GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The deal set up through Craigslist and a series of emails promised four Santana tickets for $1,000 or two for $550.
Those tickets for a June 1 show at Frederik Meijer Gardens recently sold out — quickly — for $150 each.
“So, you’re the one selling the tickets?” a 24 Hour News 8 reporter asked the unidentified scalper at the meeting outside a Starbucks on East Beltline Avenue.
“Yeah,” the scalper replied.
“How much you selling these for?”
“Two for $550. The both of them.”
After learning he was talking to a reporter not interested in making a purchase, the scalper admitted he was selling the tickets for his sister and that she was trying to make a few bucks.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything wrong,” he said. “I feel like it’s a kind of first-come, first-serve kind of deal.”
Even though it happens all the time, it’s illegal in Michigan to sell tickets at higher than face value without permission from the venue. It’s a rarely enforced misdemeanor that carries up to 90 days in jail.
The state House of Representatives has approved legislation to make scalping legal and it is pending in the Senate. Some big venues and big-name acts, including Kid Rock, strongly oppose the legislation.
Meijer Gardens officials say they won’t take a stance on it.
According to Meijer Gardens President David Hooker, nobody has permission to re-sell the venue’s tickets at inflated prices — not even third-party ticket sites like Stubhub.
Despite that, there are tickets out there for this year’s sold-out Meijer Gardens acts — one site advertising a half-dozen Santana tickets for $329 each, another selling Sheryl Crow tickets for $200.
“We would never bless that and we would strongly caution anybody to do business with these sites,” Hooker said.
The quick sell-outs at Meijer Gardens led to complaints from members who were shut out, some suggesting scalpers were buying up the tickets.
But Hooker said data from ticket sales showed that didn’t happen.
“I’m not naive enough to think that there aren’t individual examples, but nobody bought tickets in significant quantity that would suggest that somebody bought up a bunch of tickets and they’re going to try to sell them,” he said. “The data doesn’t support that.”
Star Tickets allows sales of up to 19 tickets per transaction, but no one bought that many, Hooker said.
That brings us back to our scalper, who said he doesn’t know how many Santana tickets his sister bought. He said he didn’t know scalping was illegal.
“But I do now,” he said.
“Maybe there is wrong in it,” the scalper continued. “But I don’t feel like I’m stealing or taking money from people or anything like that, and it’s their option to buy it if they want to buy it.”
He figures the Santana tickets will sell.
“If not, then I’m stuck with them,” he said.
As for Meijer Gardens, its president said he plans a review of how it sells tickets, but hasn’t seen any flaws.
“I know a number of people were frustrated that they didn’t get on the website right away,” Hooker said. “We had over a million hits on the Star Tickets website in one-hour period.”
“One of the things we confidently know happened and we worked very hard at: Every member had an equal opportunity to get the tickets. We realize, obviously, some did and some didn’t. We feel badly about that, but we only have 1,900 tickets,” he continued.