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Blackhawk fans shelling out big bucks for tickets
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Fans hit the souvenir stands before game one of the Stanley Cup finals at the United Center in Chicago Saturday.

 

Rick West | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/29/2010 8:47 PM

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Eighteen years is a long time by any measure, but since the Blackhawks last were in the Stanley Cup Finals it's meant a world of difference in the ticket resale industry.

In 1992, barely anyone was using the Internet. Today it's the primary battlefield for the increased number of brokers and finders agencies it has spawned.

And when a team's place in the Finals is as rare as the Blackhawks', it creates an even higher level of frenzied activity, online ticket agencies say.

This week, shoppers could find prices ranging from $125 for standing room to a seat for $30,589 on broker Web sites selling tickets for the Hawks' first two games at the United Center.

But Joellen Ferrer, public relations manager for StubHub.com, said the highest price she's actually heard paid so far was $7,500.

The average price fans are paying for the Hawks' four potential home games is $759, Ferrer said. The average price for the three potential games in Philadelphia is $565.

For agencies near and far, the Blackhawks' success has virtually opened up a brand new market.

"I'd actually have to say that with the Blackhawks it's been crazier than the Bulls ever were," said Chris Volante, a representative of Oak Forest-based ACheapSeat.com.

With frequently repeating teams like the '90s Bulls or the ever-postseason-bound New York Yankees, brokers never had to worry about the availability of the tickets they were going to sell, Volante said.

When teams like the Blackhawks become contenders, though, brokers had scramble to stay ahead of the demand. And with the Hawks, that demand started the second they qualified for the playoffs.

"We just didn't have people looking for Blackhawks tickets before," Volante said.

Though ACheapSeat.com sells tickets for sports and shows all over the country, the fact the Blackhawks are one of its hometown teams has brought even more business its way, Volante said.

StubHub never actually owns any tickets, but is a third party bringing together buyers and sellers while providing protection for both, Ferrer said.

"The secondary market has become more of a primary means for fans looking for tickets, especially for high demand events like the Stanley Cup," she said. "In the past, when fans heavily relied on street scalpers for tickets, they had zero consumer protections and really had no way of knowing whether or not their tickets were legit."

The average ticket prices are proving higher in Chicago than Philadelphia probably because sports success has proved a rarer commodity and sometimes a once-in-a-lifetime event in the Windy City, Ferrer said.

Likewise, StubHub has been selling more Finals tickets to Illinois fans willing to travel to Pennsylvania than vice versa, she added.