- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2005

Area ticket brokers have dozens of tickets for the Washington Nationals’ sold-out home opener at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, with some costing as much as $1,550.

Thursday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks is one example of a hot-ticket event that is keeping the local secondary ticket market booming.

Local ticket broker Web sites, including TicketMonster.com, GreatSeats.com and UpFrontTickets.com, have dozens of tickets available for sold-out events in the D.C. area. Brokers say finding buyers typically is easy.

Brokers, who scrounge around for the best seats to sold-out events, buy from season-ticket holders, participate in phone and Internet sales and stand in box office lines with regular fans.

They aren’t always lucky in selling their seats, though.

After Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made a negative comment about President Bush in 2003, TicketMonster owner Curtis Cheng couldn’t unload tickets to the group’s multiple shows at the MCI Center.

“We were selling $150 tickets for $25 and nobody wanted them,” Mr. Cheng said. “We ended up eating $20,000 in tickets.”

Brokers say the market for sporting events is more volatile than the concert circuit, because the ability to sell depends on a team’s performance.

Mr. Cheng expects to have leftover Baltimore Orioles tickets, despite reducing his inventory, because of the Nationals’ emergence.

“Even what I did buy I don’t think I’m going to be able to sell not much more than face value,” Mr. Cheng said.

Richard O’Neil, an employee of UpFrontTickets, said if he is stuck with tickets for an event, he often will sell them on the street below face value.

GreatSeats owner Danny Matta said he will give leftover tickets to his employees the day of an event.

Ticket brokers offset the loss of leftover tickets or sales below face value with the high resale value of the rest of their inventory, Mr. O’Neil said.

The size of a ticket brokerage varies. UpFrontTickets has six employees but brings in commissioned workers on the day of general public sales to assist in buying tickets. The workers are paid based on the kinds of tickets they are able to acquire, Mr. O’Neil said.

A common misperception about ticket brokers is that each has hundreds of tickets for any given event. In reality, many list one another’s inventory on their sites, said Gary Adler, general counsel for the National Association of Ticket Brokers.

Venue operators, who often are concerned about on-site scalping, say ticket brokers have little financial impact on them.

“The main concern that we have with ticket brokers is that they obtain their tickets in a fair manner just like any patron could obtain tickets — that is they stand in line or they purchase the ticket limit over the phone or Internet,” said Barrett Newman, general manager of the Warner Theatre in Northwest.

However, having open seats at a sold-out show can affect consumers’ perceptions.

“The negative effect is the consumer might have the incorrect notion that the venue, the promoter or the [artist] is participating with a broker,” Mr. Newman said.

Some venues have taken steps to control ticket purchases.

The Patriot Center in Fairfax holds an on-site lottery at its box office an hour and a half prior to any public sale to determine buyers’ line placement, said General Manager Barry Geisler.

However, more people are turning to the Internet to buy tickets.

“Venues have much less control as to who gets those tickets and what those people do with them once they get them,” Mr. Geisler said.

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