Sunday, May 15, 2005

Set the Scalpers Free!

I first started blogging and had my only ever letter to the editor in the Seattle Times published, because during the dream season of 2001, the Mariners started going after scalpers. Never in my life have I ever heard of the Ms hiring off duty cops to arrest their own fans. Especially for doing something, that if the Mariners weren't amazingly good that year, wouldn't have mattered one way or the other.

The hight of the hipocrasy was that the Mariners themselves were scalping their own tickets! They used to run a service called Mariners Ticket Marketplace, were fans could resell their tickets at a high prices and the Ms would get a cut. At the time, fans like me were not happy:
The trend is troubling for many baseball enthusiasts, particularly Mariners fans. Check the "Fan Forum" section of the Mariners official Web site, and the concerns are real. "You want to see real scalping?" wrote one fan. "Last year dozens of $6 [centerfield] bleacher seats were being offered out at $89 each for some games. It's funny how you have to be a season ticket holder to sell through this forum, yet the Mariners don't sell bleacher seats as season tickets! I guess having a 16-game pack could have its privileges."

Another fan wrote, "While the Mariners ask police to stop illegal ticket scalping in Seattle outside Safeco Field, they profit from inflated prices they 'legally' sell from their ticket agent's computer."
Anyway, it looks like the Seattle City Council is getting around to changing their outdated scalping law. The new law would allow just normal guys like me to stand on the side walk muttering "Got two?" And for the more serial scalpers, the guys that make money off of it, would require them to get a business license. Ah, the best of all worlds.

In the last few years, when the Ms and the Seahawks have been good, the actuall were arresting scalpers, but finally a judge saw how crappy that was:
In January 2004, Seattle Municipal Court Judge Jean Rietschel held that two men accused of scalping Mariners tickets were the victims of selective enforcement because the baseball club was doing the same thing online and no one was bothering them. At the time, the club was paying off-duty cops to patrol streets surrounding Safeco Field and bust people for scalping. The city appealed Rietschel's ruling.

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