Big Blue Madness tickets illegally sold on eBay, Craigslist

Fans set up tents outside of Memorial Coliseum to camp for Big Blue Madness tickets the morning of on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. Photo by Latara Appleby | Staff

By Les Johns | @KernelJohns
ljohns@kykernel.com

Log on Lexington Craigslist this week and you can find an ink pen for $250, a rubber band for $300, an envelope for $125 or a paper clip for $280.

The reason why office supplies are more valuable than gold? They are all being packaged with Big Blue Madness tickets.

Hundreds of tickets to the Cats’ marquee preseason event that were given to the general public for free are now being sold on secondary market sites such as eBay and Craigslist.

There have been more than 900 tickets sold on eBay, with total sales in excess of $64,000. Big Blue Madness tickets have put on sale in more than 600 postings on Craigslist since they were distributed at Memorial Coliseum and Ticketmaster.com on Sept. 22 at 7 a.m.

Completed sale prices on eBay vary, largely dependent upon seat location and quantity of tickets. A single ticket in the corner of the rafters, section 211, row CC, sold for $5. A set of four front-row tickets on the floor (section 22) sold for $500.

Selling tickets in excess of the price initially charged for the ticket is considered scalping and is illegal, according to Kentucky Revised Statute 518.070.

It isn’t a violation that Lexington police are going out of their way to enforce.

“That isn’t something we get into at the Division of Police — not just Big Blue Madness, but any ticketed event,” said Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts. “We don’t have the resources to get involved with something like that. They focus on events where officers can physically see tickets being sold and apprehend violators.”

Fayette County Attorney Larry Roberts said he was unaware this was an ongoing issue.

“Theoretically that would be a violation,” Roberts said after reading the statute. “But it would pose a difficult jurisdictional problem.”

StubHub.com, a leading secondary-market ticket retailer, does not offer Big Blue Madness tickets on its site.

“Because tickets are free, StubHub is not offering tickets to the Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena,” is the message displayed when StubHub users search for tickets.

There is clearly a demand for tickets, however. Some fans, such as Daniel Fitzpatrick from Somerset, Ky., have posted ads on Craigslist searching for affordable tickets.

“Everybody is selling them way too high right now. $200 for a lower-arena ticket — that’s stupid,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve never paid more than $100 for a good ticket.”

He was on his computer at 7 a.m. when tickets went on sale at Ticketmaster.com, but he was unable to purchase them.

“You have to be very lucky to get them on Ticketmaster, and I haven’t been lucky the last several years,” Fitzpatrick said. “They are impossible to get online.”

He said he thinks prices will go down as the event gets closer and is happy that people are able to buy and sell them relatively easy.

“It’s good. If people are willing to pay that, more power to them,” Fitzpatrick said.

The Kernel attempted to talk to several eBay and Craigslist users via the websites, most of whom declined to comment, about the tickets they had for sale.

Clay from Lexington, who would not give his last name and who has a paper clip (along with four Big Blue Madness tickets) on sale on Craigslist for $280, said he camped out for two nights and planned to attend the event until a scheduling conflict occurred.

“If this (selling them) don’t work, I will just give them away for a friend,” he said. “I do know that more people were at the campout to resell the tickets than to actually attend the event.”

UK Athletics spokesman DeWayne Peevy was surprised so many tickets have been put up for sale on the Internet.

“It’s disappointing. It is kind of surprising to me that some people that go through the process of camping out are putting those tickets online for sale,” Peevy said. “I would rather they just give them to another fan for free — let them enjoy the moment.”

Peevy encouraged fans not to sell or buy tickets online.

“This is a special, pure event that is free to our fans,” Peevy said. “I would love for our fans to keep it that way, and not sell them themselves — or better yet, how about the fans not buy them from the people that put them on sale online?”

Each camper this year could receive four Madness tickets, instead of two in previous years.

“Maybe that changes in the future to where we keep it at two tickets (per person), so you don’t have two tickets (for yourself) and then two to sell,” Peevy said. “The sad part of that is that it limits the people that really want to come. I don’t think there is a perfect way to do it.”

“It does so much good, that it is worth a little heartache. It’s (the ticket sales) something we don’t condone and we wish wasn’t happening.”

Peevy said that the passion for the team exhibited by the fans at the campouts is unique to UK.

“It’s something different and unique to this place. It is something this administration wants to maintain,” Peevy said. “We could easily move it all online in some lottery form and still have a packed house, but this is something we do special here that can’t be duplicated every other place.”

Are overpriced office supplies also unique to Lexington?

“Everybody knows we’re not buying the rubber band,” Fitzpatrick said.

Also, Police have to observe the person selling the ticket over the marked value. So unless a “ticket scalper” sees to a police officer then there is NO way to enforce this.

Also, both Lexington Police and UK Police have charged hundreds of people in the past for these offenses of ticket scalping. They are mostly thrown out by the Judge or district attorney because there is usually no victim.

To the earlier posting. How exactly do you expect the police to enforce this? Ticket Scalping is only a violation in Kentucky, about the same as a speeding ticket. No Judge in the country will issue a warrant for a ticket scalping violation. If you or someone else is upset then file a criminal complaint at the county attorneys office.

I agree that it is a terrible thing that people scooped up these tickets just to make money. When fans like my daughter and I, who live out of state, try to obtain tickets on that Sat. morning at 7am for an hour for the last number of years. With the tickets being distributed for free it makes attending the UK Big Blue Madness available to ALL fans. IF indeed a person received the tickets by camping out, then can’t attend due to a legitimate schedule conflict then why in the world ask $280 for the tickets!! I wish there were a fair way of distributing the tickets. One guy on ebay had several sets of four tickets and told me either I was too stupid to get the tickets or my computer was a snail since he had obtained so many. May daughter and I are going to Lexington for BBM even though we did not get the tickets just to experience the atmosphere of the event. GO BIG BLUE!

Funny how the police will admit that they have no plans to monitor ticket scalping or do anything at all about it, BUT they can’t wait to give you a senseless $150+ ticket for going 1 mile over the limit, or “following too closely” when they are the reason for a bottleneck of cars in the first place, or a $299 ticket for jaywalking. Not kidding. Lexington police are a joke, and in this article, their spokesperson was foolish enough to admit it. What a bunch of collective idiots!