At first blush, 2011 doesn't seem like much of a sports year, at least compared with 2010, which saw the Winter Olympics and the World Cup. But there are plenty of events to keep the traveling sports fan interested in the coming year — some near, some far.
And remember the serious sports fan's credo: Nothing is ever sold out; it just gets more expensive.
First up is football, with the BCS Championship on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz., a day's drive from L.A. Jeff Brooks of Al Brooks Tickets noted that tickets were selling recently for $750, then prices doubled. This runs counter to the usual trend of ticket fees starting high, then dropping, he said. It indicates serious interest from the L.A. market, which seems to have more of an Oregon presence every year.
The next major event will be the Super Bowl, a little game held annually that gets a fair amount of coverage. Next year's colossus will be Feb. 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game has become almost an invitation-only event. Look for prices to be through the roof — and higher, particularly if teams with national followings, such as New England and New Orleans, compete. You could hold a wedding for what a weekend there will cost.
Lakers games have become almost Super Bowl-like events themselves, where the chance to be seen is as appealing as the game itself. That never bodes well for the average fan.
Brooks said Lakers ticket prices, which have been consistently high, show no signs of dropping, even given the bad economy. Look for February's NBA All-Star game at Staples to make an average Lakers game seem like a bargain. At this point, $750 gets you in the building, but not necessarily near the floor.
But, Joe Sixpack, bear with us for relief is on the way. Major League Baseball is the only sport where you can still see single-digit ticket prices, and spring training games are only two months away. The Dodgers and Angels open the exhibition season against each other Feb. 27 at the Dodgers' Camelback Ranch complex in Phoenix. The exhibition season runs through March.
The Dodgers are also offering spring training trip packages, on four dates. The packages include a pregame brunch with players and team personnel, game tickets and merchandise. Info: http://www.losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/spring_training/tours.jsp?c_id=la
Another attractive spring training road trip is the Dodgers-Cubs game in Las Vegas on March 13, a Sunday. The Cubs have a new manager and an old curse but always attract a large following. The Cubs also play in Las Vegas on March 12 against the Cincinnati Reds. Tickets: (702) 798-7825.
Baseball is where you'll find most of the bargains for next year. Baseball junkies might consider one of the multi-city packages put together by companies such as Diamond Baseball Tours (www.diamondbaseballtours.com). An East Coast trip in August includes stops at Yankee Stadium, the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and Boston's Fenway Park. Hotels, transportation between ballparks and game tickets are included in this particular six-game package, which goes for $1,450 a person if you're traveling with a partner.
Come fall, college football fans will have more opportunity for travel as the Pac-10 expands by two teams. USC plays the University of Colorado in Boulder on Nov. 5. UCLA will play Utah in Salt Lake City on Nov. 12 (www.bruingold.com).
The Trojan calendar includes a Thursday (Oct. 13) game against Cal at AT&T Park in San Francisco, and the always popular Notre Dame game in South Bend, Ind., on Oct. 22 (www.usctrojans.com).