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Editor at Large

Supply and demand in its primal form

Decades ago, several future successful businesspeople cut their teeth on the laws of supply and demand by scalping tickets at football games. (Scalping, at the time, was not illegal in this municipality.)

Essentially, they bought tickets on-site at low prices and sold them on-site at high prices. But it was not quite that simple. Precisely how they accomplished that was a result of experience, guts, hustle, strong work ethic, sales savvy, prescient timing and marketplace smarts.

Yes, it’s very much like the business plan of a successful company.

I always thought the economics of buying and selling tickets at a major sporting event would make a great thesis for someone’s doctorate. It’s just the seller and the buyer and the market. No laws. No rules. No consumer protection. No merchant protection. Everyone beware.

Short of writing a thesis – and inspired by the start of practice for pro and college football – I offer fundamentals of scalping for those looking to buy tickets outside a major sporting venue:

-- Don’t buy from the first scalper that you see. Get a sampling of the market before springing for tickets.

-- Well before the game starts, the farther away from the stadium, the less the price for tickets. At that time, they are most expensive just outside the gate.

-- At some point before most games, possibly 45 minutes or an hour before kickoff, the price of the tickets will crash. At this time, you can get a great deal for tickets – but you might miss the pregame band show or, worse, the kickoff.

-- When buying more than one ticket, make sure the seats are together. Being in the same section is not good enough; some stadium sections hold thousands of people.

-- Know your stadium and the section numbers and/or letters. Know what's a good seat and what is a bad one.

-- Bad weather typically will lower the price of tickets.

-- Your best bet for getting affordable tickets at the stadium is to comb the parking lots about three hours before kickoff. That’s how scalpers get their tickets – from people who drove to the game with extra tickets because, for example, another couple canceled at the last minute.

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