(Baltimore) – Sometimes, what you consider the most innocuous items hit a nerve.
That appears to have happened with yesterday’s post about Ravens regular-season tickets mainly being available now through the online secondary market. Specifically, TicketsNow is the Ravens’ official secondary market outlet but tickets are available all over the Web — StubHub, eBay, Craig’s List.
Reader response has hit on a couple of points. For one, people were frustrated that when they tried to get Ravens regular-season single-game tickets through Ticketmaster last Friday, they couldn’t get through or the tickets seemed to be gone immediately. For the record, a Ravens spokesman told me they were snapped up in about 10 minutes. . .
Secondly, some people are upset with the Ravens’ participation in the secondary market at all. Those folks who object equate the whole enterprise of a secondary market with scalping. And that objection has merit. If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck … well, you get the idea. For their part, the Ravens have said that they wanted to be able to offer fans a safe and reliable outlet for secondary-market ticket purchases as opposed to fans engaging in potentially problematic street-corner transactions.
I wrote about this issue for the paper a year or so ago when the Ravens-TicketsNow deal was announced. The financial terms were not disclosed but it was obviously an advertising relationship where TicketsNow took ads with the Ravens. And to be fair, let’s make it clear that plenty of other teams have similar arrangements with other Web sites, such as StubHub and RazorGator. It’s simply another way for sports teams to realize another revenue stream.
In doing the story, I talked to online retail experts, college sports business professors, representatives of the Internet companies, people from sports teams and sports leagues and, of course, fans. And the issue affects concert goers more so than it impacts sports fans.
Naturally, the Internet has changed everything and this was one conclusion I came to after my research — going forward, I see a time when most tickets are sold online in the primary market as well as the secondary market. In cases where there are personal seat licenses in place that help lock-in season tickets, the prices for those seats will be set. But for events where that’s not the case, I am sure we’ll see floating ticket prices that will change minute-by-minute based on supply and demand as a way to maximize the revenue of every single seat.
In one way, it’ll be the free market at work at its laissez faire best. But on the other hand, it will end the once admirable role of big-time sports (at least as a live, in-person event) as a democratizing influence where people of all backgrounds could come together in a common, bonding experience.