Up until a bit over a half-decade ago, ticket scalping was illegal in the state of Florida. Then, the Florida Legislature, in their infinite (lack of) wisdom, changed their minds. The new law now allows a legitimate company, broker or website to resell tickets for travel or to sports and entertainment events without a price limit. The Legislature did install a few “consumer protection features” – each reseller must also allow refunds for ticket purchasers if the event is canceled; the purchaser is denied admission to the event; or the ticket is not delivered in the manner requested, causing the purchaser to miss attending the event. You still can’t resell tickets on the actual property where the event is taking place. God forbid.

What this has done is basically price many sporting events and concerts out of reach of the average fan. I recently went to the Ticketmaster website to try and find tickets to a Miami Heat game. Ticketmaster now features resale tickets along with standard face value tickets. Legalized scalping. For the games I searched, there were but a few scattered face value tickets (none of them side-by-side)… but there were PLENTY of resale tickets available. And the resellers sure weren’t embarrassed to charge a hefty price for their seats.

Nosebleed 400-level seats that have a face value of under $50 are going for two to three times the original price. If you dream of sitting in the lower level, the (relatively) reasonably priced $160-180 seats are now going for over $600. And if you want to get closer to the court, you better figure on shelling out a grand (or more).

Keep in mind that none of these tickets include food, drink, or even a kiss on the cheek. Whatever food you want certainly isn’t cheap. And drinks? Bottled water is $4. Beers go for $9-13. Mixed drinks start at $12 – or you can get a “double” for just $17. With tip, your cocktail just cost you $20. How many drinks do you really want?

And how does the typical middle class American family of four afford to come out to an NBA or NFL game? The answer is, they can’t. Pro sports have been priced out of the reach of the average person. Although I understand that Miami Marlins tickets might still be a bargain…

Other live events like concerts are also falling victim to the greed of the reseller. Ticketmaster, Stub Hub, and other online resellers have made millions off of what used to be illegal in Florida (and many other states). Some acts, like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, set aside good seats for their actual fans. They include safeguards like ticket limits, will call pickup on the date of the show, and other measures to ensure that their real fans get the good seats.

I don’t know if I’ll make any more Heat games this year… unless they keep stinking up the joint like they did Wednesday night against the Thunder. Then we’ll see what happens to ticket prices!

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This coming Wednesday, Feb. 5, Howard Livingston & the Mile Marker 24 Band will perform a benefit show for KOA Care Camp at the Marathon Yacht Club. The Camp is Howard’s signature charity, and it provides the full summer camp experience and all necessary support for kids with cancer. There are still patio seats available, plus a cash bar (from 5 p.m.), hors d’oeuvres, and an auction. For more information, call 305-743-6739.


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