Outside the Lines:
Tickets for (re)sale


Here's the transcript from Show 128 of weekly Outside The Lines - Tickets for (re)sale

SUN., SEPT. 8, 2002
Host: Bob Ley
Reporter: Tom Farrey
Guests: Eric Baker, president of LiquidSeats; Paul Viollis, counter-terrorism expert; George Zollinger, president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority

BOB LEY, HOST- September 8, 2002. The New England Patriots have it all, the Super Bowl trophy and a brand-new stadium. But this long-time Patriots fan has lost his season tickets.

JOHN REIS, PATRIOTS FAN- I literally broke into tears. I was -- I was -- I was shaking.

LEY- With thousands of NFL seats auctioned online, he tried to sell his tickets to one game. The Patriots revoked his seats.

DAN GOLDBERG, PATRIOTS ATTORNEY- We actually have gotten a lot of fan support for this decision.

REIS- For a fan, that's the death penalty. You can't do anything more to me than take my season tickets.

LEY- Also this week -- Security is enhanced, but are fans at NFL games really terrorist targets?

GEORGE ZOFFINGER, PRESIDENT & CEO, NEW JERSEY SPORTS AUTHORITY- Since 9/11, all the rules have really changed.

LEY- Some teams are patting down every fan who enters a game.

PATRICK MANTEIGA, TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY- You're asking a lot to allow me to allow my wife and my children to be patted down by total strangers.

LEY- Today on Outside The Lines -- For NFL fans a touchy situation at the turnstile, and the battle over reselling NFL tickets.

On this first Sunday of the NFL regular season, consider this half hour a fan's guide to the latter-day world of pro football, from the ticket in your hand to what you might encounter at the turnstile. Both are very much related to the times in which we live.

First, the tickets. It's forever been a rule of thumb on the street there are always tickets to be had if you're willing to pay. The internet makes that truer than ever. Thousands of tickets to National Football League games are available on internet auction sites, some from those always enterprising ticket brokers but a large number from private sellers. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have a paid season ticket waiting list of 50,000 hopefuls, and that gives you a sense of the devotion to this team and how devastating it is when one fan was booted from the 50-yard line to the end of that waiting list. It's a story reported by ESPN.com's Tom Farrey.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER- Vinatieri's field goal try for the win! It's good! It's good! It's good!

BOB KRAFT, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS OWNER- The fans of New England have been waiting 42 years for this day!

TOM FARREY, OUTSIDE THE LINES- When New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft talks about the team's "real fans," he's talking about guys like John Reis.

REIS- I'm a fan. And it goes back -- I mean, I've been a season ticket holder 18 years, but it probably goes back 25 years.

FARREY- A former cop from Providence, Rhode Island, Reis has a room full of Patriots pictures, autographs, bobble-head dolls and other keepsakes.

Does your wife think you're nuts?

REIS- Oh, my wife thinks I'm crazy. On our wedding day 13 years ago, they were playing the San Francisco 49ers, and I had my best man carry a hand-held television, sneak it in. And he had it kept under the head table.

FARREY- But even super-fans have their limits. This year, he promised his wife that he would skip one home game to celebrate their October anniversary. She put his three 50-yard-line seats at the new Gillette Stadium -- face value $99 -- up for auction on eBay. That's when his world came crashing down.

REIS- And this came just two days after this eBay auction ended, and it says very briefly, "Dear Mr. John Reis -- This letter shall serve as official notice that your New England Patriots season ticket account has been terminated effective immediately." No hearing. "You recently placed your three account tickets for the October 13th game against the Green Bay Packers on eBay for auction. The tickets went for $851 at the close of auction. This resale of tickets is strictly against Patriots policy."

I literally broke into tears. For a fan, that's the death penalty. You can't do anything more to me than take my season tickets.

FARREY- Reis had run smack dab into the Patriots resolve to eliminate the resale of their tickets. A long-standing policy prohibiting that practice is printed on the back of every ticket. New language was added this year specifying that internet sales are included in that policy.

In fact, the Patriots feel so strongly about cracking down that they say they spend $5,000 a week buying back their own tickets, trying to identify the original owners. One club official told Outside The Lines that the club revoked 300 season ticket accounts last year alone.

GOLDBERG- That's part of the Kraft family's effort to make games more fan-friendly, more family-friendly and to try to keep games affordable for folks, so that there won't be a profit motive involved in people having season tickets.

FARREY- But Reis says it was an innocent one-time error.

