The Art Of Gatecrashing: How to Sneak Into Professional Sporting Events

The legendary Dion Rich (Google him) could be accredited for starting it. When I reached out to him, he taught me much of what I know now, and eventually even gave my friends and I the honor of meeting him before we snuck into Super Bowl 46 (but that’s for later).

Gatecrashing has served as a source of entertainment, an adrenaline rush, and simply a way to save money. I have snuck into over 50 sporting events from Chicago Bulls games to Super Bowls, and for years have gotten the same question; “how do you do it?” For that reason I felt it would be appropriate to provide an extensive how-to guide.   I feel the methods I will provide are low risk, and highly effective. They have never failed me to date.

Front Row at SBXLVI for the start of celebration. All I paid for was the shirt on my back.

Front Row at SBXLVI for the start of celebration. All I paid for was the shirt on my back.

Many of the steps I am about to go into apply to concerts and other high profile events as well, but are specially crafted for sports fans trying to see their favorite team play.

Sneaking into games is illegal, but varies in opinion if it is unethical (an argument I have had countless times), so by the writing of this article I am not condoning the activity, but instead answering the questions I have received countless times to the best of my ability.

Rule 1: Know Your Role

There isn’t just one way to gatecrash. It’s important to recognize what you’re good at, and what may give you an advantage. Are you short or tall? Are you quick on your feet, or do you freeze up when somebody even says hi to you? It is important to utilize certain skills when it comes to getting into your favorite sporting event.

For example, I am tall, and have found that I have a harder time slipping through gates, but I have utilized my skill of talking, and acting my way into events. My good friend, who has joined me in many crashes, is shorter, and not as comfortable talking, but finds it easier to slither through crowds until he finds his way in. Think about what may give you your “edge” on the security.

Rule 2: Know Your Venue (K.Y.V)

Like most skills, practice makes perfect. Having a background of the venue you are trying to conquer is imperative. When starting up with this hobby, go to a game with a ticket, and analyze the venue’s process when it comes to checking people in at the gates.

-Does it get crowded and hectic?

-Are there turnstiles, or actual gates?

-Are there security guards along with the ticket scanners?

-Once you are inside, do they let you go to your seat without showing a ticket?

These are just a few things you must look out for, but it is crucial that you are not surprised by any aspects of the venue upon arrival. Become an expert.

The Crash

After thoroughly completing the steps above, and having gathered up enough confidence, it is time to crash. Whether you decide to talk your way in, or sneak your way in, these steps are crucial to a clean and successful crash.

Step 1:   Arrive Early

This step is very self-explanatory. Getting there early simply opens doors (not literally). Take a couple laps around the stadium. Scout out the gate you will attempt first, and simply get a feel for the venue. When it comes to sneaking in, time is money. More time equals more attempts, and more opportunity to brush up on Step 2.

Step 2:   Dress the Part

NFC Champ Layers

Physical appearance is key. You don’t want to stand out. For example, if you are trying to sneak into a cold Bears Monday Night Football game, it is probable that if you wear a Bears jersey on top of a jacket with a Bears winter hat, you will blend in with the 50,000 other fans,. That will give Stadium Faculty no reason to even acknowledge your presence. Also, if something goes wrong at the gate but you manage to get in, you can get lost in the crowd in mere seconds.

Another way you can dress the part is by simply looking nice. A collared shirt and nice pants tells the people at the gate that you mean business. By wearing nicer clothes your story must change to something fitting such as: “My Dad works at Comcast, and has my pass to the company dinner before the game”. Explaining that you are an intern for the team’s athletic trainer is another approach, among many. As long as you have your story planned out, anything may go.

Step 3:   Act Like you Belong

Simple composure is arguably the most important part of Gatecrashing. Keep your chin up at all times and have the confidence that you are the team owner going to sit in the nicest box seat in the stadium. If you are waiting in a chaotic line and see a large family, and a ticket scanner who looks overwhelmed, that is your opportunity. Get behind that family, wait for the right moment and simply keep going without looking back.

If talking your way in is more your style, keep your composure at all times, and be prepared for any question they might ask you. Remember, you are the customer, and the customer is always right.  A good basis I like to use is the “Birthday Trick”. When sneaking in, it is ALWAYS my birthday. It simply distracts the scanner or security guard from the situation, and gives you a reason to be at the game. (Always know your “birthday”. I have been asked the date and gotten it wrong before).

Second Row at the 2013 B1G Semi-Final. No Cost.

Second Row at the 2013 B1G Semi-Final. No Cost.

Something like “my dad has my ticket and is waiting for me in section 208” is a common way for a crash to start. It is important to not use any real names when gate crashing because that could land you in serious trouble. Ken Smith has worked for me almost every time. Don’t ever get intimidated. Asking to speak to their supervisor shows confidence in your story, and has paid off for me multiple times. Many times they don’t feel like dealing with you, and may just let you in and forget about you.

If a certain gate is not working particularly well, all that means is that it is time to try the next one. If you get flat out denied, arguing is the worst thing you can do. Don’t anger the staff member, and NEVER question their authority. It is also important to remember names of these staff members, and maintain friendly relationships with them. During my career, I have gotten denied multiple times, but I simply accepted defeat, and tried the next gate. Never give up!

Once Inside, How to STAY Inside (and Enjoy the Game)

Part I:     Layers

As stated earlier, getting lost in the crowd is key. Once you are lost you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. I got into the habit of wearing layers of clothing. Layers allow you to change your appearance if you feel somebody is on to you. Simply go to the restroom, and change your red bulls shirt into the white one underneath. This way if security is looking for “a suspicious character in a red shirt”, it is no longer you.

Part II:    Scout out your Seat

Sacrificing the first 5 or 10 minutes of a game to scout out prime seating arrangements is a very important task (if you care about sitting close). The first step of this process is heading up to the nosebleed seats where (depending on the game) there should be a few openings. Being up high gives you a good view of the seating below, and potential openings. If you are with a buddy or two, look for open chunks or 3 or 4. Memorize the section and a rough estimate of the row, and when the time is right, make your way down. This trick has gotten me front row seats at multiple events.

Nosebleeds are the best place to start. My first seat at SBXLVI

Nosebleeds are the best place to start. My first seat at SBXLVI

Part III:   Staying in good seats

In between quarters, halves, periods, or whatever increment of time in the game causes a decent amount of traffic for people going to the restroom, getting food etc., that is the time to claim your prime seat. Once traffic slows down, exit your seat, but tell the ticket checker you forgot your ticket at your seat, and to remember your face. You now have free reign in and out of those seats the rest of the game.

Part IV:   When crashing is not enough

Once you feel comfortable with your crashing skills, it is time to start thinking about getting on fields, courtside seats, in locker rooms after games, etc. Simply use the same steps listed above, but know that the people guarding those areas are smarter, more qualified, and that the stakes are much higher.

Part V:    Documentation

Once you are comfortably enjoying the game, make sure to document your crash. Wherever you go, there will always be doubters. Prove them wrong with a good picture, or many.

Have fun. Be careful. Gatecrashing can be easy if you take my advice, but costly if you do not. Good luck!

When Sneaking In isn't enough. Some buddies and I in the locker room after the Blackhawks won the 2010 Western Conference Finals

When Sneaking In isn’t enough. Some buddies and I in the locker room after the Blackhawks won the 2010 Western Conference Finals

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