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Scalping bill stalled amid price gouging protests

TALLAHASSEE — A proposal in the Legislature to allow customers to purchase and then resell an unlimited number of tickets to sporting and arts events has stalled over protests about price gouging.

StubHub, an online ticket-selling company that proposed the plan, said the measure would increase transparency and give consumers more freedom to buy and sell event tickets.

But venue operators said the idea would lead to quicker sellouts and steeper prices for patrons. The law also would require venues to handle all refund requests, even if the tickets were purchased through a third party.

Lawmakers have yet to consider the proposal (HB 225 and SB 392) in any of the six committees it has been assigned to, a signal that the idea is likely dead for the 2012 legislative session.

"I think the legislators listened, and they saw this was not really a consumer-friendly bill," said Robert Freedman, Ruth Eckerd Hall president and CEO.

Executives at venues across the state, including the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and the Tampa Theatre lobbied against the measure.

"I have been running not-for-profit performing art centers for 30 years, and this is the most frightening, dangerous and onerous legislation in my whole career," said Judy Lisi, president and CEO of the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Lisi encouraged theater patrons to reach out to elected officials.

StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer said the company targeted several states where it believes ticket-reselling restrictions should be eased.

In 2006, the company lobbied the Legislature to ease scalping restrictions by removing a requirement that tickets be sold for no more than $1 over face value.

The latest proposal would require venues to post the number of tickets available for sale and how many were held back. It also would prevent venues and original ticket sellers like Ticketmaster from requiring paperless, nontransferable tickets.

By requiring the same person who purchased the tickets to show up to redeem them, paperless tickets limit reselling opportunities.

Though the practice is not yet widespread, StubHub wants legislators to outlaw the practice before it becomes a bigger trend, Ferrer said.

Tia Mitchell can be reached at tmitchell@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Scalping bill stalled amid price gouging protests 12/08/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 8, 2011 10:01pm]
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