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YOU'LL DIG DEEPER FOR TICKETS

Legislation, market combine to drive event prices higher.

Need tickets to the Daytona 500 and other Speed Weeks events?

Daytona International Speedway put together a nice, four-day package of seats in the Earnhardt Tower for all races that you might like. Face value: $660 a person.

It could be worse. From scalpers, now legally called reticketers, that'll be $1,000, just a 51 percent markup. That's the price StubHub.com wants for the package. It is the biggest player in the newly legitimate and booming business of buying tickets at face value and selling them for whatever the market will bear.

And StubHub is about as legitimate as you can get. Callers to the speedway's ticket line last week got the bad news that the above package and most other Daytona 500 tickets were sold out more than three weeks before the race.

But before they reached an operator, would-be racegoers heard a recorded message: "Daytona is pleased to announce StubHub is the preferred fan-to-fan marketplace for the 50th running of the Daytona 500."

Ticket scalpers, once relegated to the social status of those who smoke marijuana in public, have gone uptown - way uptown. StubHub has been owned by eBay since early last year and, not incidentally, is already adding a lot to its parent's bottom line.

Likewise, Ticketmaster, which sells tickets as a kind of box office agent, taking a fee on each one, said this month that it planned to buy TicketsNow, the No. 2 Web site in the "secondary ticket" market, for $265-million.

Some consumers blame such companies for the skyrocketing price for tickets to everything from the Super Bowl to rock concerts in Los Angeles - and, of course, to the Daytona 500.

It wasn't supposed to work out that way. The Legislature changed the law in 2006 to make ticket scalping a legal business. The sponsor of the bill, then-Rep. John K. Stargel, R-Lakeland, predicted consumers would benefit.

"We'll see more tickets available, not less, like in other states," he said then. "And it will cut down on fraud."

Stargel, who has since become a circuit judge, could not be reached for comment.

The senior director of consumer marketing for International Speedway Corp., Ryan Meyer, said his company does not sell tickets to StubHub. Instead, buyers of tickets offer them for sale on StubHub at whatever price they can get.

"They don't do any of the pricing," Meyer said of StubHub. "The fans do that themselves" as supply and demand work to set the sales price, he said. StubHub is just an online marketplace and gets a fee from buyers and sellers, he said.

As for how those scalping buyers manage to get the tickets in the first place, Meyer said, "I don't know all the ways." The obvious route would be to call or buy online as soon as the tickets go on sale, usually in early summer.

Meyer said International Speedway Corp. has tried to limit the mass purchases by scalpers. "We're certainly not out to gouge anyone," he said.

There have been major problems with other events. Fans have complained recently about all tickets being taken for a Hannah Montana concert tour. Last fall, ticket sales for World Series games in Denver were suspended temporarily because of fan complaints they had been shut out by legal scalping.

Meyer would not disclose ISC's financial deal with StubHub. He said his company recommends StubHub to would-be ticket buyers as a "reputable company" that might have tickets when the Speedway's primary channels do not.

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