It has never been harder for a season-ticket holder to enjoy a Broncos game. For regular-season games it’s still a remote possibility, but when it comes to playoff time, you can forget about it.
The problem is technology. In the old days, there was always talk about how much scalpers were getting for tickets, but it was all anecdotal. Nobody knew for sure. The only way to tell was to actually sell your tickets and, if you did that, would you really be running around outside the stadium telling everyone how much you got?
All the jibber-jabber about how much tickets were going for added to the excitement. If the rumor was that tickets for seats just like yours were going for a big price on the tailgate black market, it only added prestige to the event and made you feel good. You could take great pride sitting in $200 seats knowing that you could never sell them for that much.
I tried to sell tickets outside Mile High Stadium once. It takes bigger balls than you think to wave a pair in the air and then quote some ridiculous price to anybody inquiring. I sold mine for face value to the first person to ask and was greatly relieved to do so.
I’ve been on the other end of the messy face-to-face scalping gig, too. We had a long layover in Miami and decided to watch the Marlins lose again to kill time. The announced attendance ended up to be about 4,000 people, which left about 45,000 unwanted tickets for scalpers to unload. I got ours for $10 apiece four blocks from the stadium. As soon as they were in my hand, I wondered if I got ripped off. A block from the stadium, I asked another scalper what his tickets were going for. He said $25. I scoffed. He asked how much I’d give him. With no intention of buying, I haughtily said they weren’t worth $5. A half dozen lingering scalpers took that as an offer to buy. They chased us to the stadium, bidding against one another, lowering their price with each step. I think they would have given us the tickets if I’d only been brave enough to stop.
Now we have StubHub. That’s the online scalper-wannabe’s dream. From the security of their desks, sellers set the price, and buyers at their offices decide if it’s fair. Prices move like on a stock exchange. Anyone can go to the website and see how much tickets in certain sections recently have sold for. And that’s the problem.
Now you know exactly how much it costs you to go to the game. It’s not the face value you originally paid for the tickets anymore. It is the price that the guy who usually sits next to you sold his for yesterday on StubHub.
I think Warren Buffett said about stocks that if you wouldn’t buy a share at the current price, you shouldn’t hold it at that price, either. He’s right, too. In that emotionless Mr. Spock-like analysis, all extraneous factors are ignored. It boils the decision down to a simple choice. In this hand I have a Broncos playoff ticket. In this other hand I have a thousand bucks. Which do you want? I hate it when emotional decisions can be boiled down to simple logic.
I have found the easiest person to lie to on this planet is myself. I paid face value for the ticket. It’s only going to cost me 200 bucks to go to the game. Oh, the deception!
No doubt that the financially astute reader will say something like, “Well, why doesn’t the lunkhead sell tickets to some games in order to pay for the cost of going to the others? He lives in Aspen, for crying out loud. He probably doesn’t want to drive down for every game anyway.”
The problem with that logic is that it’s correct. A season-ticket holder easily can manage to break even or even make a profit in the modern era of technologically juiced scalping. The problem is that it makes the relationship with my beloved Broncos formulaic. Is it for the love of the game or the love of money? What good games must I forgo in order to break even? If I go to this game and they lose, will I have buyer’s remorse?
I miss the old days when all I had to be nervous about was whether they could beat the Patriots.
Roger Marolt is going to the game this week come hell or high water, unless the bid goes to $1,500 a ticket. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.