Redskins: The Secondary Ticket Market and Season Tickets
Wednesday, September 2, 2009; 2:00 PM
Jeff Greenberg, the owner of ASC Tickets and ascticket.com, was online Wednesday, Sep. 2 at 2:00 p.m. to talk about the Redskins' practice of selling higher numbers of general admission tickets to ticket brokerages rather than the general public.
Read more about the Redskins' ticket selling practices in the Post's investigative piece by James Grimaldi that details the Redskins' past dealings with ASC Tickets and other brokerages.
Rockville, Md.: Are you a Redskins fan?
If yes, do you feel you are hurting the team on the field by providing tickets to other teams' fans. Is there a way you could still make your profit, but find a way to sell local or just to Redskins fans?
Jeff Greenberg: We are Redskins Fans. We put our seats up for sale through the internet but there is no way to control which fans buy the tickets.
Alexandria, Va.: How much of a moron is Dan Snyder to say that he had no knowledge of what was going on in his organization? It would embarrass me to admit such a thing. It also seems that the people involved with these unethical practices are still there! Why?
Jeff Greenberg: As far as we know, Dan Snyder did not know anything about who individual tickets were sold to, he runs a billion dollar company and it would be impossible for him to know everything that goes on within such a large company.
Washington, D.C.: The article mentions that the seats you purchase were under the name of one of your employees. Were all the 200 plus tickets under his name? Is there any doubt in your mind that the Redskins knew they were selling these tickets to a broker? There seems to be no way that the team wouldn't know this was going on. Did they think one guy was buying 200 tickets for all his friends?
Jeff Greenberg: All the tickets were in the name of one employee.
Lawsuits: I don't have much sympathy for someone who signs a six-year season ticket contract with the understanding that he can back out of it if he can no longer afford it. Sounds like the same person who refinanced his home at two percent. That said, isn't there a legal duty to mitigate? How can the Redskins get full value on the contract and then sell those same tickets again? I just don't think that's legal based on my understanding of contract law.
Jeff Greenberg: We have no knowledge of contract law either. We aren't lawyers.
Atlanta: I imagine you'll get a lot of complaining emails about this story and the sky-high prices charged on the secondary market today. However, those prices only work when people pay them ... and it's obvious people in D.C. are willing to pay. People shouldn't forget that this is such a basic capitalist case of supply and demand - when the demand exists, the market will set the price.
I personally think the Redskins gameday experience is probably more torture than waterboarding and would have to be paid to go again, but it's clear there's money to spend in D.C. on this average product - I say take the money and run. Charge as much as the market will bear and enjoy it - there should be no price controls on entertainment!
Jeff Greenberg: We agree except we believe the game day experience is great.
Mt. Lebanon, Penn.: So Dan Snyder sued his own fans, won monetary judgments against them, took the money, then sold the seats formerly owned by those Redskins fans. Is this correct?
Bernie Madoff has nothing on Snyder.
Let's hear it for Daniel Snyder: 2009 National Chutzpah award winner. Maybe there's a movie deal in the works for him. Harvey Keitel would do the role spot on.
Snyder's mother must really be proud of him.
Jeff Greenberg: We don't have any knowledge of the lawsuits.
Washington, D.C.: Jeff,
Around where I sit, it seems as if certain of the seats are usually sold to the opposing team's fans, and usually to different people for each game. So I was wondering, do you sell more of your seats to people from within the D.C. metro area or from outside the D.C. area?
Jeff Greenberg: We can't control who buys our tickets. Redskin fans have just as much opportunity to buy the tickets that we sell online as fans of the opposing teams.
Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C.: What are your thoughts on Snyder and him pretending to know nothing about this? I know he is a micro-manager, so surely he must of known about these and others like them. Thoughts?
Jeff Greenberg: As far as we know, Dan Snyder had no knowledge of the ticket sales to us. Remember the Redskins have 910,000 tickets to sell every season. The number of season tickets the post is reporting represents .0025 of all the seats. That is only 1 out of every 400 seats. So for Dan not to know about it is completely understandable.
Fairfax, Va.: Do you know if this was the first time the Redskins sold directly to brokers or did this happen in the past as well? Didn't they take a ton of Lower Level tickets away from The Post and other brokers a few years back?
Jeff Greenberg: We heard they took away about 200 season tickets from the Washington Post a few years back, so maybe the post wasn't real thrilled with the team and any article might be skewed in a negative light.
Rockville, Md.: Who is anyone kidding, there is no waiting list. Not for regular or premium seats. I could call today and get upper deck tickets.
My nephew was solicited for season ticket sales in the mail and he is only 10.
If I knew the right person, I'll bet lowers would be available, too.
Jeff Greenberg: That's interesting. We haven't called the Redskins recently to try and buy tickets for this year.
Metro Center, Washington, D.C.: Based on your experience with the Ticket Office, do you feel that there are hard policies in place to deal with season ticket holders and the distribution of general admission tickets? Is it a complete free-for-all where anything goes?
Do season ticket holders have any rights? I'm a season ticket holder with seats in the upper deck, and I'm completely annoyed that the ticket office hasn't been able to move me out of row 23 for the past four years.
Jeff Greenberg: I don't know if there are any hard policies at the ticket office. I think that if you call the ticket office or go online you can purchase tailgate tickets, which are a great way to enjoy not only the game but the whole experience.
Leesburg, Va.: So Jeff explain why this "employee" was able to get these lower level seats and the typical fan couldn't?
