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OPINION: Ticketmaster and scalpers are killing live sports

Ticketmaster is colluding with scalpers to drive up prices, according to a joint investigative report by The Toronto Star and CBC News.

Investigative reporters caught Ticketmaster pitching a software program designed to help scalpers break their own policies. The company helps scalpers make multiple accounts, the report claims, helping them buy out every ticket at an event and sell them at an inflated price.

No wonder it’s so hard to find tickets at a regular price. Ticketmaster is going out of their way to make sure that the only tickets we can find are from scalpers at exorbitant prices.

This is so infuriating to me. I’m a huge sports fan. I love going to the games. And I’ve got to tell you, I completely believe this report, because ticket prices never could have gotten as high as they have unless something illegal was happening.

But I don’t believe for a second that it’s just Ticketmaster doing this. Every site is doing this. We’re just waiting for the other scandals to break.

StubHub Has Been Caught Doing The Same Thing

StubHub’s logo. (Wikmedia Commons)

Just last year, StubHub was caught doing the exact same thing. In November, 2017, another CBC investigation revealed that StubHub has a secret, password-protected section of their website that was only accessible to people who resell at least $50,000 of tickets a year.

It was an entire system set up to help scalpers. On their secret site, StubHub was giving scalpers software designed to help them buy out thousands of tickets – even though, officially, they had a 4-ticket-per customer limit.

Scalpers get rich off of this stuff. It’s not just small money. One scalper working through StubHub, named Julien Lavallee, was bringing in millions every year, just by buying up tickets and reselling them at a higher place. And StubHub was helping him do it.

Event Tickets Have Become Unaffordable

Vivint Arena on Mar 30th, 2017. (KSL.com)

Scams like these have made going to games and concerts completely unaffordable. If I want to go see the Utah Jazz plays the Boston Celtics on Nov. 9th, it’ll cost me up to $810 just for one ticket. And that’s before all the fees Ticketmaster throws on top.

Ticketmaster put out a statement trying to justify colluding with scalpers, and, quite frankly, it just doesn’t make any sense:

“We believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets.”

Please — somebody explain this to me. How does making tickets so expensive that the only way you can afford them is by robbing your neighbor make people safer?

There’s no justification for this. Online scalpers have made tickets so expensive that ordinary people can’t afford them anymore. The only way you could pay for a ticket like that is if you’ve just robbed a bank.

Most importantly, kids can’t afford them anymore. And that’s more than just an annoyance. That’s going to kill the game.

Collusion With Scalpers Is Killing Live Sports

A young boy cheers on the Utah Jazz. (NBA TV)

Some of the fondest memories I have are of going to sporting events with my brother as a boy. Back then, my brother would buy the tickets for me. He was just a college kid – he wasn’t rich by any means – but when I was growing up, a ticket to a game would only cost $5 or $10.

My fear is that kids aren’t going to be able to afford that anymore. I go to games every chance I get, and I see tens of thousands of seats that are empty.

People aren’t watching live sports anymore, and I don’t believe that’s because they aren’t interested in the team. I truly believe that they just can’t afford it any longer.

Scalpers are buying up every ticket from every event, all so they can resell it for double, triple, or quadruple the value. And websites like TicketMaster and StubHub are helping them do it.

This isn’t just expensive. This is ruining live sports and concerts. A whole generation of kids is going to miss out on the experience of sitting in the bleachers and cheering on their favorite team, or standing in the pit singing along to their favorite songs.

And all because a few scalpers want to make a few extra bucks.

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Dave Noriega is the co-host of Dave & Dujanovic, heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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