Thursday, July 3, 2008

The view from the cheap seats.

Baseball's annual exhibition game, the All-Star game is next week. Today, I received an e-mail from Major League Baseball with a link to buy tickets to the game. Well, I was born during the day, but it wasn't yesterday. I figured there was a ruse afoot. Sure enough, clicking the link set me up with the "Official Fan to Fan Ticket Marketplace" (i.e. Legal ticket scalper) StubHub. The oddly named ticket re-seller. If I wanted a ticket stub, I wouldn't buy one from a scalper. Those, I can pick up off the floor.
Being the curious guy that I am, I clicked it. Prices ranged from a low of $365 to a high of (sitting down?) $29,500. That's right. And it wasn't just one guy, there were 19 sellers asking at least $10,000 for a seat to the game. I'll leave it to you to digest those figures.
What galls me about the whole StubHub scam is that the professional leagues (the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL) along with the King of ticket scammers, Ticketmaster (Ticketbastard) are in cahoots with the re-sellers like StubHub, and conspire to limit ticket sales to real fans so that the re-sellers (scalpers) can sell them at exorbitant prices under the guise of doing us a favor by allowing us entrance to premier sporting events and concerts that we otherwise couldn't get into - unless the ticket buying process was an honest enterprise and not controlled by the sellers.
The odd thing is that the real scalpers - the guys outside the ballpark that hawk tickets - are usually arrested by law enforcement because they ... anyone? ... they break ... anyone? ... they break the law. How so? By selling tickets for more than face value. Well, isn't that what StubHub does? That makes good nonsense. StubHub can do it because it is "sanctioned." Do we understand the difference? Me neither.
Tickets to concerts and sports are among the biggest scams perpetrated on the public. Sure, you can get into any crappy little venue to see your favorite independent artist (like Gov't Mule), but if you want a shot at some All-Star game or big-time rock show, get that Home Equity Loan application started, because you ain't getting in otherwise.
Everybody wins except the fans. When the game is televised, the field-level seats will be occupied by people like Billy Crystal (the world's most annoying Yankees fan) and Spike Lee (the world's second-most annoying Yankees fan) and other celebrities who are either comped by MLB so they can show them on the TV or can cough up the ten grand for a seat. Either way, Yankees season ticket holders are sitting in the nether regions. How do I know? Because in 1996 Philadelphia had the All-Star game and my seat was in a place where (I swear) I couldn't see the ball. Bill Cosby could see it though.
What it means is that the fans will have to watch the game on TV, which is the other part of the equation. TV wins, the team wins, the ticket sellers win and the ticket re-sellers win. It's a win-win-win-win-lose.
We lose.

No comments: