It's a familiar refrain: It's easier to stay home. The high cost of attending live sporting events convinces many fans that they'd be just as happy watching on television.
But there's no substitute for the live experience for true sports fans and not everything is televised. We went looking for sports venues that combine good value with great fun, making a trip to the ballgame (or other sport) worth the extra effort to get off the couch.
Here are possibilities:
1. River Cats baseball
Where: Raley Field, 400 Ballpark Drive, West Sacramento
When: April 4-Sept. 2
Admission: Starting at $8 for lawn seats
Details: www.rivercats.com, (800) 745-3000
The Triple-A gateway to the Oakland A's, the River Cats are perennially one of the best teams in minor league baseball. On the banks of the Sacramento River, Raley Field provides a perfect setting for a lazy summer evening, watching soon-to-be major leaguers hone their skills. Promotions offer discounts, food specials or giveaways at many games, particularly weeknights. (Last season, seniors could get free meals on Mondays.) From tri-tip barbecue to Merlino's orange freeze, the food is tasty, too.
2. Harness racing
Where: Cal Expo, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento
When: Through May 11. Racing Thursday-Saturdays; first post, 5:40 p.m.
Admission: Free; free parking
Details: www.calxharness.com, (916) 263-3279
Wanna bet? Here's one sporting event where you might come home with more money than you had when you arrived. Wager on live standardbred racing under the lights on Cal Expo's one-mile oval. It's a cheap date; admission and parking are free. Food and drink specials are offered in the remodeled clubhouse.
3. Sierra Sno-Parks
Where: Sierra Nevada highways
When: Through March 31.
Admission: $5 per car per day
Details: ohv.parks.ca.gov, (916) 324-1222
Looking for cheap winter fun for the whole family? Get into the snow without spending a fortune. California's state parks department coordinates 18 Sno-Parks in the Sierra Nevada, all easily accessible off major highways. As long as there's snow, these parks provide a safe place to play and sled. Some parks such as Carson Pass offer cross-country skiing and dog-sled trails, too.
4. Stockton Thunder hockey
Where: Stockton Arena, 248 W. Fremont St., Stockton
When: Through March 30
Details: www.stocktonthunder.com, (209) 373-1500
See exciting hockey, up close and personal, in this fan-friendly 10,000-seat arena. Seats just behind the glass are $28, but the $10 seats are a good value, too. The always-competitive Thunder is the minor league affiliate of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. Lots of promotions and giveaways are aimed at children.
5. Sacramento Kings
Where: Sleep Train Arena, 1 Sports Parkway, Sacramento
When: Through April 17
Admission: $20 and up.
Details: www.kings.com, (888) 915-4647
If the Kings indeed leave for Seattle, this may be fans' last chance to see NBA action live in Sacramento for a long time. The Kings are heavily discounting several of their remaining home games and offering package deals such as "Guys Night Out" one seat, one beer and one hot dog for $20. Check online for best deals.