Sports fans put up with a lot of crap. Granted, they create a lot of that crap, but most followers do so on passion and a bond formed with a specific group of athletes, or at least a combination of colors on a jersey.
Which is why my No. 1 pet peeve is the so-called “secondary ticket market.” Or as it should be known – “scalping.”
Recent deals between ticket brokers such as Ticketmaster and Stub Hub with big entities (the NFL and ESPN, respectively), have lent an air of legitimacy to the practice of re-selling tickets for sporting events, but the simple truth is the industry – with full cooperation from the leagues – is exhibiting unsportsmanlike conduct.
Fans should be able to buy tickets for the price stamped on the stub and never any more. Period.
A good portion of secondary ticket sellers are season ticket holders who don’t go to every game and want to get some of their money back. Now I have no problem with these folks getting the face value of the ticket refunded to them, but why should they profit? A quick scan of a secondary ticket website revealed a lower level seat at HSBC Arena going for $372 for an upcoming Sabres game when the Leafs are in town.
According to the Sabres’ box office, that ticket usually goes for $161. That’s quite a score. Some might say it’s way too much. What are the chances that seat just sits empty that night? Great way to represent the game.
We often get letters from readers with young families they want to treat to an NHL game, but can’t because they’ve been priced out. Team owners certainly haven’t helped by setting the initial ticket prices high and then selling food at rates that would shame a movie theatre, but the notion that a website or a sketchy dude in front of the arena has control over a block of tickets instead of a true fan is shameful.
I have no problem with first come first serve if it’s for personal use, but otherwise the pastime is being hijacked.
So here’s my solution: Print names on every ticket. You go to a game, you bring your driver’s license. If you’re a family of four, just one of the parents needs to show I.D. Going with some buddies from work? Same deal; let’s say one I.D. for every three adults.
In terms of logistics, all tickets are electronically printed anyways, so what’s one more line of text? Lineups to get into games would be longer by say, one second per group.
Corporate boxes would be excluded from this clause, and season ticket holders could still lend tickets to friends who pick up the ducats at roll call anyway.
Old-style scalping is out in the open at nearly every sporting event and completely ignored by both police and security 99 percent of the time.
Simply putting names on tickets would stamp out the practice almost completely.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appears Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
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