by Sean Caulfield
On the day after a great performance by Josh Beckett, one that bodes well for the Red Sox chances in the postseason, I mulled over my chances of getting tickets to see Dice-K for Game 2 on Friday with my friends.
Right after, I saw something that got me fired up on TBS, and it didn’t involve crappy announcing who butchered more Red Sox players’ names than Ted Kennedy giving a speech at the Cask and Flagon.
It is the dicey subject of ticket scalping, and “Ticket Brokers”, that came up. It’s the availability of Red Sox tickets, and the people who exploit it, that angers me.
The commercial was from a “company” called, “Higs Cityside Tickets”. In the commercial (you can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTVF6gUZuiw), this guy actually has the balls to say that if you call him, he will make your Fenway experience “a memorable one”. There’s even a portion of the commercial where a lady sits at a computer while her smiling kids and states that whenever they want to go to Fenway, they go to Higs who “we trust” and “always has great seats to any game” (although I wouldn’t even trust buying a clock from a guy who calls himself, “Higs”).
Sounds like a good plan right?
Yeah, it’s a great plan if you want to spend $825 dollars for a $130 Green Monster Seat! The brazenness of this guy! Of course a Higs Fenway experience would be a memorable one…………I ALWAYS remember the people who blatantly take advantage of situations to get money from my wallet! He might as well just say on the commercial with his shit eating grin, “Hi, I’m Higs! Call me so I can exploit you!”
Doesn’t this guy know that the average family of 4 already pays over $300 dollars when they go to Fenway through the Red Sox? OF COURSE he does.
And since he knows that, tickets (especially for marquee games versus the Yankees), are in such high demand and so scarce, he can charge you and your family even more so he can pay for his SUV, house, and the commercials that run on NESN during the game.
So, unless you have the time to go balls to the wall and camp outside of Fenway for a playoff game, which you probably don’t since you have to pick your kid up from school: it’s either overpay for already overpriced tickets, or watch the game at home or at your local sports bar.
Are you kidding me? We’re not talking about selling these tickets to some rich CEO who can afford these prices; this guy actually thinks he can help your family’s experience at Fenway by overpaying for tickets. I love how in the commercial, people are smiling while they pay for tickets at the counter. I wouldn’t exactly be smiling while I counted out 7 hundred dollar bills just so I can WALK inside the ballpark. Doesn’t this guy have a heart?
Now, consider the fact that Fenway is one of the oldest and smallest stadiums in MLB, as well as one of the consistently best teams, so high ticket demand is inevitable. Someone has to make up for JD Drew’s ridiculous salary, and it isn’t John Henry. The Red Sox spending budget is also why there are so many other revenue avenues the Red Sox explore, like that stupid dating show they have on NESN, the ads on the Green Monster, etc. As long as the Red Sox keep spending more money, you will have to as well. Soon, you will probably hear during a telecast, “And the 3-2 pitch…….strikeout number 11 for Josh Beckett! What a great fastball that was just brought to you by the good people at Valtrex!”
Therefore, tickets are at a premium. This isn’t 1967, when my dad could actually get standing room tickets for Game 6 of the World Series the day of at face value ($6 dollars). Sign of the times.
Ticket scalping has been going on since the good ole’ theater days in England during the 1800’s. It often was by some poor peasant guy who found a way to make an investment by taking advantage of the demand of tickets in order to make profit so he could buy food for his family. Hell, I bet even John Wilkes Booth probably went through a scalper to get tickets to see “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre.
Site Map I don’t mind it when you have to spend a little extra from some random guy on craigslist, like when my buddy Evan bought a $15 RF ticket for a Friday night Sox game in San Diego game for $27. The guy we met said he just wanted to cover for the outrageous ticket change from Ticketmaster, as well as a little extra for a beer at the ballpark. I don’t even mind it if fans who get tickets to Games 1 and 2 and overcharge for one game just so they afford to go to another. In a sense, they are just taking advantage of the business of baseball and the white collar clients the Red Sox solicit who will spend whatever it takes to get into the ballpark, while the real blue collar fan has a chance to at least see one of the two games (and be able to buy beer and food at those games). The ticket food chain is really baseball’s fault, but that’s for another article.
The fact that the state (MA Dept. of Public Safety) lets them get away with it that pisses me off too, as detailed in this report by Boston.com report (State Sets Rare Anti Scalping Hearing).
According to the article, “the state’s anti-scalping law, which dates to 1924, doesn’t prohibit ticket purchases above face value, but it requires anyone in the business of reselling tickets in Massachusetts to obtain a license from Public Safety and limits markups to $2 above face value plus certain service charges. Public Safety has never disciplined or audited the books of any of the ticket resellers it licenses.”
The city of Boston more often or not arrested these guys up until 5 years ago, when they stopped because the police had to relocate resources for bigger things to worry about (like murder). Even my father, who has been a Boston cop for 27 years, often said that “the only reason we arrested these guys wasn’t for the ticket scalping, but it was because we knew they were such lowlifes they would often have contraband like cocaine/heroin, stolen items, and even weapons on them as well.”
It’s not good for the consumer to have some ticket scalper degenerate start up a so-called “legitimate business” that was based from an overweight guy from Haverhill smoking Marlboro Reds the on the corner of North Beacon and Commonwealth during the 1980’s in a Reebok sweat suit, khaki shorts, and flip flops on a brisk October afternoon while hustling fans walking to the ballpark. I mean, even still, the first thing you will hear while walking out of Kenmore station is, “Tickets?! Tickets! Anyone selling, buying tickets?”
I can’t even fault this guy completely because the fact that people still buy tickets from him and his ilk makes it somewhat legit. It’s like when famed Texas poker player “Amarillo Slim” once talked about some poor farmer from Nebraska who sat down with his life savings at a $10-$20 NL Hold Em game in Oklahoma during the 1960’s that also had Johnny Moss, TJ Cloutier, and Doyle Brunson at the table. “He was a nice fellow, a predictable player, but you could tell he was poor and shouldn’t have been playing at these high of stakes versus this quality of competition. But hey, who am I to stop him from trying to give me his money while he has a great time shooting the shit with us? It’s probably more fun than sitting at home with his nagging wife!”
The business of baseball takes advantage of the prices. And the scalper, in turn, takes advantage of fans. And it’s not right. Real fans like you and me who read this blog, who want to go to a game and see great performances like Josh Beckett’s last night in person with their son, daughter, friends, etc., SHOULD have a chance to get tickets as much as the white collar folk. But you don’t have that chance because of ticket scalpers who buy up the tickets at face value while you are busy doing actual work, and then they charge exuberant prices to those who can afford them.
When you go to Higs to buy tickets, you are driving the prices up for ALL fans. That’s the message the true “Red Sox Nation” needs to shout out, because the actual one from the team refuses to touch the issue, not only from a legal standpoint (the law itself has more loopholes than an Enron mutual bond) but also for the fact the team actually thinks ticket brokers like Higs add “buzz” to “the experience that is sold out Fenway Park”. The Patriots have been chasing after these guys for years (and are currently in a lawsuit with Ace Ticket and StubHub), and the Red Sox should do the same if they in fact want to look our for the true Red Sox Nation’s interest.
Higs and people like him don’t make your trip to Fenway a memorable one. They make it even more difficult for fans, in a society where money is tight as it is, to get a somewhat affordable price for tickets to one of the greatest ballparks in sport.
At least the Nebraska farmer who sat down with poker’s best had a chance to catch a card or two and win.
With ticket scalpers in the ticket mix, Sox fans are already drawing dead.Stumble it!