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$40 for a $120 ticket: Knicks at Bulls

16 February 2010 No Comment

With the wife not getting home until late Tuesday night, I attended the Chicago Bulls game versus the New York Knicks.

Pre Game Dining and Parking
I parked on Washington Blvd. in between Wood St. and Wolcott Ave. for free and walked a few blocks to Billy Goat’s Tavern before the game. This one block on Washington Blvd. (two blocks directly north of the United Center) is the only block north of the arena where you can see the United Center with no parking restrictions.

Obtaining Tickets
I did not have a $10 ticket for this game as I have for the other Bulls games I have attended this season. Thus, I needed to buy one from the secondary market. I checked the box office first to see if they had a $10 ticket available but the $10 tickets were sold out. The next price point was $40 so I had a dollar amount to negotiate against.

I ran into a ticket scalper I know, Mimi, and asked if she had a single. She had a three-pack. Since she knows I do not like to pay that much she initially offered me a $120 face value ticket for $50. I said I only wanted to pay $30 (upping my price since I know her) and we eventually agreed on $40.

The Game
The Chicago Bulls walked all over the New York Knicks winning by 33 points (118-85) as Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 29 points. The Bulls matched their largest margin of victory for the season. They defeated the Detroit Pistons 120-87 on January 11 – the last Bulls game I attended at the United Center.

Chicago Bulls Feb 16, 2010

Understanding the Secondary Ticket Market
Ever wondered how the secondary ticket market works outside the arena? Tonight was a perfect example of why tickets from scalpers are so much cheaper than buying from the team directly.

As soon as I sat in my seat, two guys in their 20’s asked me how much I paid for my ticket since they had sold it to the scalper. I told them $40 for the single. They said they sold all three of their tickets for $40 (or $13.33 each). Thus, the scalper bought three $120 face value tickets for a total of $40 – quite the deal.

When I was negotiating with Mimi, she already knew I would not pay a high price, but she held out until I paid $40. I now knew the reason why – she made her money back with one sale and now had two more tickets which she could sell for all profit.

I thought she got stuck with the tickets. But late in the second quarter a family showed up having bought the other two tickets. The two guys wanted to know how much they paid – they said $25 each ($50 total). They had planned to buy tickets from the box office but ran into Mimi before they got there.

Thus, for someone who does not understand why tickets are cheaper on the outside of the arena here is the process of why you can buy tickets for so cheap on the secondary ticket market:

1) The original buyers of the tickets paid full price, but lost $600 (5 tickets x $120 each) by not attending the game.
2) The young guys did not care what they sold the tickets for since they received them for free. $40 is better than nothing but they could have done much better if they sold the tickets on their own rather than through a scalper.
3) I saved $80 off the face value ($40 vs. $120) buying a single from the scalper rather than the Bulls directly.
4) The family who arrived at halftime saved at least $30 and had much better seats since they bought two tickets for $50 rather than two upper level seats for $80 ($40 each).

These ticket transactions are the reasons buying tickets outside the arena is always the best option. Tickets on craigslist.org and StubHub were more expensive for similar seats (but cheaper than buying directly from the Bulls). Even if you do a poor job negotiating you will still save money outside of the arena than buying ahead of time.

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