Many years ago, it was illegal for people to buy tickets to shows or sporting events at face value and sell them for 10 times or more, making a huge profit. That all changed when lawmakers in Tennessee and other states made it legal. Like in a lot of other businesses, it's called "free enterprise." It gives anyone the freedom to buy as many tickets as possible and sell them for whatever they can get for them. There are even big companies out there like Stub Hub or Ticketmaster who make millions of dollars off people who just want to go see their favorite teams play.
My first experience with this "free enterprise" came in 1990 when I bought three tickets to game five of the 1990 World Series in Cincinnati.
That was 31 years ago and I paid more than $200 each for the chance to take my father and son to see a World Series game. Notice I said game five. The Reds swept the Oakland A's four straight and since I bought the tickets from a big company I received a refund (minus a processing fee of $50 a ticket.)
I have bought tickets a few times from scalpers on the street and actually paid face value or less for them. However for the most part, those prices are generally far more than what the scalper paid for them. At practically every big sporting event, you can see scalpers with tickets in hand, standing on the street trying to make money.
Social media has also given scalpers a way to sell tickets. This week, I noticed a post stating that a person had four tickets for all three NCAA Super Regional baseball games in Knoxville, as Tennessee hosts LSU this weekend. The face value for those tickets was $360. The person was asking $6,000 for those tickets. If he sells them at that price he makes $5,640 profit. I failed math in three states, but I can tell you that they would make almost 16 times what they paid. To me, that's obscene. That completely takes normal, everyday folks out of the picture for getting to see the Vols play baseball. The university has since sold standing room only tickets for $15 each but they were gone in minutes. They also have set up a place outside Lindsay Nelson Stadium where a big screen television will be available for fans who want to party together while watching the games. While a lot of people are blaming scalpers for the lack of tickets available at face value, a huge portion of them were taken by donors and season ticket holders and there is nothing wrong at all with that.
With scalping now legal, there is no way to regulate ticket prices. In other words, scalpers can now sell tickets for whatever price they can get. If the guy who is trying to sell those four tickets for $6,000 gets what he wants, there is nothing anyone can do. The only ones who can do anything about those high prices are those who want to buy them. In other words, don't buy them. I hope the guy gets stuck with those tickets but that's very unlikely because the "BaseVols" are very hot right now. A couple of years ago, you couldn't give away tickets to a Tennessee baseball game and now fans are paying premium prices.
There are plans to expand and renovate Lindsey Nelson Stadium which would help greatly. I imagine that every coach in the Tennessee athletic department wishes they had the same problem that baseball has.....a team ranked second in the country and a high demand for tickets.
Randy Smith can be reached at email@example.com