If you venture into Central Park late at night and make your way to the the Delacorte Theatre, the open-air home of Shakespeare in the Park, you will see an alarming number of campers. People with dirt-stained faces and canteens and Marmot sleeping bags built for extreme conditions. These aren't vagrants or hobos -- they are the frontline of scalping operations.
New ticket resale laws were enacted by then-governer Eliot Spitzer in 2007, who told New York Newsday: “Our ticket resale laws have needed reform for many years. This is the only market in which the government does not regulate the primary market, the initial price of a product, but then imposes limits on the secondary market, the resale price of the product. This law makes sense because it eliminates resale price controls and lets the free market determine prices.”
But letting the market determine that only the wealthy can enjoy free Shakespeare undermines every fundamental virtue behind the program. There is no telling how widespread the problem is, but there are any number of offers on Craigslist, with the resale price coyly cloaked as a fee for "waiting services" and the like. But this is sort of like a prostitute claiming she is charging for the condoms.
The resellers get awfully cute, too:
I am NOT selling tickets to Shakespeare in the Park......The tickets are free! What you are purchasing are the services of my wife and I aquiring YOUR tickets. We were able to get tickets today and will be enjoying the show....however, as struggling college students, we have decided to do it all over again. We will wait in line from midnight until we have your tickets in hand. The breakdown is this:
Wait time - 13.3 hours @ $9/hr = $119.70
Metro fare - $2.25
Slurpie and Pretzel - $3.05
TOTAL = $125.00
Grand Total = $250.00
Seeing Anne Hathaway in Central Park on the final weekend = Priceless
Please email me with your phone number if interested and we can discuss delivery...etc
No matter what semantic games the resellers play, they are scalping tickets. By taking up spaces in line to obtain tickets that they intend to sell they're denying others the chance to see the show for free as intended. There are people waiting in line behind them who are turned away because of their mercenary actions. At least we have the cold comfort that after all those pretzels and slurpees the scalpers will be left overweight, out of shape and with fat ankles.