I mean, you got a law enforcement background.

REIS- Yes.

FARREY- It says right on the ticket you cannot sell these tickets to someone else.

REIS- Now, I'll throw a question back to you. When's the last time you read the back of a ticket? That's number one. I mean, you know, it's got 8,000 words on the back of it.

FARREY- Reis wrote a letter to Mark Briggs, the Patriots official who had revoked his tickets. Reis offered to pay a fine, even donate his tickets to charity. Eventually, he was granted a meeting with Briggs, so he and his lawyer, Sean McAteer, made the 45-minute drive up to Foxboro.

SEAN MCATEER, REIS' ATTORNEY- At exactly noontime, Mr. Briggs emerges from some inner office. He's a little guy. My client stands up.

REIS- I said, "Mr. Briggs, my name's John Reis. Pleasure to meet you."

MCATEER- They shake hands. I stand up, at that point. "Hi. I'm attorney Sean McAteer." That's as far as I get.

REIS- He just about gets "Teer" out of his mouth, and Briggs says, "Good-bye!" as he's reaching over, grabs my badge, pulls it off my shirt, and says, "This meeting's over."

MCATEER- Then two security guards appear on either side of us, and we're escorted out of the stadium.

FARREY- The presence of a lawyer seemed to set Briggs off, but he would see more lawyers in the weeks to come. After realizing that his shirt had been torn by Briggs, Reis filed battery charges with police, and he sued Briggs and the Patriots, demanding that his tickets be returned.

REIS- Because it's not a consistent policy, and people don't know about it. And that's why we can go up and find 236 items of people selling Patriots tickets.

FARREY- The secondary market for event tickets is a $10 billion business, and it's not just fans selling over the internet. It's scalpers and well-known brokers who for years have been selling tickets for prices far in excess of face value.

GOLDBERG- The Patriots have sought to have that enforced so that ticket agents are not able to do that.

FARREY- Yet ticket brokers don't seem too concerned about breaking those rules. Posing as fans, we called several brokers in the Providence area. The following exchange was typical.

Hi. I'm interested in Patriots tickets. Do you have any available?


FARREY- That's for this Monday night game?


FARREY- And what are those going for?


FARREY- And what's the face value on them?


FARREY- And are the Patriots OK with this?

UNIDENTIFIED TICKET BROKER- As far as I know. They haven't told me anything about it.

GOLDBERG- If they are violating state law by doing so, then they're subject to the risk that they run for doing that. It is not something that the Patriots authorize and the Patriots do. It's not a question of selective enforcement.

REIS- Oh, it's an extreme double standard because they're selling tickets for $700, $800, $900.

FARREY- That's partly why Reis says he rejected the Patriots offer last month of giving him season tickets in the end zone.

REIS- It's a strong matter of principle now. They're Super Bowl champions because of people like me, because I bought $600 flags, because I bought $150 footballs and $99 tickets.

FARREY- So he marched into federal court on Friday, arguing that he would be irreparably harmed if he couldn't get his seats back before the Monday night opener against Pittsburgh. But after a private meeting, the judge denied his motion, saying Reis' argument "misses the uprights." She said he could still purchase tickets to the game.

REIS- So she wants me to go to a ticket broker and pay maybe $400, $500, $600 for a ticket.

FARREY- You'll never give him his ticket back.

GOLDBERG- I don't see that happening.

FARREY- Reis vows to fight on, hoping for a reprieve from perhaps the one man who can grant it.

REIS- You know what? I think he's my only hope, to be honest with you, that again I get some kind of courtesy for 18 years of loyal season ticket holding.

LEY- John Reis has already spent about $3,000, his ticket refund from Patriots, pursuing his case. And while hearings are scheduled later this month, he's not sure that even should he eventually win, he could now afford to buy tickets. Reis will be going to tomorrow night's game. He bought a ticket for face value from a friend.

Joining us to talk about the murky world of tickets is Eric Baker, the president of LiquidSeats. He joins us this morning from Los Angeles.

Eric, explain to me how I can log onto eBay at this moment, there are 3,000-plus NFL seats and NFL offers available, and this guy has his seat taken away by the Patriots. I --the word "murky" is what I used to describe tickets. That's pretty accurate here, isn't it?

