them out:

Etiquette: offer your smuggled food to those around you. This way, no one squeals. Don't offer beer, though, people get sensitive about that.

Technique: be tricky. While you could be careful about when you steal swigs, that's pretty tacky and an easy way to get caught. Buy a cup of overpriced beer, choke it down (I know it's Miller Hefeweisen, I know it's not a 'microbrew' as advertised - just drink it), and then set it down. Refill it with Heineken (or Redhook) and enjoy. It's a Cup of Holding, a Fountain of Beer. This way, you always look like you're drinking out of stadium-supplied cup, even while you deny them their criminal markup.

Revel in your savings: Let's say you smuggle a modest two small bottles of beer in. that's $10. Now make that four 22-ozers for you and a friend. Add some food, that's a small fortune, and a much better time at the ballgame.

Smuggling: it's not a right, it's an obligation.

Hayes Bowman is currently working on his first book: Guerrilla Ballpark Tactics, for which he's currently researching a chapter on how to hide in the stadium between games of a day-night doubleheader so you don't have to pay twice. Offer your observations at bowman@strikethree.com.

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