Ticket Price Gouging

I was listening to Marketplace on NPR last night, and there was a report on ticket prices for the World Series. The reporter talked to people who were lined up alongside the Green Monster at Fenway, spending the night there in the hopes of getting the limited number of same day tickets that are made available.

The prices reported for World Series tickets are obscene, ranging from $700 for one bleacher seat to $7000 for a ticket behind home plate. And these prices are down from the 2004 World Series.

The reporter also talked to some ticket agents, and the gist of their argument was: free market, baby.

But no one ever asked the question I had, which is: how do these agents get the tickets? They aren't the ones sleeping out overnight in front of the stadium. Do they clog up the phone lines when the tickets go on sale? How do they then get access to prime seats like right behind home plate? Or is it the simplest explanation, which is that they are given the rights to sell tickets that the general public does not have access to?

I can't quite imagine a scenario that doesn't leave me thinking: these guys are price gouging. Many states had implemented laws against this sort of mark-up, but it is almost never enforced, and most of the states that did so have removed that restriction all together.

I'd be curious to hear from anyone who is familiar with how ticket agents get their supply, and whether I'm making this more nefarious than it needs to be. Either way, I think it's wrong to essentially make it impossible for people of limited means to participate in something simple like going to a game.

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