ERIC BAKER, PRESIDENT OF LIQUIDSEATS- Well, absolutely, Bob. As you know and as your piece noted, in the secondary or resale market, there's a variety of different laws from state to state, and in the majority of states, you can resell. But where you can do it, how you can do it -- sometimes that can be tricky. And more importantly, as it's highlighted in this case, team policy sometimes varies. And historically, fans are left either go taking out a classified ad, trying to go to eBay or trying to go to a parking lot and resell their tickets. And folks are really unsure of what they can and can't do.

What you're seeing today now, with the advent of technology and the internet, which really can empower fans and season ticket holders, is not only, you know, the empowerment to go direct vis-a-vis eBay, but a lot of teams are really solving this problem of murkiness and a non-uniform system by setting up their own systems to create a legal, efficient, safe way to trade tickets. For example, the New York...

LEY- But at face value, though. That's the question. Are they reselling these at face?

BAKER- Well, it depends on the state, really, for what the policy is, Bob. In a majority...

LEY- So teams can resell at over face if -- if they -- if the state laws permit.

BAKER- Well, let's -- two important things, Bob. One is that it's not the team reselling the ticket, it's the season ticket holder. As you saw from the piece, Mr. Reis was going out on vacation for his anniversary. So it's always the season ticket holder or fan who's reselling the ticket, in that case. Secondly, in the majority of states, like California, you can allow people to resell over face. However, in New York, where there are price restrictions, the Jets are letting people sell at face value to members of the wait list.

LEY- So the internet has revolutionized this entire world of tickets?

BAKER- Oh, no question. I think, historically, as you say, Bob, it's been a murky area, an area where fans don't know if they're doing something illegal. They might be uncomfortable, at best. But now you can really set up a system where fans and the team can be on the same page. Both can benefit. And hopefully, you avoid problems like what we have here today, where you have a loyal season ticket holder at loggerheads with the team he loves.

LEY- Recognizing that you work in this technology area but not many teams are doing this, what would your advice be to a fan who wants to buy a seat now to an NFL game on the secondary market? Broker, internet, what?

BAKER- Well, I think, first off, you've got to be very clear in understanding what your team's policy is, and you might want to call your team and clarify that. Obviously, sometimes it's just on the back of the ticket, and that's a pretty difficult thing to read or to know that you need to look at.

Secondly, I think I would urge a season ticket holder to make clear to the team that they are loyal fans -- people are not trying to profiteer but rather they're trying to make sure their tickets don't go to waste -- and ask their team if there is an alternative or if they do have a system like the Jets do. Short of that, if you're in a state or with a team where it's a fine policy, once you've checked it out, I think you can go ahead and check out eBay or call a ticket broker.

LEY- All right. Or stand on the corner, like a lot of folks have been doing for decades and decades.

Eric Baker, thanks a great deal. We appreciate it.

BAKER- Thank you, Bob.

LEY- Next up -- Even if you've got a ticket to the game, the security you face will vary from game to game. Should every fan be patted down?

PATRICK MANTEIGA, TAMPA SPORTS AUTHORITY- If we do it for a football game, then we should do it for every county commission meeting, every city council meeting. When our kids go to school, are we going to pat them down? I mean, is this what we want American society to be like, and for what reason?

LEY- Minutes before kick-off Thursday at Giants Stadium, fans lined up for a pat down that's now required before being admitted. The tug-of-war between personal liberties and the greater safety has been raging since last September 11th. At National Football League games, the question for fans is as basic as should you be patted down before passing into the stadium? There is no one answer.

STADIUM ANNOUNCER- Due to the high level of security for this event, we encourage all guests to enter the stadium as early as possible to avoid delays.

LEY- But no one was in a hurry to get patted down Thursday night at Giants Stadium. Tailgating trumped the war on terrorism. The lines were longer at the portable toilets than at security checkpoints.

This year, there was food. Last year, there was fear.

MAYA CRUZ, GIANTS FAN- I was at the Dallas-Jets game last year -- I'm sorry. It was the Dallas-Giants game. And that was in October, and I was petrified. Every time a plane drove over, and they all were starting to come back and cut their path to Newark Airport, I was so afraid. And I couldn't even pay attention to the game. And that was a great game.

ZOFFINGER- Since 9/11, all the rules have really changed. And one of the things that we instituted last year and will continue to do this year is that every patron that comes into the stadium will be patted down.

LEY- But that's the case at only two NFL stadiums, in New England and here for the Jets and the Giants.

DAVE HALL, GIANTS FAN- I guess I'm used to it now, since after last year, going through a season that was pretty much full of it. It's all right.

