NCAA, colleges align with ticket brokers
At the StubHub school sites, ticket holders can sell their extras or average Joes can buy the finest seats in the house. So Trojan fans eager to watch USC face Virginia in the Sept. 11 home opener can buy a seat inside the Los Angeles Coliseum for just $39. High-rollers looking for a 50-yard line perch for the late November game against Notre Dame can expect to pay $3,000.
StubHub also works with pro teams such as the Chicago Bears and Washington Wizards and has an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball. Ticketmaster is the NFL’s official ticket exchange partner.
“Scalping is no longer a guy in a van or behind a hotel,” said Mark Nagel, a University of South Carolina associate professor of sport and entertainment management. “It has become a ‘legit’ business.”
Brendan Ross, Razorgator’s president and chief executive officer, and other industry types preach a free enterprise mantra that considers sports and concert tickets a commodity, not a birthright.
Since season ticket holders assume a risk “conferred by the team” and “give their money as an obligation to the team before (they) know what the product is,” there is no reason they should be prohibited from reselling those tickets, Ross said.
Internet sales also allow buyers and sellers to be exempt from anti-scalping laws in the few remaining states and localities where selling tickets at marked-up prices remains illegal.
Online secondary ticket brokers take a hands-off approach when it comes to the source of the tickets sold on their sites. In the Kansas case, school employees sold complimentary tickets and others intended for donors to ticket brokers in suburban Kansas City and Norman, Okla. An independent review paid for by the school did not determine how those tickets were sold once they were in the brokers’ hands.
“We don’t know how the tickets are obtained (by) our sellers, and we don’t ask,” said Chris Tsakalakis, president of StubHub and general manager of eBay’s ticketing division. “The onus is on the seller to make sure they follow the law. The assumption here (at eBay) is that people are basically good.”
Tsakalakis said that the Kansas incident shouldn’t tarnish the reputation of ticket brokers, just as the misdeeds of crooked car dealer or a rogue government official wouldn’t mean their entire professions were tainted.
Las Vegas ticket broker Ken Solky agrees. Yet he said the pressures on campus ticket managers to generate revenue for their schools could lead some to cut corners.
“You’re in a position to (ensure) that there are butts in a seat,” said Mr. Solky, president of his industry’s national association. “If I’m doing my job right, and I’m in the athletics department, I’m going to do whatever I can to get fans into the arena.”