Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Scalping free ice skating at Fenway

The mayor is shocked, the Globe reports

Scalpers cloud free skating at Fenway: City protests as rink tickets are hawked at high prices

"Scalpers used to hawking game tickets at exorbitant prices are now doing the same with tickets that were supposed to be free for city residents to ice skate at Fenway Park, in what could be the first trip for many to the hallowed field.
Tickets for the extraordinary skating opportunity at Fenway, handed out to city families as part of Boston’s New Year’s celebrations, were going for as much as $1,800 for four on websites such as Craigslist and eBay, outraging city officials and event organizers who want to know the identities of the people conniving against others for a buck.
“These are free tickets that were arranged to be given to City of Boston residents to skate free at Fenway Park, they weren’t meant for people to make money off of,’’ Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, said yesterday. “It was really the mayor making sure the residents of this city get something back, especially young people who, given this is Fenway, it might be their only chance to be there.’’
The city organized the skating event for two consecutive Sundays, Jan. 3 and Jan. 10. Event organizers were taking advantage of the ice rink set up at the ballpark as part of the 2010 National Hockey League Winter Classic Game on New Year’s Day between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. More than 38,000 fans are expected to head to that special event, and tickets to the game were going for as much as $700 on websites.
The scalpers’ postings for tickets to skate at Fenway are clear and blunt. One went: “I have 12 tickets total, will sell all for $4,000. 4 tickets for just $1,800. Once in a lifetime opportunity! No sob stories please prices are firm. Hard tickets in hand. I was given these tix by menino directly and I will be there to ensure your entire party gets into the park. . . . VIP tickets include a meet and greet with Bruin Old Timers and free hot chocolate and donuts.’’

The identity of the scalper was not known last night. Reached by e-mail, the scalper responded, “Buy 4 and I will give you an interview.’’ The message came from a Verizon Wireless BlackBerry. When told the Globe would not buy the tickets but still wanted an interview, the scalper responded “No Thanks, Pal.’’ "
"Hundreds of residents across the city had tried to get tickets on Saturday, but were turned away because they ran out so quickly. Tim Theriault, 53, of the South End, showed up at the Boston Public Library, only to be told 200 tickets were gone in 15 minutes.
He was disappointed: “Skating in Fenway Park would have been a one-time experience,” he said. But he was more disturbed that someone would take the opportunity to cash in at such exorbitant prices, saying “that’s disgusting.”
“I wish the city could do something, but what can they do,” he said. “That’s just really horrible, really bad.”
Bill Zeoli, a 44-year-old from the South End, waited in line first at the Blackstone School in the South End for close to two hours, then in Chinatown for nearly two hours, and still didn’t get tickets.
But Zeoli, who for years ran a pushcart outside Fenway Park and still goes to Red Sox games regularly, said he recognized some of Fenway’s regular scalpers among the moms and dads waiting in line with their children, and already thought the worst.
“There were absolutely scalpers that I’ve seen for years and years and years,” he said."

A subsequent story indicates that the city will try to enforce the no-scalping policy, but it's not clear if they can do more than check that skaters are Boston residents, since (among other things) some of the tickets could have been given as Christmas gifts: City to check for Fenway scalping: Menino angry, vows to monitor free skate event
"Plans are to spot-check tickets at Fenway. If the registered ticket holder is not present (only one person needed to register for four tickets), then the skaters will be turned away, Menino said.
But some who waited hours in the cold Saturday, such as Jim Cloherty of Hyde Park, had planned to give the four-pack of tickets as a Christmas gift.
“I already gave them to my niece and nephew and brother and sister,’’ said Cloherty, 59. “I got in line for them, because I can’t skate.’’ He explained that he did not plan on going, but would if it means his godchildren would otherwise be turned away.
Menino said ticket checkers will make a judgment call before turning away gift recipients. “We’re not going to be the Gestapo,’’ he said.
But the fact that only about a quarter of the skaters will be registered with the city makes enforcing the Boston-only policy difficult.
“We wouldn’t be able to police for that,’’ Menino’s spokeswoman Dot Joyce said. “That would be an unrealistic expectation. We are not going to be able to enforce everything.’’ "

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