Go Ahead, Sign The Bill Governor Bush

I like Governor Jeb Bush. I voted for him (once) and had the pleasure of meeting him just a few weeks ago when my daughter, Jennifer was invited to take part in the Governor's All-Stars program in Tallahassee. I even got her a Gator Basketball National Championship T-shirt to present to him.

But to really have me as a fan for life, all the Governor has to do is sign the law the state legislature passed that would make re-selling tickets legal. That's right! The Governor is in position to make scalping legal!

Basic Question of Property Rights

To me the laws against scalping have always been unconstitutional infringements on our rights. In essence, the state tells you that you can re-sell your car for any amount. You can re-sell your clothing for any amount, but "Big Brother" was going to set the price for the re-sale of your sporting event or concert tickets.

That's just not right. It's none of the government's business what I do with a ticket I lawfully purchased. Any limit on that right is, well, wrong. I suppose it would be okay to require a license for re-selling tickets as a way of getting some tax revenue from the transaction. And I don't really mind a ban on selling within 100 yards of a facility or some other reasonable restrictions. I just have a problem with the state limiting what I can sell the ticket for when there are no such limits on the promoters selling the ticket to me.

"Face Value" Rules Part of the Issue

One of the parts of the bill making its way through the Senate was to raise the mark-up rule to 25 percent of face value, but I have a real problem with that. I purchase season tickets for Florida basketball games and the "face value" of the ticket I buy does not reflect the true cost I paid. As almost all of you know schools require booster contributions in order to buy certain game tickets. That contribution for hoops is not all that much --- it amounts to about $15 per ticket per game. So, my $12 ticket actually cost me $27 bucks. I should be allowed to sell that ticket for ten bucks or a hundred.

The reason for that face value shell game is the tax deductibility of ticket purchases versus the tax deductibility of booster "contributions." Schools raise more money because supports can write off a portion of their contribution. That's more lucrative than writing off a portion of the ticket as a "business entertainment" cost. Trust me, I've done both.

Ticket buying citizens should not have to choose between "eating" an extra ticket, selling it at a loss or breaking the law. While there are some systems for donating unused/unneeded tickets to various causes, there's no compensation for such transactions. But I believe if re-selling tickets was a straightforward and legal process more tickets would end up in the hand of fans who can only afford a few games rather than ending up in a waste basket.

Challenging the Other View

I know there are arguments in favor of scalping laws, so let's address a couple of them.

There are those who say scalpers would buy all the tickets in advance and average fans would be priced out of the arena. Balderdash! Scalpers don't have the kind of $$$ to spend that much up front money, in part because they like doing their business "off the books." It is the responsibility of the promoter, be it Jeremy Foley or the Ice Capades to ensure adequate supplies get into the hands of the rank and file fan base.

Sure, scalpers will be more in the open and more active if/when their activity is legal, but I think that will actually drop some prices overall. It's simply a matter of supply and demand. The more people re-selling tickets the lower the prices will be.

Another argument is that the atmosphere around an even would be spoiled by dozens and dozens of ticket sellers. While I understand the point, have you been outside The Swamp before a September game against a crummy opponent? Trust me, there are hundreds of people selling tickets and yet nobody has turned into a pillar of salt.

Let the Student Play, Too!

University students who pay for their game tickets should be treated just like anyone else. I have no problem with the school deciding those who get in for free cannot "give" their space to a non-student. But if they take your money, there should be no limit on what you can do with your ticket. Special student-only sections are not the same as free student-only areas.

In fact, it's a good lesson in the laws of supply and demand for the student to go through as they try to acquire tickets and decide for themselves what it is worth to give up that seat. Sure, everyone likes it when the students are really amped up for the game, but again, it's about fairness and equity. If you are willing to sell that spot for a certain price, you've gotten your money and the kid in question should have the right to use the ticket for whatever purpose they deem appropriate,

So sign it Governor ... Momma needs a new dress!

Fightin Gators Top Stories