- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

The Washington Redskins are revoking season tickets belonging to fans caught selling them for profit on the Internet auction site EBay.

Redskins Vice President Karl Swanson yesterday confirmed the club’s policy of canceling the season tickets of fans who sell any tickets for more than face value, a common practice for getting rid of unwanted seats.

EBay yesterday listed nearly 1,500 auctions for Redskins tickets, ranging from single-game tickets to full-season packages that include parking permits.

The Redskins state in the contract for the purchase of season tickets that the club will “reserve the right to revoke and/or not extend renewal privileges to any season ticket holder who advertises and/or sells ticket(s) for a price in excess of face value.”

Mr. Swanson said the club will not sanction fans who sell their tickets at or below face value. He did not say how many fans have had their tickets revoked.

“We’ve been concerned about scalping for some time. … Our concern is with the massive amounts of scalping that goes on by some individuals and others with large blocks of tickets,” Mr. Swanson said.

National Football League spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has no policy regarding the resale of tickets on EBay. No other NFL team is known to enforce a policy similar to that of the Redskins.

The Washington Times obtained a copy of the standardized letter from the Redskins sent to those whose tickets were revoked. The four-paragraph letter from Matthew B. King, senior director of ticket operations, simply stated the team’s resale policy as the basis for its action.

Mara Bralove of the District last month had six of her 12 season tickets revoked after a relative sold four of them on EBay. Miss Bralove said the tickets had been in her family since the 1940s.

Redskins policy states that the account holder ultimately is responsible for the actions of whoever uses the tickets.

Miss Bralove said she thinks the policy penalizes too harshly for the actions of another person.

“The family is devastated,” she said. “The tickets could have been given to anyone and passed on 12 times. How can we be responsible? It’s so wrong.”

The reselling of tickets has been a fan tradition since the Redskins first began selling out then-D.C. Stadium, later RFK, in 1966. However, bar coding and computerization have made such sales easier to track, especially when seat locations for each ticket are shown on EBay.

Club officials can discover who owns the tickets by comparing those seat locations with their records.

Lower-deck seats are money-makers for resellers, who rarely can get more than face value for seats in the upper deck or for club seats. Fans can get twice the $1,600 original cost of two season tickets in the lower and upper decks — and parking permits sometimes bring three times their $25-a-game cost.

Resellers said tickets for games against the Dallas Cowboys are the hottest ticket each year, with tickets for the season opener often second.

Pete Hughes regularly sells Redskins tickets on EBay, and the ticket broker sees nothing wrong with doing so.

“I’m not one of these guys who stands outside the stadium in a raincoat,” he said. “I deal legitimately. What’s wrong with that? I know someone who’s an antique dealer. How is she any different than me? She’s selling to people who want to pay more for the antiques.”

Some sellers on EBay merely are trying to sell tickets for one game they don’t want to attend, especially preseason games. A Northern Virginia fan, who requested anonymity, said he was just trying to recoup money for a game he didn’t want to attend.

“I was just trying to get rid of a preseason game that I didn’t have any interest in,” he said. “Instead of not going and leave the seats empty, I thought I’d try EBay to get something for them. I knew I wouldn’t even get half price for them. I’m not interested in selling them for profit.”

• Staff reporter David Elfin contributed to this article.

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