Get under a roof, but not the stadium roof, to resell Final Four tickets

Posted Friday, Apr. 04, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Q: Is the reselling of tickets, also called “scalping,” legal in Arlington?

A: Not out in the open air. Reselling tickets if there’s not a roof over your head is a violation of Section 15.05 of a city ordinance, but there are a couple of exceptions.

Q; What exceptions?

A: The ordinance says you can resell tickets if you’re “within a structure for which a certificate of occupancy has been issued” — so, a business or restaurant. Also, tickets can be resold “within either the person’s residence or the buyer’s residence.” In these cases, however, the ticket must be “for the buyer’s personal use, and at a price no greater than the price at which such ticket or other admission license was issued.”

Q: How severe a crime is scalping in Arlington?

A: It’s a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Q: What are my chances of getting off with a warning?

A: Reasonable. According to Tiara Ellis Richard, a police spokeswoman, “We don’t write a lot of [citations].” She said officers who see scalping usually take a few seconds to explain the ordinance and then ask the scalpers to “move along.”

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Fans of the two teams eliminated in Saturday’s NCAA Final Four semifinals at AT&T Stadium will be holding tickets for Monday night’s final game — tickets they may no longer want.

As coveted as those tickets were at purchase, these fans may now be more interested in heading home.

That is, after they resell those tickets.

It’s a scene that is always replayed at the end of the first session in host cities of the Final Four contest, said Will Flaherty, spokesman for the ticket resale search engine SeatGeek.com.

“If you ever walk out of the [Saturday] session, you’ll see a sort of phalanx of scalpers waiting to unload those tickets,” Flaherty said. “This supply is waiting to be unleashed.”

But in Arlington, home of AT&T Stadium, ticket scalping out in the open air is a misdemeanor that can lead to a $500 fine.

“This ordinance applies anywhere in the city,” said Tiara Ellis Richard, police spokeswoman. “But it is obviously mostly enforced in and around the Entertainment District, since that is location of the city’s large-scale attractions.”

However, tickets can be resold beneath a roof, such as at a business or a private residence. In those cases, however, the ticket must be “for the buyer’s personal use, and at a price no greater than the price at which such ticket or other admission license was issued.”

But the roof rule does not apply to the roof of the stadium. Reselling tickets is not allowed at AT&T Stadium, according to the venue’s website.

Richard noted that police don’t write a lot of tickets for scalping.

“We recognize that it does occur,” she said. “But it’s nothing we do with big operations or stings. It’s only when officers see this happening. Usually they they say, ‘Hey, guy, you can’t do that here.’

“We let them know what the ordinance says and then get them to move along.”

Flaherty noted, however, that some businesses find creative ways to legally accommodate people who want to unload their tickets.

“The truth is, that type of commerce is really hard to stop,” Flaherty said. “People can sell their tickets online. Or, [dealers] can set up shop in a hotel room, or a ballroom. You walk in, hand over your tickets, and they’re sold on consignment.”

There could suddenly be a lot of tickets available starting Saturday night.

“You’ll often see fans of the losing teams dump their Title Game tickets on Saturday at rock bottom prices and skip town immediately,” Flaherty said. “Speaking from my own experience, I went to the Final Four in 2011 in Houston, and as soon as Kentucky was eliminated we bought [Monday] tickets for $50 apiece.”

Josh Logan, the NCAA director of tickets and marketing, told the Star-Telegram last week that officials hope more than 80,000 fans will attend each game, which would be a Final Four record.

Flaherty said this year’s Final Four tickets are on track to be the most expensive since 2011 — the year that SeatGeek began following ticket prices for NCAA basketball.

“It’s a mix of factors,” said Will Flaherty, the SeatGeek spokesman. “Strong local ticket interest has kept the market high.”

But, he said, there are more “premium seating options” at AT&T Stadium than previous Final Four venues.

“There are more club sections, additional suites, and those tickets demand higher prices on the resale market.”

As of Thursday, SeatGeek was tracking average secondary market ticket packages at about $1,199 for the semifinals Saturday and the championship Monday.

Single-game tickets to just the Saturday games and Monday championship were reselling for $669 and $558 respectively, with the final game always cheaper than the semifinals.

Flaherty said “absolute cheapest tickets” — those in the upper deck of AT&T Stadium — were reselling for $200 on Thursday.

“Prices should continue to fall by 15 or 20 percent between now and the start of the games on Saturday.”

Flaherty noted that “amazing deals” are typically available for Monday’s National Championship game “by waiting to buy your tickets until two of the four teams have been knocked out of the field on Saturday.”

But, NCAA officials urged people to be very careful about who is handling these transactions.

According to an NCAA news release, “people who buy tickets from unofficial sources, including unauthorized street vendors, run the risk of purchasing tickets that are not authentic and do not grant entrance to tournament games.”

They noted that NCAA basketball tournament tickets have unique security marks that can’t be reproduced. Approved sources include NCAA.com, PrimeSport, or ticket offices of the schools participating in the tournament.

“Each year we alert fans about making wise choices when purchasing tickets to NCAA Final Four games because it protects them from scam activities and individuals who may not have their best interest in mind,” said Logan. “We want to provide fans with peace of mind when they go to purchase tickets which helps to ensure a good experience at NCAA Final Four games.”

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684 Twitter: @Bill_MillerST

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