City considers tougher ticket-scalping regulations

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The city of Indianapolis wants to limit the number of scalpers hawking tickets near sports stadiums and concert venues by requiring them to purchase an annual license.

Members of the City-County Council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee are set to vote on a proposal Wednesday evening. If passed, the full council could consider the measure at its Aug. 15 meeting.

Long unregulated—and legal—in Indianapolis, ticket scalping typically draws dozens of so-called brokers who linger along the streets and sidewalks in front of Conseco Fieldhouse before basketball games and concerts.

But it’s Indianapolis’ hosting of the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium Feb. 5 that prompted city leaders to craft a proposal. An ordinance regulating scalping is a National Football League requirement for any city vying for the game, said Susan Williams, president of the Indiana Sports Corp.

The aim is to protect visitors from buying counterfeit tickets and to reduce the throng of scalpers who can congregate for an event as large as the Super Bowl.

“You see big crowds of people trying to get into venues, and you’ve got scalpers,” Williams said. “It’s really uncomfortable. Some people don’t come downtown except for Colts games, and they’re kind of wigged out [by scalpers].”

Under the proposal, scalpers would need to purchase a yearly license from the city’s Office of Code Enforcement to sell tickets within one mile of a venue.

Annual fees for a license to sell tickets would be $57. Exceptions have been made for those who have permission to resell tickets from the event organizer, or who resell tickets for face value or less.

Inspectors from the Department of Code Enforcement or officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will have the authority to seize unlicensed property, according to the proposal.

City-County Councilor Michael McQuillen, chairman of the Rules and Public Policy Committee, supports the measure.

“When people are approaching a venue, whether it’s a basketball game or football game, we don’t want our visitors being harassed by umpteen different ticket brokers or scalpers,” said McQuillen, a Republican.

McQuillen, a business owner who deals in antiques and collectibles, said he usually favors a person’s right to sell their products freely. But, in the case of scalpers, he thinks there at least needs to be some sort of city control over the practice.

An estimated 150,000 people are expected to visit Indianapolis for the Super Bowl. An ordinance, however, also could limit scalping for the inaugural Big Ten football title game in December, which also will be played at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis will host the conference football championship at least through 2015.

In addition, Indianapolis will host the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament in 2012 and again in 2014 and 2016. Games have been played at Conseco Fieldhouse since 2002.

Indiana Pacers officials haven’t taken a formal position on the proposal, said Greg Schenkel, the team’s vice president of corporate and public relations. Yet, he acknowledged that “you want good business practices no matter who’s selling.”

Officials say most scalpers selling tickets from the street work independently. Larger, more organized brokers, notably national giant StubHub, sell tickets online rather than at the venue.

The convenience of purchasing tickets with a click of a mouse or by mobile phone has led to explosive growth within the industry. Local firms such as SportsEvents LLC have carved out a piece of the market and could benefit from additional sales if the City-County Council passes the ordinance.

The law could drive up ticket prices for some events because organized ticket brokers would face less competition from scalpers.

However, more local regulation would improve the overall reputation of the ticket-brokering industry, said Kyle Kinnett, chief operating officer of SportsEvents.

“There are a handful of guys that you can trust,” he said. “And the other guys are out there trying to feed themselves.”




  • Going too far
    I actually had the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl 2010 In FL. Requiring a license will not stop the frenzy for tickets. We now are making persons get a license to park cars on their private property. Is there no stopping the Mayor and City Council from intruding on the independent spirit and business opportunities of individuals? The tickets for the Super Bowl are hologramed and raised to combat counterfeiting tickets. This fact is well advertised prior to the event. I see no ordinance or law outlawing ticket brokers or Ticket Master or Live Nation from buying up the best tickets for resale. Let's get real people.
  • Protection or Money Grab?
    If you've ever bought a ticket that was a fake, I'm sure you would like to have a license number - against which you could make a complaint or seek restitution. The real question is whether this licensing requirement actually does anything to protect the consumer against fraud. Will the licensee be required to post a performance bond? If it protects the consumer, it's probably a great improvement in preparation for the Super Bowl. If not, this is just a money grab for the city. Caveat Emptor!
  • Reality Check
    I agree, this is a stupid law as it takes away some rights from the people. Please contact the City-County Council’s Rules and Public Policy Committee. Their email addresses are: mike@mikemcquillen.com, jmsanders@msn.com, mgray@indy.gov, rlutz@indy.org, angelamansfield@aol.com, riveraforcouncil@gmail.com, rvaughn@indy.org. I could not find Mr. Bob Cockrum of District 22's email address.
  • Right on, Bill and Joe!
    Both comments are spot on @Joe: The city has their head burried deep into the SuperBowl and not burried into their constituents' needs. @Bill: tHe city wants more regulation just to justify their red-tape machine and they want the $ from licensing. They want their piece of EVERYTHING! They even want to license the parking in folks front yards - even the city could care less about the underservewd neighborhoods.
  • News Release
    Every news release that comes out of the City-County Building between now and next February should come with the following standard introduction: "In preparation for the Super Bowl....."
  • More Regulation
    Creating more laws, regulation and more red tape will solve all our problems - right. I have tickets for Colts, Pacers, IU games and regularly attend the Big Ten Tournament and occasionally have extra tickets to sell. I don't want or need to be restricted or subject to more regulation. If I am not free to sell my tickets as I choose I will be less likely to be a season ticket holder and less likely to attend events. Hey, Kyle Kinnett and Susan Williams the free market really works so stay out of this business and let me be free to sell what I own.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

    2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

    3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

    4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

    5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.