Scalpers Beware?

A good friend whose entire life seems to be devoted to watching and critiquing our local government sent me this little tidbit that will be on tomorrow’s city council agenda:

1st Reading:  AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SD, AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY AMENDING CHAPTER 131 “OFFENSES AGAINST THE PUBLIC” BY ADDING SECTION 131.007 “TICKET SCALPING,” WHICH WILL PROHIBIT TICKET SCALPING FOR TICKETS BEING SOLD ABOVE FACE VALUE.

Sponsor: Mayor/Finance

Wait, what? They’re actually going to spend time tomorrow night debating a ban on scalping? Why? When did this become a problem?

In a city where attendance has always been a serious issue, ticket scalping is one of the least of our concerns. I can count on my hand the number of sold out concerts in recent years, and even the most successful minor league or college sporting events are not exactly packing any local facilities. 

I’m sure the official reason is due to that albatross that’s being built next door to the Arena, but it’s silliness. Despite the bravado of local officials, a 12,000 seat building isn’t going to do what the 8,000 seat Arena couldn’t do. Yes, there will be a bit of a blitz that first year or two, but sold out shows will be few and far between.

Even if our city sees a boom in successful shows, laws such as this one will do nothing to stop scalping. We’re not living in the Fast Times at Ridgemont High era, where Mike Damone was the guy to go to for impossible to find seats. There’s no standing in line outside on freezing winter days waiting for ticket booths to open. 

The ticket scalping that happens in the big cities are by giant, legal companies such as StubHub, and this law will not have the teeth to stop their computers from jumping ahead of you in the Ticketmaster queue. If authorities can’t stop prostitution on Backpages.com, they’re going to have a tougher time stopping a parent from getting a Bieber ticket online.

As the music industry continues to collapse, the ticket broker industry has also seen a drop in revenue. In many cases, they’ve had to dump their tickets for next to nothing on even some of the world’s biggest tours. If it wasn’t for the NFL, or courtside seats at certain NBA cities, these businesses would have a tough time making a yearly profit.

The few acts that still inspire such devotion, though, have come up with their own methods to ensure that scalping isn’t an issue. Besides limiting the number of tickets that can be purchased to only a pair or so, many acts also now require the purchaser to present the credit card used to purchase the tickets when they show up for the event. 

Sadly, one of the deep, dark secrets of the music industry is that many acts actually make deals with the likes of StubHub. They privately sell a good percentage of the best seats to these companies in exchange for a percentage of the extra revenue. If we can’t stop artists from ripping off their fans, how is a city ordinance going to do the same?