KERRIE BRENNAN, GIANTS FAN- Last year, I was a little nervous coming after September 11th, but seeing all the security and having them pat everyone down made me feel a lot safer, knowing that, you know, hopefully, if anybody had something, they would have been able to find it.

ZOFFINGER- So the NFL itself has looked at Giants Stadium, and they said that our efforts are at the top of the charts, in terms of various stadiums around the country.

LEY- In Tampa, the Buccaneers were hoping to upgrade their game-day screening of fans.

MICKEY FARRELL, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, TAMPA STADIUM AUTHORITY- Well, the Buccaneers, oh, probably about a month ago, asked us to reconsider the patdown procedure for their upcoming season. They want to do a full-body patdown, basically, from the ankles up to the head. And that would entail, obviously, touching various parts of the body.

MANTEIGA- You're asking a lot to allow me to allow my wife and my children to be patted down by total strangers.

LEY- Patrick Manteiga is a member of the Tampa Bay Sports Authority that operates Raymond James Stadium. As the governing board debated the issue three weeks ago, Manteiga questioned the propriety of patting down every Buccaneers fan.

MANTEIGA- And frankly, I just don't want to live in a community where we ask our women and children to spread their legs and raise their arms to be patted down so that they can see a football game. I think that's a little bit extreme.

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTS AUTHORITY MEMBER- You know, I've gotten many calls from mostly ladies, and they feel the same way that I've heard people say, a patdown for ladies is not what they would like to do.

UNIDENTIFIED SPORTS AUTHORITY MEMBER- I think it's very inappropriate to conduct patdowns for our fans at the football games.

SPORTS AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN- Is there a motion? Patrick?

MANTEIGA- Yes, I'll make a motion. I motion that we do not do patdowns for the 2002-2003 season.


MANTEIGA- Got a second.

SPORTS AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN- Any other discussion? All those in favor of Mr. Manteiga's motion, say aye.


SPORTS AUTHORITY CHAIRMAN- Those opposed say nay?

LEY- So Buccaneer fans will not be patted down this season, a decision scorned by some Giants fans just eight miles from Ground Zero.

THURMAN BRIDGERS, GIANTS FAN- You know, these very same people need to come to lower Manhattan, you know? And I work in lower Manhattan, OK? I do a lot of work there. They need to come to lower Manhattan and see what's going on there before they make statements like that.

EILEEN SCHLEY, GIANTS FAN- Maybe they're just a little farther back from the situation than we are, so they don't really understand what we went through.

MANTEIGA- If we do it for a football game, then we should do it for every county commission meeting, every city council meeting. When our kids go to school, are we going to pat them down? I mean, is this what we want American society to be like, and for what reason? Security should not come at this high a cost.

LEY- Most NFL stadiums are not patting down fans this season. An Outside The Lines survey found that aside from the mandatory patdowns at the Meadowlands and in New England, only about one third of the NFL's other facilities will be subjecting fans to even random patdowns this year.

Let's now bring in Paul Viollis. He's a counterterrorism expert, a managing director of Citigate Global Intelligence and Security. He is in Melbourne, Florida. And George Zoffinger is president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates the Meadowlands. He is in Montgomery Township, New Jersey. Gentlemen, good morning.

George, what are the patdowns, in a practical sense -- what are they accomplishing?

ZOFFINGER- Well, from my standpoint, we really want our fans to be safe, and we're going to do everything we can to make them safe. And just as an example, Thursday night, where you had your video, we actually found a pen that had a knife in it. We had a cigarette lighter that had a knife in it. We had a number of other things that could be used as weapons. We're trying to be unobtrusive in terms of the way we do the patdowns, but we think it's very important to keep our fans safe.

LEY- All right, Paul, same question to you. What's being accomplished?

PAUL VIOLLIS, MANAGING DIR. OF SECURITY SERVICES, CITIGATE GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY- I agree with George 100 percent. Patdowns are an extremely useful tool in the full security package that's being implemented throughout stadiums today. Now, clearly, some are done with more efficiency and thoroughness than others, but regardless, it is still a very useful tool.

LEY- Well, let me -- let me show you guys some video. We'll first look at a patdown at the Super Bowl last year, with the heightened security around the biggest sporting event in America. This patdown takes a total of 19 seconds. And as we move towards the other piece of video here, the patdown we saw the other evening at the Meadowlands took approximately two or three seconds.

So Paul, what's accomplished with an inconsistent patdown like that?

