Friday, November 14, 2008

Selling, buying, you lookin' for hockey tickets?

The NHL is getting into the sclaping game. Officially, anyway. Today marks the debut of the league's official ticket exchange program. It appears that each team is setting its own rules. For instance, Vancouver is charging a $25 membership fee for non-season ticket holder access to the available tickets. Ottawa is pretty clear that the price can't be marked up (and that you can't sell the parking). The rest of the Canadian teams don't have their rules up yet (but, I'm sure MLSE will figure out a way to make money off it--God love 'em).

Scalping is the third oldest profession, it seems. The pro teams are coming late to the game and one wonders what it is that is leading them to find religion now. In the past, NHL teams have taken scalping about as seriously as Claude Lemieux's comeback attempt. Like when the hot new spot makes you line-up for 40 minutes to get into the half-empty club, sports teams know that having scalpers selling tickets seconds from the gate gives off the appearance of scarcity.

I would suspect that this is nothing more than identifying another potential revenue source, but it would be a glourious day if it was a symbol of something more. Although any sports fan knows that you are just often going to get into the event below face value it's still unfortunate that most good ticket are being controlled by scalpers. It keeps them out of the hands of real fans (because I might be willing to go down to the ACC and wait until 5 minutes after puck drop to get really good seats at three-quarters of face value, but it's unlikely that a parent is going to make the drive down from Barrie with his or her kid to see what's there. And that parent is going to have to pay 200 per cent of face prior to the game).

So, we'll see. We won't hold our breath, but we'll see.

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