Texas and LSU fans were looking for last-minute tickets before Monday’s game.
By Kirk Kenney
OMAHA—A former colleague was driving to a Chargers-Raiders game in San Diego several years ago with his girlfriend. About a mile or so before they got to the stadium, there was a man on the side of the road with a sign that read "I need tickets." A couple of hundred yards past him was another guy with a sign that read "Tickets for sale."
At which point, the girlfriend said, "Why don’t we pull over and tell the guy with tickets that there’s a guy back there who needs tickets?"
And so began a discussion on ticket scalping.
That story came to mind this week as I ventured in and around Rosenblatt Stadium the past 10 days. I’ve seen several fans outside each day trying to get rid of tickets either because friends flaked on them and they had a pair to get rid of or because their team went 0-2 — that would be Cal State Fullerton and Southern Mississippi — and they were in no mood to stick around when they no longer had a dog in the fight.
There is another group here, however, that isn’t pulling for a particular team. They prefer to be called "entrepreneurs," and I can respect that, although "scalpers" is the more common term. There are probably a couple dozen of them working this event. They’re easy enough to spot because they’re about the only ones here who aren’t wearing hats or shirts with team logos as they walk in front of Rosenblatt or up and down 13th Street. Oh, and they also are waving around a bunch of tickets fanned out in one hand. I saw one guy wearing an apron with "I Need Tickets" on the front and the back, a fistful of tickets in his right hand.
I have to think the scalpers are excited about this CWS Finals matchup. Texas and LSU bring the most fans, many of them willing to pay a premium to see their beloved Longhorns and Tigers.
The City of Omaha prohibits selling tickets over face value on the Rosenblatt Stadium premises or within a 1/2 mile radius of the ballpark, although that hasn’t really deterred anyone. I’m told there are undercover police roaming around, although I can’t confirm that because they’re, well, undercover. I haven’t seen anyone arrested for scalping. I don’t think it’s a big priority as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.
Approximately 1,000 reserved seats went on sale yesterday at the Rosenblatt ticket office. One fan, who drove down from Chicago with his two sons, was in line for three hours, but the ticket supply was exhausted before they got to the window. It seems some people began camping out 48 hours before the tickets went on sale. He believes that many of those at the front of the line were scalpers who were working in shifts to save their spots to have a chance at the tickets, with a face value of $27 and $33.
The NCAA created a Web site this year where fans can go to buy and sell tickets to avoid being at the mercy of scalpers. Big help. When I checked on Thursday night, there was one pair of tickets (behind the plate) listed for Monday night’s CWS Finals game—listed for $230 per ticket. There were no tickets listed on the exchange for Game One when I checked earlier Monday, although a couple hundred were available for Tuesday’s Game Two, priced anywhere from $115 to $632.50 per ticket. The prices are higher than on Monday because of the potential for it to be the decisive game.
General admission tickets were available for the $10 face value, although they don’t guarantee a seat in the bleachers and require standing in a long line for the opportunity. A line of perhaps 300-400 fans already was snaking along the grass beyond the outfield wall when we arrived 3 1/2 hours before game time. I guess when you have baseball fever, standing in 92 degree heat isn’t as noticeable.
Outside Rosenblatt Stadium less than an hour before the game, business was brisk and the wheeling and dealing quickened as the clock ticked down to the first pitch. Reserved seats were going for anywhere from $100-$150 (one scalper picked up a pair from an LSU fan for $60) along 13th Street.
"Who needs two?" asked a scalper.
"I need them, but not at your price," responded an LSU fan.
Among the crowd was Jeff Weickert and his son Eric, who had just flown in from Atlanta.
The Weickerts were in Atlanta at 7 a.m. trying desparately to get a flight here. They missed out on two flights to Kansas City, one flight to Lincoln, one to Des Moines and two or three flights to Omaha. They were nearly shut out, waiting standby on a Delta flight to Omaha before finally getting the last two seats on the plane. They landed, rented a car and came straight to the ballpark. All they needed was a pair of tickets.
Walking up 13th, the Weickerts were beginning to discuss terms with a scalper when a woman tapped Jeff Weickert on the shoulder and handed him two tickets located just to the first-base side of home plate. Just like that, a "crappy day," as Weickert called it, was all good.
"I told her she was No. 1," said Weickert, "and then I bowed graciously."
The only problem now is that Weickert’s son is wearing a Texas T-shirt and their seats are located amid a sea of LSU fans.
Somehow, I don’t think they’ll mind.
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