Saturday, June 27, 2009

The secondary ticket market

I'm off to New York in a couple of days and one of the concerns is getting tickets to the games. At least decently-priced tickets. With both the Yankees and the Mets opening new digs this year and raising their tickets prices to pay for it, watching baseball in NYC has become a very costly proposition indeed. Fortunately, a friend has season tickets and is kind enough to sell them to me for face value for some games, but for others, I may have to explore the resellers market.

This secondary ticket market, made famous by StubHub, has only become popular in the past few years. When I lived in Vancouver, scalping, or selling tickets above face value, was illegal. I never understood why it was frowned upon, if I have something that I can sell and a buyer who wants it, why not allow the transaction? Fortunately, sports franchises have now come around to the capitalist point of view. Now it is not only legal, but embraced by teams, who allow their season ticket holders to sell extra tickets online, often for a significant premium.

I have no problem with this development. Season ticket holders should have the chance to profit from their investment (which ultimately is what their season tickets are) and if the teams can pull in a few dollars in fees, all the better. The economic "loser" in the equation is the casual fan who may only want to see one game while on vacation. In this case, he should have no problem paying a premium for a good seat. It's simply supply and demand.

As a roadtripper who tries to see a lot of games though, it becomes cost-prohibitive to use this market on a regular basis. Of course, I could buy online, but with TicketMaster charging a per-ticket convenience fee plus an order fee plus a delivery fee, this method becomes rather expensive itself. I prefer to buy at the box office on game day, and in the rare case where the event is sold out, I can usually find someone with an extra ticket at or below face value. This also protects against rainouts, the roadtripper's worst nightmare - no refund and no chance to re-use the ticket.

Interestingly, it turns out that the NY secondary market is not as strong as anticipated. Ken Belson notes in this article that many season ticket holders are losing money trying to resell their tickets. So maybe next week will be a bit cheaper than I expected.

Ottawa Fury

I have complained about the dearth of summer sports teams in Ottawa, a city of over 1 million people who don't like watching sports very much. Fortunately, there are the Ottawa Fury, two teams (men's and women's) who play in the lower rungs of the United Soccer League. They have two games this weekend, so I'll check out the game tomorrow against the Long Island Rough Riders and have an update thereafter.




  1. Hey Sean. I can understand your frustration with stubhub.. I "used" to use them when finding concert tickets. Have you ever tried Craigslist? I know, its probably not the safest, most secure website in the world, however in regards to both getting rid of tickets, and finding tickets in a jiff, its an awesome website. Plus you dont have to deal with annoying fees from these secondary websites.

  2. I have used Craigslist a couple of times, but find that arranging meet-ups can be difficult when traveling. I don't trust the electronic tickets either, and don't travel with a printer anyway, so the best bet is still the box office, unfortunately.