Ticket Scalping

[I wrote this prior to the Playoffs last year and am still amazed how little attention ticket scalpers receive outside of Fenway Park. I went to a game this weekend and scalpers and Boston Police happily wandered together through the crowds.]

August 31, 2004, my 26th birthday. The Angels were in town for a wildcard “race” game a month before the end of the season. I admit Sox nation was pretty excited at the time as the Sox had an incredible August. I decided that morning I would take my wife and another couple out to Fenway to see the game. The game was obviously sold out and the only way to get tickets would be to buy some off of scalpers before the game.

Now I may be ignorant to these sorts of things, but I thought we could get cheap seats at or near face value since selling tickets for profit is illegal. Boy was I wrong. I got to Fenway about 2 hours before start time and began to dance the scalper tango. Not a single person would even talk to me unless I was willing to pay at least double face value. “This is a critical game,” they said. I was not about to pay $50/seat for $18 nose-bleed bleacher seats. I didn’t even know if the tickets I would be buying off of these jerks were real.

At any rate, 2 hours later I still didn’t have tickets and the prices had not come down. And to top it off, I was now on the secret scalpers’ “black list,” because I had been asking for face value tickets all night and they all began to ignore me. At one point I was talking to one guy and I told him the price he was asking for bleacher seats was ridiculous and he asked me what I was willing to pay. I noticed one of Boston’s finest coming up behind the scalper and loudly declared I would only pay face-value. The scalper went nuts and started to walk away when the officer politely asked him to leave. Not 5 minutes later did I see that same scalper pawning his tickets on unsuspecting Sox fans.

I’m a huge baseball fan and an even bigger Sox fan. I’ve been playing ball and following the team all of my life. And to have these jerks in control of whether I will need to part with $200 just to see a mid-season Sox game from the top row of the bleachers saddens me. The owners and city should do more to crack down on scalpers or at least try to dissuade them from making such outrageous profits at real fans’ expenses. A Boston.com poll asked, “Do the Red Sox do a good job cutting back on scalpers selling tickets near Fenway Park?” Nearly 92% said “no.”

This wouldn’t be such a serious problem if there were viable ways for Sox fans to purchase single game tickets. A couple of years ago they offered packages of four games to early birds before the season. That is just a start. How do scalpers get a hold of so many tickets? I’ve never owned a baseball team, but it seems like it would be very easy to pinpoint exactly how these tickets are being bought and to put an end to it. They literally have stacks of hundreds of tickets for every game!

The Sox owners don’t care enough about their fans. They make money on every ticket sold and since Fenway Park is sold out every night, they don’t care who buys the tickets and how much they resell them for. Ticket prices have increased every year and if scalper rates continue to be at least double face value, then Fenway may be sold out, but empty very soon.

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