Carolina Panthers playoff tickets sold out in 180 seconds Wednesday, but fans still have another option: buying tickets from the so-called secondary market, where the markup is considerable.
Because the Panthers have struggled in recent years, fans haven’t faced the reality of going into cyberspace and seeing tickets selling for two or three times face value.
But a 5-year-old North Carolina law allows people to sell tickets for more than face value – by definition, scalping – as long as the transaction is made over the Internet, with a guarantee a fan can get their money back if the ticket is a fake.
Selling a ticket for more than $3 above face value on the street is still illegal.
The law had just gone into effect in time for the team’s last playoff game, against the Arizona Cardinals in January 2009.
Five years ago, the NFL had also begun to embrace scalping, allowing fans to sell tickets on their own websites for as much as the market will bear. The Panthers allow fans to sell tickets through its ticket exchange, run by Ticketmaster.
After roughly 7,000 tickets sold out in 3 minutes, some fans said they believed that so-called secondary ticket buyers such as StubHub had snapped up the tickets unfairly when they were sold by Ticketmaster.
Phil Youtsey, director of ticket sales and operations, said in an email to the Observer that the team didn’t do anything differently Wednesday.
“We have sold our tickets through Ticketmaster for over the past 15 years using the same system ... ” Youtsey said. “Ticketmaster is recognized as the world leader in ticket sales (and) has the most equitable system available providing access through phone, internet and outlet distribution points. We also had a ticket limit per order of up to 6 tickets.”
He added: “The secondary market is not controlled by anyone or any single source, in reality and you can check there are probably hundreds of resale sites on the internet.”
Face value for tickets that went on sale Wednesday for the Jan. 12 playoff game were between $61 and $200, not including club seats.
The good news for prospective buyers is that prices are dropping.
The cheapest ticket on StubHub was about $150 Wednesday afternoon, and had dropped to $132 Thursday.
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