Picked Off

A cautionary tale for ticket scalpers at Pro Player Stadium

And it was bad. The police made the arrestees sit in the bus until after midnight before taking them to jail. They didn't bond out until Saturday afternoon. I figure when the police catch someone actually scalping -- selling over face value -- it's fair to throw them in jail. We're all adults, after all. But the arrest reports indicate there were only a few professionals. The rest were regular schmoes stuck with a ticket or two just trying to break even.

Of the sixteen arrested, ten had six or fewer tickets. Like 22-year-old Eric Pearl of Weston. Pearl, a real estate broker, had a few extras and was just trying to sell them at face value. "I couldn't believe it," he says of his arrest. "I didn't even think I was doing anything wrong."

The trespassing charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1000 fine, which might be suitable for profiteers, like I wanted to be. Greedy brokers can hurt the game, driving up prices for good fans. That's the reason I've decided never to try it again. Of course, if I'd made a grand or two, I'd have lined up six friends to snap up as many World Series tickets as possible and then gone on a scalping rampage to rival Little Big Horn.

Got tickets, lower levels, need tickets?
Colby Katz
Got tickets, lower levels, need tickets?

But this trespassing thing, with the bus and the jail, was over the top. I asked Det. Randy Rossman, a Miami-Dade police spokesman, about it. "We have to enforce the law," he said. "If they sold those tickets for face value off the stadium grounds, they wouldn't have been arrested."

Exactly. I suspected that Pro Player Stadium officials, who were actually paying the officers, might be behind the crackdown. So I called the stadium's director of operations, Jim Crowley, who was listed as the complainant on all the arrest reports. "We don't talk about those matters," he said.

Whoever was behind them, the arrests didn't stop the selling. Before the Saturday Cubs game, another dozen people were handcuffed for ticket sales -- eleven for scalping, one for trespassing. The next day, seven more were led away by police, bringing to thirty-five the total number of arrests for the three games. And you know there'll be more crowded paddy wagons in the Pro Player garage again this week during the World Series.

Which leads us to the real lesson of all this: Don't sell tickets at Pro Player. Buy them instead. Even if New Yorkers jam up the market for these Yankees games, you'll get a decent seat at a good price if you hustle.

Myself, I went back with my son for the Sunday game against the Cubs -- the Josh Beckett masterpiece -- and picked up two great club seats right behind home plate for $50 apiece, or $20 under their combined face value. It was a great transaction. I gave the guy the cash, and he said, "I never turn down money."

That put me up precisely two bucks for the two games. So I came out ahead after all.

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