Unable to stop the scalpers completely, the owners realize the excess revenue that could be generated by entering and controlling the secondary market for tickets. The owners decide to set up a sham brokerage firm as a subsidiary, then take a bunch of tickets for their team’s home games and sell them to the firm. Fans are told that games are “sold out” but that some tickets may still be available through a “certain” firm. The firm, of the same ownership as the team, then sells the tickets to fans above face value.

This is how the Chicago Cubs scalp their own tickets, and stick it to fans.

In February 2002, the Tribune Company, owners of the Chicago Cubs, incorporated Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services (Premium), “to compete in the profitable business of brokering Cubs baseball tickets.” Premium then began selling (scalping) Cubs tickets above face value. A class action lawsuit soon followed on behalf of irate Cubs fans against the Cubs alleging that the common ownership between the Cubs and Premium violated the Illinois Ticket Scalping Act.

But the court determined that Premium was an independent broker, and that current Illinois law permits this relationship. This despite Premium’s president serving as a vice president of the Cubs, Premium’s office location a block from Wrigley Field on property leased by the Tribune Company, and its books kept by the Cubs’ accounting department.

An appeals court upheld the lower court’s ruling last month, confirming that, in Illinois, a sports team may openly scalp tickets under such a format.

Derek Zumsteg has more, from ESPN’s Page 2.


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