Charlotte is getting ready to host the biggest sporting event in city history, the NBA All-Star Game. While getting tickets to its premier game is tough for anyone who is not well-connected in the NBA, there will be plenty of fraudsters trying to sell tickets to fans desperate to get into the event Feb. 17.
This includes everyone from scalpers on the street peddling counterfeit tickets to online vendors pushing scam tickets. It’s something the NBA sees every year during the All-Star Game, according to Mike Potenza, the league’s vice president of intellectual property and assistant general counsel.
The NBA’s legal department is working with local law enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the N.C. Secretary of State to identify counterfeiters, Potenza said.
One thing they often see is scammers creating fake websites with generic names like “Charlotte All-Star,” without the NBA in the name, to try to sell fake tickets to the events, Potenza added.
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“The consequence of ... getting a counterfeit ticket means fans unfortunately will be turned away at the door,” Potenza said.
Seating is already limited at the 19,000-seat Spectrum Center for the All-Star Game.
Just over one-third of the tickets to the game go to to the 30 teams, with a disproportionate number going to the Hornets, according to the league. Spectrum Center’s seating capacity is further reduced by roughly 20 percent because of the staging the NBA is setting up, according to Hornets President Fred Whitfield.
The NBA does not sell tickets to the All-Star Game to the general public, which means that any that are on sale on a secondhand market came from NBA affiliated individuals, sponsors or businesses. Sales on the secondary market take place on sites like Stubhub —although the NBA doesn’t guarantee the authenticity of those tickets.
For the tickets to the All-Star Game that are on sale on Stubhub now, the lowest price is $700, according to TicketIQ, which tracks 90 percent of the country’s secondary ticket market. That’s the second most expensive “get-in” price of any All-Star Game in the last decade, TicketIQ spokesman Jesse Lawrence said in an email.
The only official source sells tickets to the NBA All-Star Game and other events like the Celebrity Game is QuintEvents, a Charlotte-based firm that handles VIP ticket bundling for major sporting events like the Kentucky Derby and the Super Bowl.
QuintEvents, which began selling NBA All-Star tickets in 2011, uses inventory of tickets provided by the leagues themselves. That’s how the company can guarantee the authenticity of the tickets and the security of the transactions. Quint Events bundles the tickets with other assets such as hotels, VIP access and on-the-ground travel, then sells the packages for a premium.
QuintEvents has a few hundred ticket packages left in the lower bowl of the Spectrum Center for the All-Star Game, CEO Brian Learst said.
The packages range from $999 to about $3,700, Learst said. The ticket packages are available online and through QuintEvents’ hotline: 866-619-3373.
“The easiest way to determine whether someone is authentic or not ... if you go directly to NBA site, we’re the only company linked directly to them. If someone says they’re legit and they’re not linked, they’re not legit,” Learst said.
“There are all kinds of ways to get ripped off.”
The Better Business Bureau consulted with other NBA cities that have hosted the All-Star Game, including New Orleans, to issue some guidance this week about how to avoid getting scammed. Some advice includes: Researching the seller/broker, buying only from trusted vendors, knowing the refund policy and using payment methods that come with protection.
“For folks looking to buy outside the event, the farther away from the event you are, the higher the risk (of getting scammed),” said Tom Bartholomy, CEO of the BBB of Southern Piedmont and Western North Carolina. “By the time you get your ticket and have it scanned, that (scammer) is long gone.”
Because tickets to the All-Star Game and events Saturday night (like the Dunk Contest and 3-Point Contest) are in such high demand, the NBA has worked to add events throughout the week and weekend to provide fans access to their favorite teams or players.
Last year in Los Angeles, for instance, was the first time Media Day was a ticketed event fans could attend. This year, Media Day is on Saturday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and takes place at Bojangles’ Coliseum. Fans can still buy tickets through the NBA’s website.
“We try to have as many tickets as we can so fans get a chance to see the players,” Potenza said.