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Ticket scalping

Chip Case devotes a class each year to the reselling of sports tickets.

He has a section in his economics textbook on the same subject.

But for Case, an economics professor at Wellesley College, the sale and scalping of sports tickets is more than an interesting theoretical pursuit. Like Margaret Mead, he has done plenty of firsthand research in the jungle, and he has the stories to prove it.

In 1984, Case waited in line for two nights on Causeway Street to get $11 tickets to one of the classic Celtics-Lakers championship series. The night before the climactic seventh game, he was in the shower when his daughter called out to him: ''Dad, there's a guy on the phone who wants to buy your Celtics tickets." Case said he wasn't selling. ''But Dad," his daughter added, ''he's willing to pay at least $1,000 apiece for them."

Case was selling. An hour later, a limo arrived at the house to pick up two tickets -- one that belonged to Case and one to a friend of his. The driver left behind $3,000.

That's from a story by Charles Stein in today's Boston Globe. I recommend the entire piece, but can't resist including this:

Like any good market, the one for tickets is remarkably sensitive to information. Case has a story about that, too. He was in Kenmore Square just before game four of last year's playoff series between the Yankees and Red Sox. The Red Sox had dropped the first three games and there was no joy in Mudville. Scalpers were unloading tickets for the fourth game for only slightly more than face value. Tickets for a possible fifth game were going for even less.

But the Red Sox rallied to win game four in extra innings. By 2 that morning, said Case, top tickets for game five were already selling for more than $1,000 online. A bear market had become a bull market instantaneously.

Even $1,000 seems modest - those prices suggest that Sox fans had little hope, and weren't willing to pay much to see an impending Yankee triumph. But now there's this: "[I]f you went online last week, you could find front-row Green Monster seats for the July 15 game against the Yankees selling for more than $2,000." That's a bit rich. Makes you wonder about the guy who lost his season tickets for mixing it up with Gary Sheffield. What a maroon!