Wednesday, November 21, 2001

It’s not yet Thanksgiving, and the Michael Jordan ticket frenzy is already over.
Washington Wizards tickets, a red-hot commodity in late September after Jordan announced his latest comeback, now are selling for below face value in the secondary markets. Jordan, of course, is one of the most popular personalities on the planet. But his presence so far has been unable to improve the long-suffering Wizards, 2-8 with a seven-game losing streak after last night’s loss against Charlotte, and many fans have moved to resell their tickets.
The Internet auction site EBay yesterday had nearly 700 listings for Wizards tickets, with even VIP floor seats at MCI Center selling for far less than their $175 face value.
In a related development, Washington Redskins tickets that were selling for as little as half the $40 to $75 face values are quickly rising in price in light of the team’s surprising four-game winning streak. Area brokers are again beating face values by as much as 600 percent, just as they did for years before the Redskins’ 0-5 start this season.
“It’s been a strange turn of events. Our local teams have really been up and down lately, and that, of course, gets reflected in demand for tickets, ” said Karl Roes, president of Stagefront, a Laurel brokerage. “We’re definitely receiving fewer calls for the Wizards, but it’s still way, way better than it was [before Jordan].”
The changes of fortune for the Wizards and Redskins have returned area ticket brokerages to their normal lines of business: selling only the best-located seats for the Wizards and Capitals at a profit, virtually any seat to a Redskins or Maryland basketball game at profit and nearly every other team in town for close to break even or worse.
The Wizards have announced a capacity attendance of 20,674 for each of their first five home games, 21 percent over the average draw for the same point a year ago. But the last several games have required decent day-of-game walkup sales to generate that sellout figure, and no-shows again have begun to creep into MCI Center crowds. Team officials are cognizant the Wizards’ draws may ebb somewhat as the novelty of Jordan wears off and have been actively marketing individual game seats previously held for season ticket sale.
“No-shows and drawing folks to some of the less attractive weeknight games are something we’ve dealt with since the building opened, ” Wizards spokesman Matt Williams said. “But it’s way too early to really worry about the team’s performance and any effect on sales. We’re not even a quarter into the season.”

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