Before the home opener last Saturday past word started trickling out that the Toronto Police were doing something that most of us had never seen before, namely ticketing scalpers who were plying their trade in Toronto FC tickets close to the stadium on game day.

To my recollection this was the first time that there was ever any significant crackdown. Countless times previously walking to the ground I had passed scalper upon scalper, some even as brazen as being a few feet outside Gate Three in violation of CNE rules (which apply to BMO Field), City by-laws and of course Provincial law. Police Officers were often within hearing distance of the scalpers yet next to nothing was being done to crack down on the illegal activity going on in front of their eyes and ears.

The recently updated Ontario Ticket Speculation Act states the following as law in this province:

Every person who sells or disposes of the ticket at a higher price than that at which it was first issued, or endeavours or offers so to do…or purchases or attempts to purchase tickets with the intention of reselling them at a profit, or purchases or offers to purchase tickets at a higher price than that at which they are advertised or announced to be for sale…is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $5,000

As well there are City by-laws and CNE rules that are contravened each time a scalper is allowed by authorities to continue what they do. And if these recent reports are to be believed there has been a significant change taking place recently in TFC club policy in regards to scalping. The “crackdown” must be happening at the behest of the TFC front office as nothing else significant would have changed to explain why the Police suddenly started enforcing a law that they ignored hundreds of times previously.

Now why should you care about all this you might ask? You might already have your season seats secured. You might already be set for the season and beyond. You might not have ever bought a seat from a ticket tout before and never plan to.

supply & demandHere is why you need to care.

One of the dirty little secrets that corporations like MLSE will never talk about publicly, is that it is sometimes beneficial to them when the seats to their teams are scalped and fans end up paying higher than face value prices.

It is simple supply and demand. Scalpers create an artificial scarcity of tickets that end up invariably driving up the price that consumers end up paying to attend. Furthermore it creates a higher price ceiling within the marketplace that often makes it easier to justify raising the face value of tickets in future years.

If for example a fan is often paying a scalper say $50  for a $25 face value seat in one year then if the face value price is raised to say $40 next year they are likely to not complain too much. As well a scalped ticket must invariably be a “hot ticket” in the minds of many customers as well.

However this scenario only applies if tickets are scarce. If tickets are available at face value through the club then scalpers only end up selling seats to potential customers that have already been sold, doing nothing to help the club move seats that have not already been purchased. And we all know that tickets to TFC games are no longer “scarce”.

When TFC has tickets to sell scalpers suddenly become the enemy. And without a doubt there are tickets still available. Ticketmaster today for example showed me eight seats in a row available in section 222 that are still available for purchase for Saturday’s match versus Chivas.

In my opinion scalpers are going to remain the “enemy” for a while. With the club likely expected to have a fight on its hands to make the playoffs this season there are going to be challenges ahead in selling TFC tickets. And getting rid of scalpers near the stadium and encouraging fans to walk up and purchase their seats at face value from the club ensures that everyone but the scalpers wins.

And if the scalpers lose that is fine by me!

Whether Toronto FC are taking this action for the right reason or not to me is irrelevant. It is the end result that matters. That they are doing it is a good thing that they should be applauded for.


What do you think? Your comments are always welcome and appreciated.




  1. As someone who officially complained about a scalper getting right in my face last season (and i mean RIGHT in my face) I applaud this action whether taken by TFC, TPS or a combination of the two ……

    now if only we could get GO Transit to complain about them using their land too the cordon could be widened … I was told last year that TFC could only take action or ask for action to be taken on the land surrounding BMO that was under their control. Once you are further away, or on GO Transit land then there is nothing they can do or complain about.

  2. I like this course of action.

    I also think that TFC should print the PAID price on tickets and not the fabricated face value.

    A lot of people don’t know that season ticket holders do not pay what is printed on the ticket. They pay far less. And this is the sole reason why scalpers sell “below the box office” – they are still making money.

    Example. My tickets for last Saturday cost me about $19 as a STH. The printed price was $40. So if I’m a scalper, I can sell that ticket for half the printed value and still be making a buck.

    Transparency is what people want. Put the real prices on the ticket. And get the scalpers OUT.
    Hey, if they did it down on York Street, maybe I’d actually go see a Leaf game.

  3. “That they are doing it is a good thing that they should be applauded for.”

    I’m all for this, but I will not thank or applaud the ‘front office’ of TFC or ML$E for this action. Too little too late! When its hitting their pocket book, and it will do so more into the future, then they give a F**K!

    When it was driving up demand and letting them charge increasingly inflated prices for their tickets at the fans expense, they turned a blind eye.

    IMO the main reason TFC is cracking down, which you alluded to but didn’t explicitly state, is that this year a lot of season ticket holders would have seen the ever increasing availability of cheap tickets, and feel the increased difficulty of being able to sell their tickets when unable to attend games. This will result in more people dropping their seasons coming into 2012 as the average fan will begin to buy on a per game basis and probably save money in the long run.

    They’re only cracking down to avoid further errosion of their Season Ticket Holder base. Such a noble cause isn’t it? Where the hell were you (ML$E) 4 years ago when I was paying $80 for $25 dollar seats?

  4. theirishembassy

    at the last game of the seasons i lodged a formal complaint with security at BMO field due to an issue i had with a scalper when i was trying to sell one of my tickets. two of my friends couldn’t make it to the game, and on such short notice i tried to sell my ticket at the stadium. being an idiot, i ran up to a scalper only to be told my ticket was worth $5, “take it or leave it”. funny thing was. as i was walking away he mentioned to two guys that the cheapest ticket he had was $60. it was the exact same $35 price bracket ticket that i’d bought. they said they’d think about it, he launched into a “okay, well you won’t find a better price anywhere else/these probably won’t be here when you get back!” song and dance routine.

    i approach the guys, explain my story and mention that i’d sell them mine for $5 below face (the actual price was $34 plus change, but i didn’t care so i sold them for 30 flat). they bought em, and i went back to the gate to meet up with the folks i was going to the game with. next thing i know, the scalper and his friend are walking alongside of me asking “you do that ofter?”, and “you think you’re some kind’ve a hero now?”. i just killed them with kind responses and kept walking on.

    this didn’t sit well with them, as apparently they wanted a war of the words. so the friend got in my face and started asking me if i’d ever been stabbed, or if i had a car in the parking lot, stating “it’d be a real shame if we caught you looking for your car after the game”. i mentioned how great a headline it would make for a scalper to knife a fan, and asked if that would help or hurt their cause, they shut up mostly, kept walking and turned around when i got near my gate.

    i walked in, told a security guard and yadda yadda yadda, next thing i know i’m giving a police statement and on the phone with a rep from MLSE to explain what had happened.

  5. If you see GO Transit Security Enforcement at the station, mention it to them! They are provincial offences officers. Do they care? Not sure!

    TFC should have a rep in fron of the GO with a sign saying “definedtickets still available at BMO box office” then!

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