VIOLLIS- Well, you know, I think what it is, Bob, is that the first patdown at the Super Bowl clearly is more thorough, but still, it -- you can't take away from the fact that you are still providing a much safer environment from the patdowns that were conducted at Giants Stadium the other day, departing from the fact that if you didn't do them. So clearly, it is still good to do them.

ZOFFINGER- Hey, Bob, can I add, too, that the patdown is really just one small part of the increased security efforts that we've had since 9/11. 9/11 has changed things, and as one of your fans said, you know, Giants Stadium, you have a view of where the World Trade Center used to stand. And we have a number of things, like bomb-sniffing dogs, increased police activity. Plus, we have a lot of behind-the-scenes activity that people don't even see that...

LEY- Well, George, can I ask you...

LEY- What's your security perimeter around a stadium like that? What can you tell me about that?

ZOFFINGER- Well, we have a 24,000-space parking area, and we have perimeter fencing around the entire stadium that is monitored 24/7 every day of the year. We also have pretty sophisticated behind-the-scenes video-type things that make sure that our fans are safe because we monitor it consistently.

LEY- Well, Paul, this is part of the so-called "war on terrorism," and this is a sophisticated group of people the United States is said to be fighting.

VIOLLIS- Certainly.

LEY- They hijacked four airplanes on the same day and committed the atrocities. You can go on the internet and read about security procedures. Is that counterproductive?

VIOLLIS- Absolutely. There's absolutely -- there's certainly no reason for anyone to be advertising the security measures they're taking. I think George just touched on that, and he said, you know, there are certain things that he can't discuss, and he shouldn't discuss them. These are things that are put into place, they're controls that are put into place to provide the fans with a safe environment, and there's no reason to be advertising them.

And along those same lines, Bob, it should be really understood by the American people that we are, you know, in a very serious situation right now, and as most people and businesses make decisions on a return on their investment, so do terrorists. So if you can embrace the fact that negative behavior migrates to the path of least resistance, then you can clearly understand that...

ZOFFINGER- That's right.

VIOLLIS- ... people such as those folks at Giants Stadium where George is at, they've hardened that target. People at another stadium that have not embraced these types of controls are wide open for an attack.

LEY- But knowing what you know about counterterrorism, Paul, to what extent, given the mindset of the people this war is against -- to what extent would NFL stadiums and fans be targets?

VIOLLIS- I wouldn't say that it's a primary target, Bob. But is it -- does it certainly make an attractive target? Well, absolutely, just because of the tremendous media coverage that it would get and the fear that it would instill in the American public and the reluctance to return back to various stadiums and arenas and really more or less just detracting and taking away from that peace of mind that I think some people have been able to return to. That's what makes it a very strong target.

ZOFFINGER- And Bob, what he -- what Paul just said is so true. I mean, what we want to do is we want to be a difficult place for something to happen. We realize we can't protect ourselves against everything, but we want to make it more difficult. And if we do that, we're doing our job.

LEY- Well, George, what would you say to the folks...

VIOLLIS- That's absolutely right.

LEY- ... in Tampa? What would you say to the people who run that stadium, the way you run Giants Stadium? They voted overwhelmingly not to pat down.

ZOFFINGER- I would say that we found weapons that -- you know, that shouldn't be in stadiums in our trash can before the patdowns and on people when they tried to go through the patdowns. That alone tells you that -- you know, that we should be a little bit more diligent in terms of what we do to protect our fans.

LEY- Gentlemen, thank you very much. Thanks to Paul Viollis and to George Zoffinger. Thanks for joining us this morning.

VIOLLIS- Thank you. It's a pleasure.

LEY- All right. Next up...

ZOFFINGER- Thank you.

LEY- ... baseball did the deal at the brink, and we'll have your email reactions to what it means to the game and to the fans.

LEY- Last week's look at baseball's done deal found precious little celebration in our email in box. A viewer from Wilmington, North Carolina, writes, "Gregg Zaun and John Burkett talked about how they made all the concessions in averting a strike and how they did it for the fans. Hello? You did it for yourselves. If you want to do something for the fans, come down of Mount Ego and quit treating us like we're stupid," end quote.

And from Holiday, Florida, "Hey, Baseball, I suggest you begin working on the 2006 collective bargaining agreement now."

Check us out on line, keyword OTLWeekly at ESPN.com. We've got transcripts and streaming video of our Sunday morning programs, and we look forward to your feedback on tickets for resale and patdowns and stadium security. Our address, otlweekly@espn.com.

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