I’m not big on ticket scalping. If I’ve done it for five events in my life it would be a lot. Of all my ballgame experiences I believe I’ve paid scalpers to get in twice. (Although I did score a great seat to an Orioles-Yankees game at Camden Yards for nothing once. The seat was so good I could see the expressions on my Orioles’ faces as the Yankees whipped their butts. Sometimes patience and persistence can make a world of difference.)
The first time was my first trip to Fenway in 1995. This was the year after the strike killed the World Series; fans were angry and tickets were easier to come by. Even with this, I paid something in the arena of $25 apiece—remember this is 1995 dollars—for bleacher seats at Fenway. My buddy and I ended up with very low seats close to the field. Except they were a little too low, and I was bobbing my head up and down trying to see through a railing all night.
Another time was in Atlanta. It was in 1999, my first (and thus far only) trip to Turner Field. I took the shuttle bus to the park and found someone willing to sell me a single seat. I don’t remember how much I paid, but it was a ripoff no matter what it was. The nice fellow said to me as I was walking away with the ticket on a cloudy evening, “The best part is, if it rains, you won’t get wet!” Apparently he’d never been in Turner Field before. The seat was in the upper deck all the way down the left field line, a seat that I believe you could get for a dollar today. Fortunately the place was empty on a rainy Monday night, and I was able to improve my lie early on.
I’m not a haggler. Never have been. It’s a product of growing up in a capitalist society. American consumers for the most part don’t have to endure that BS. Sell us the product at the right price or we’ll go elsewhere, period. Keep things simple so we can spend time planning our next trip to the ballpark.
But Andrew Van Cleve, author of the “Ultimate Fan: Have Game, Will Travel” blog, has opened my eyes to what an advantage this gives to fans who are willing to haggle.
Van Cleve gives tips on how to scalp tickets for low demand games, high demand games, playoff games and everything in between. He tells you exactly what to look out for, like networks saying a game is sold out. He describes the differences between StubHub and Tickets Now and other outlets. He goes into detail about what he calls the “Soar and Sink” cycle, where tickets skyrocket in price…and then fall as most folks are scared away. He has a few humorous stories of scores he’s made getting tickets.
The most important advice Van Cleve gives (although it’s all very good) is about how to deal with scalpers in general at the event. He debunks six separate myths about scalpers, including that you will get ripped off or that you need to be a good negotiator. Van Cleve claims that 99.5% of ticket scalpers are legit, and that you need only to know the market to negotiate. He tells you not to worry about the seller looking p***ed at you; that this is all part of the act.
Andrew Van Cleve lives in Chicago; according to my buddy Gary Herman he is within walking distance from Wrigley Field. I can’t think of a better location for someone to learn everything there is to know about how ticket scalpers operate. But he’s been around a bit too, as the title of the blog suggests.
I’m still not a scalper, but if I find myself in a position of necessity sometime, having this knowledge is going to be a big help. Who knows, I may need to learn that haggling skill to get into places soon, to best get the photos found in Ballpark E-Guides!