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Losing record drives down sales, enthusiam

Marcela Berrios | Monday, October 15, 2007

Four minutes before kickoff Saturday, a scalper outside Notre Dame Stadium sold a ticket for the Boston College game for $20.

“I never thought I’d see the day when a ticket to see the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium wouldn’t sell for more than $20,” said the scalper, who asked to remain anonymous. “Especially for a game like Boston College. It’s such a big rivalry. I just can’t believe it.”

Scalpers interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, because the Notre Dame ticket office prohibits the resale of football tickets, above face value.

An individual ticket for Saturday’s game had a face value of $62, but in the hours leading up to the kickoff, scalpers saw the selling price range between $20 and $40 – a reality they attributed to the team’s substandard performance this season.

“Some people don’t even want to pay $40 for a $60 ticket because Notre Dame isn’t having a good year and the fans have lost interest in the games,” one scalper said.

He said in previous seasons he set a price – usually above face value – and if buyers found it too high, he would simply turn them away knowing someone else would willingly pay that amount. This season, he said, the value of the tickets has decreased so much that scalpers are often scrambling for buyers and slashing their prices to sell the seats at any cost.

“This isn’t a seller’s market anymore. It’s a buyer’s market,” he said.

The Oct. 6 win at UCLA – the first one this year – was not enough to return to the scalpers the upper hand in ticket resales, another scalper said.

“I thought maybe after beating UCLA the value of tickets would go up a little bit, but they’re selling for $40 at best,” he said. “It’s just the same as with the MSU game.”

He said most of his buyers were Boston College fans, who may have only agreed to his prices because, after making the Massachusetts-to-Indiana trip, the $40 cost was nominal.

“For them, the tickets were worth more because they came from far away just for the game and their team is ranked high,” he said.

He sold most of his individual tickets for $40 and pairs of adjacent seats for $100, he said. And his were some of the more profitable resale transactions Saturday.

“At this point, I’m just trying to get rid of these tickets. Even if it’s just for $20 to 25 apiece,” another scalper said. “It’s such a contrast from last year, when even after the game had already started you could sell tickets for more than face value. Tickets were going for ridiculous prices then.”

He said he sold a set of two contiguous seats for Saturday’s game for $50, a commodity that could have easily had a price tag of $150 to $160 last year, depending on Notre Dame’s opponent.

Though ticket scalping is not illegal in the state of Indiana, the Notre Dame ticket resale policy says the athletic department does not condone the practice of reselling Notre Dame tickets above face value, unless it is for a University-approved fundraising purpose. Violators could be denied ticket privileges for a number of years or permanently, the Athletic Department Web site said.