Ticket Scalper II

Chicago, USA
September 4, 2011

It wasn't as easy to get cheap tickets to today's Cubs game as it was when I went a year ago.

Last year, I came on a weekday afternoon. Today's game was in the middle of a long, holiday weekend. Last year, I came alone. I went to today's game with Megan and Nephew Nicholas. Last year, even before I stepped out through the turnstiles out of the Addison 'L' station, I was in the middle of a crush of scalpers offering tickets. For today's game, I didn't see anybody offering tickets until we had walked out from the station and well down the street.

I approached a scalper to ask how much he wanted for three tickets.

"These are box seats. Face value. $65 each," he said.

"Well, how much will you take?", I tried to begin beating the price down.


David and Nick
Outside Wrigley Field
"How about $10 each?", I said.

"There's a guy over there who's letting tickets go for $10. You can try him... ," the scalper said indifferently, not making any counter to my low offer.

I approached the guy rumored to have $10 tickets. But he was already folding up seating charts and other papers on a small, low table, telling a couple facing him that he had nothing left to sell.

I tried increasing my initial counter-offer to the other scalpers lurking around the stadium. But, even at $15 there was still little interest in negotiating a price--let alone in selling me any ticket.

I hadn't factored in how different buying one ticket to a weekday afternoon game was from buying three tickets to a game on a holiday weekend. Before coming up to Wrigley Field I had budgeted that I wouldn't have to pay any more than $20 per ticket. It had been so easy to buy one off the street for half that amount when I came last season. I certainly hadn't expected that the lowest asking prices would be several times what I had previously paid.

The first inning ended. The scalpers still weren't reducing prices from face value after the game had begun. I decided that buying directly from the box office might be a better option. Perhaps they would still have tickets for three seats together that weren't as expensive as what was being offered on the street. I got in line to enquire. The man standing in line ahead of me asked a similar question:

"What are the cheapest seats you have?"

"Box seats for $50."

I hadn't brought enough cash to buy three tickets at that price. I walked back over to where Megan and Nick were standing.

"How about down Clark Street? There might be more people selling tickets over there," Megan suggested.

I crossed the street but still had no luck. There were fewer scalpers in that area. Those that were about were already negotiating with fans who seemed interested in buying.

I figured there was no other option. I resigned myself to going back to the box office and pulling out a credit card to pay $50 for each ticket. This time, I happened to walk up to a different window than where I had overheard that figure as the lowest available ticket price.

"What's your least expensive ticket to this game?", I asked.

Megan and Nick Shop
for Cubs Shirt after Game
"I can sell you tickets for $15 for 'standing room only'," the woman on the other side of the glass said. "But to sell you those I need to see a person standing here with you now for each ticket you want to buy."

"Megan! Nick! Come on over. We got tickets!"

Wherever in the stadium "standing room only" was supposed to be probably would have been a lousy place to watch the game. But, we never made it there. A few steps through the gate we immediately spotted a row of 10 vacant seats along the first-base line in back of home plate. The view of the field was fine. We sat down in the middle of the empty row; whoever held tickets for those seats never came to the game.

The game was only somewhere into the second inning. We ate pretzels and hot dogs, drank soda pop, and cheered whenever the Cubs made a good play. The sun stayed out over the entire game. It was the first time I've seen the Cubs win.

Final score: Pittsburgh Pirates - 3, Chicago Cubs - 6, Scalpers - 0