City Paper is not for tourists
A buzz about a regular season baseball game! Have we died and gone to Boston?
Last Friday night, before the Cincinnati game, scalpers along Half Street SW SE and outside the main entrance to Nationals Park were already asking fans for extras to tonight’s game. Strasburg’s so huge he’s created a whole new industry: Advance scalping!
And the street vendors were predicting that the cops were going to make their business life miserable.
“It’s going to be martial law down here on Tuesday!” one scalper told me.
The scalping laws in this city are ridiculous. You can be locked up for selling any tickets to any event for any price on public land.
So even if you want to do somebody a solid and unload your unwanted Conan O’Brien ticket for less than the service charge, you can go to jail. But the law smiles upon anybody who gouges the citizenry using online ticket services or auction houses or Craigslist. (As of this morning there were 488 offers for “Strasburg” tickets on DC’s Craigslist. The gougiest CL ad I found was asking for $350.)
If you show up at the game with your tickets, you can give them away legally, but that’s it. Buying from a scalper is not illegal.
And the police do enforce these laws at big events — I saw folks getting shoved to the pavement by undercover MPD officers all around the then-MCI Center during the Washington Capitals’ 1998 playoff run.
Scalpers outside a venue add to the ambiance. And, they provide a public service. Will our public servants take advantage of the Strasburg buzz and ruin some people’s night for no good reason?
I’m betting: Hell, yes, they will.