Inspired by a quick debate in this FanPost, prodded on by the looming single ticket onsale (and the fun that is wristband / VWR week!) and reminded by the news that the Brewers are lobbying Wisconsin to strengthen scalping laws and ordinances around Miller Park, i thought now might be a good time to have a discussion about the secondary market, and how Cubs fans feel about it, make use of it, where we've had good luck, where we've had bad luck, on and on.
In the interest of fairness, i must mention that i'm invested in this issue, although from a different angle. I work for a live entertainment (primarily concerts and theater) promoter, and am part of this debate every day as my industry tries to wrestle with issues of scalping, the secondary market, demand based ticketing, and the like.
My company also owns a security company, and due to that conecction, i get to work at a lot of major sporting events. Bears games, special events like the Chicago Marathon, and even the occasional Cubs game. Thanks to this experience, i can provide one warning to everyone: be careful when working with scalpers. At Bears and Cubs games alike, its rare that some fan isn't devastated to find out they bought counterfeits. At some big money games, we see dozens or even hundreds of cases of this. They usually buy them a few blocks from the stadium from a scalper standing on the corner. In some cases, the scalper may not know they are fake. In others, guys head out with the intention of selling a few sets of fakes quickly and then getting off the street before the authorities are notified.
At all major Chicago sporting events, there ARE plainclothes police officers around the stadium looking for illegal scalpers (more on this vs. legal brokers in a second) selling counterfeits.
You will have much better luck buying from a legit broker than a scalper. How can you tell if a broker is legit? The state registers them! Brokers often do work on Craigslist and post in vague ways to SEEM like regular fans... but so do shade-balls trying to sell fakes. In all cases of buying from the secondary market, you want to buy direct from the original ticket buyer, or direct from a registered broker. Anything other than that, there is no telling how many times the ticket has changed hands, and all bets are off as far as its validity (or it being the only version of said ticket in existence... with print-at-home, there is no guarantee that the ticket you are holding will be the first or only version through the gates).
To read all IL law pertaining to ticket resale, head here. A quick overview of IL ticket resale laws (these apply to both sporting events and concerts):
- Allows ticket resale ONLY by registered ticket brokers, Internet auction houses, and Internet websites
- Prohibits an event sponsor from restricting purchaser's ability to resell a ticket if the reseller is registered
- Sets standards for registered ticket brokers, including (1) maintaining a permanent office in-state, (2) paying $ 100 annual registration fee, and (3) disclosing their refund policy
- Broker's principal business MUST be reselling tickets
- Must maintain $ 100,000 cash account in Illinois available to satisfy valid consumer complaints. (Brokers can meet statutory consumer protection requirements, including the requirement to keep a cash account, by belonging to an association that is specifically dedicated to meeting them)
- Prohibits a broker from selling tickets "near the facility". This is intentionally vague (obviously, as you can buy Cubs tickets across the street but not legally on the same block), but in general, the closer to the stadium, the better, as shady resellers don't wish to be under the watchful eye of stadium security, event staff, or the police.
- Internet auction houses and Internet websites must meet substantially similar requirements, except that auction sites must also register as auction houses and both types of sites must adopt an independent and disinterested dispute resolution procedure to settle disputes between ticket resellers and purchasers
So to sum it up... buying from a registered broker allows you the peace of mind in knowing that IF your tickets don't work, you'll get a refund. When you buy from a broker, buy online or step in to their shady Clark St. storefront so you can get a receipt! Stay away from scalpers!
So, what say you Cubs fans? Do you have favorite brokers, guys that are easy to work with / don't rip you off? Broker / scalper horror stories? Advice for time and place to buy for high demand games? Advice for time and place to sell for games that must be unloaded?