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Sports ticket scalping goes digital

Slugger Barry Bonds swings for the record books.

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Kai Ryssdal: The days when you sidled up to a scalper at a concert or ballgame to score a last-minute ticket are largely gone. Nowadays, what's called the secondary market in event tickets has gone high-tech.

You can try eBay or Craigslist. A company named StubHub, too. It's an online ticket reseller — that's the official name for the secondary market — and it's owned by eBay. It also has a brand new deal with Major League Baseball. Marketplace's Steve Henn explains.


Steve Henn: If there's one ticket most baseball fans wouldn't mind buying tonight, it's gotta be to the Dodgers-Giants game. With Barry Bonds on the brink of breaking the all-time home run record, it's a chance to witness history. But . . .

Greg Bettinelli: I believe that game's sold out.

Greg Bettinelli's director of business development for the online ticket reseller StubHub.

Bettinelli: Imagine in 2008 if that game was sold out. You could then be directed directly on that club's site to StubHub, where you could find tickets to tonight's game.

Bettinelli just inked a deal with Major League baseball giving StubHub the exclusive rights to resell tickets in concert with the league. They'll even be a direct link to StubHub from MLB sites.

But there's one catch:

Russ Haven: My guess is this will only make it harder for average fans to get reasonably priced, good seats.

Russ Haven from the New York Public Interest Research Group's a critic of the big fees charged by StubHub, which pockets 25 percent of the resale price. He thinks the new deal will only make scalpers more aggressive.

But Bob Bowman, the CEO of MajorLeagueBaseball.com, says giving fans an easy way to resell unwanted tickets is essential.

Bob Bowman: This is what the fans want to do, particularly in baseball. You buy 81-game package, you're not gonna go to 81 games.

But even after the deal goes into effect, StubHub won't be the only place to scalp tickets online. The site will still have to compete with Craigslist, eBay and everything else.

Just FYI: for tonight's game at Dodger stadium, tickets in the outfield are selling for about 70 bucks a pop on Craiglist.

In Washington, I'm Steve Henn for Marketplace.

About the author

Steve Henn was Marketplace’s technology and innovation reporter for the entire portfolio of Marketplace programs until December 2011.

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