Stop ticket scalping; do not legitimize it

While scalping will always happen on the Internet, the state shouldn’t legitimize it.

Renewing her fight for the legalization of ticket scalping, Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, claims the law is useless and goes against the concept of a free-market economy. But legalizing such activity will only create a legitimate business out of buying and selling tickets at exorbitant prices.

Kahn’s point that the law is ineffectively enforced is right on. But Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice was not charged even after admitting he sold Super Bowl tickets for several times their face value. The key should be to curb scalping where it starts.

Many big-name performers already charge ridiculous prices to see their shows – one must already shell out hundreds of dollars to see Paul McCartney, Elton John or the Rolling Stones. Of course, there are those who would pay much more – and do – but allowing such activity to blatantly take place would turn going to concerts into an elitist affair.

Although Ticketmaster effectively has an unfair monopoly on the market, at least its prices are consistent. Allowing another middleman into the mix to jack up prices even further will make it increasingly harder to see live performances, and these additional brokers will swoop in to grab as many tickets as possible and effectively add another fee to the already ridiculous list of surcharges we currently pay.

Ticket prices for concerts, sporting events and other live performances are already too high for many to enjoy. There is no compelling economic reason to allow ticket scalping and make it even more difficult to see a big-name band in concert. Many of these acts are part of our history, as important parts of pop culture, and should not be reserved only for those who can afford to pay ridiculous prices.

Yes, scalpers will always exist. People will always be able to buy hard-to-find tickets at top prices on e-Bay. But that does not mean the government should sanction such an activity.

Instead of pushing for legalizing ticket scalping, Kahn should fight for better enforcement of the current law, thereby creating more equal opportunities to enjoy the rich diversity of performers and sporting events the Twin Cities attracts.