Jeff Greenberg: We were able to get these seats because we purchased other premium seats. I believe that you can call the ticket office and get lower level seats today if you buy either tailgate seats or touchdown club seats. Tailgate seats are reasonbly priced.
Sterling, Va.: Please explain how you were offered these seats and avoided the waiting list?
Jeff Greenberg: We were able to get them because we were willing to buy premium seats as well. I believe you can call them now and purchase tailgate tickets.
Rockville, Md.: Do you think the Redskins did anything wrong by selling the tickets to you and other brokers rather than selling them to people on the "Waiting List"?
Jeff Greenberg: I don't believe they did anything wrong. They are their tickets and need to sell 910,000 tickets per year. We didn't get just regular seats, we purchased premium tickets as well. If you are on the wait list, call the redskins and I believe you can get tailgate tickets or other premium tickets now.
Arlington, Va.: Jeff,
Perhaps the Post viewpoint might be skewed based on the fact that they had 200 seats removed but with all due respect your answers seemed to be skewed as well...meaning don't say anything to upset Dan Snynder. What's up with that??
Jeff Greenberg: We are answering the questions that are submitted that keep asking about how he couldn't know, and how he runs his company etc. We have never met or spoken with him. But we ourselves are Redskins fans and you can say what you want about the way he runs the team, but you can never say that he isn't willing to spend whatever amount of money to try and bring a winner back to Washington.
Greed City, USA: So, are you going to explain how you were able to get these tickets, or not?
Jeff Greenberg: Have responded to this numerous times. We were able to get them because we bought premium tickets as well as regular tickets. If you are a fan, you should call them now to try and get a tailgate package.
Chantilly, Va.: Are you kidding me Jeff? Why should we believe that you didn't have an in with Jason Friedman to be able to acquire the amount of tickets in so called sold out sections of the lower bowl?
Jeff Greenberg: It is possible that the tickets we were able to get were the ones that did not sell within the touchdown club or tailgate club. We don't know for sure but you can try calling them yourself.
Some observations: You can't have a double standard where the team can sue the season ticket holders but the season ticket holders can't in theory sell their tickets.
The reselling of tickets to fans from out of town is commonplace ... especially in D.C. You have to remember there are many transplants from various areas from around the country who are fans of other teams and will make every effort to go to their teams' games.
The assumption made in the article was that the "Steelers section" consisted of tons of out of town fans who came down from Pittsburgh for the game, when in fact, many of those fans live in the metro D.C. area.
Also, it's important not to forget the visiting teams to all NFL games gets an allotment of tickets for the games that are sold to their fans, or sold through contracted travel agencies for certain away games. These are common when northeastern teams play in the south and west.
Snyder knew what was going on ... or he played the blind eye of do it but I don't want to know the details.
Jeff Greenberg: DC is unique when it comes to the people who live here. There are tons of military bases whose employees typically move every 2-3 years and new ones from other parts fo the country come in. Plus we have what you call the US government. All of the Senators and House of Representatives typically didn't grow up in DC along with all of their staffers. The fact that the Redskins have the fan base they have is amazing giving the transient population.
Typically if you are a fan of a team that is not where you live, you don't buy season tickets to the team you are not a fan of. But when your team comes to town you want to buy a ticket for the game. This is why most seats sold in the secondary market are for those of opposing fans.
North Carolina: I was on the wait list for 16 years and this is my 10th year with season tickets while never living in the DC area during that time.
As such, I sell them every year and attend as I can. The profit used to be fairly dependable selling my seats over the web, but the last two years it seems the bottom fell out of the market. Do you think this is related to the ticket office flooding the market?
Jeff Greenberg: The stadium holds 91,000 people and the skins have played .500 ball for the past few years. When we go 14-2 this year demand will heat up. How can they flood the market there is a fixed number of seats?
Silver Spring, Md.: Wait - did you really just try to insinuate that the Post news desk is angry with the Redskins and that's somehow influencing this story? Can you possibly be so unclear as to how newspaper reporters at that level operate? Don't try to push off responsibility for what you did on the newspaper that broke the story. If you're going to be a jerk, at least own it.
Jeff Greenberg: We stated the facts. We can believe what we want. Any reporter for any paper or website can skew a story by omiting some facts. Bottom line 200 or so GA seats were taken from the post a few years back. A fact reported by them.
Fairfax, Va.: Ok, so I just called the Redskins and was told that even if you purchase premium seats there are no lower level seats available. How would they have sold out the lower level without selling tons of these tickets to brokerages ahead of time? And how is that not unethical?
Jeff Greenberg: Our employee had 217 season tickets last year. 50% were premium or upper level. Do the math that only leaves about 108 lower level seats. Probably doesn't take the redskins long to sell 108 lower level seats.
Danny Boy Sell The Team!: Mr. Greenberg,
Are you concerned with your continuing relationship with the Redskins, or have you been directed to not answer specific questions? It seems you either don't know much of what was going on, or seem to be very vague with your responses.
Also, does this sort of thing happen in the other 31 cities in the league? You do say you sell tickets for all venues ...
Jeff Greenberg: We were not directed about any questions to either answer or not. The truth is we don't know much about what was known and by whom within the redskins.
Washington, D.C.: I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Snyder but for heaven's sake he can't know everything about everything about the team or actions of every employee.
Regardless of what I think of selling to ticket brokers, scalpers, boisterous tailgaters, shortages at concession stands, etc., he's the face of the team; he's the big picture. Let's separate Mr. Snyder from small stuff, and like it or not, this is relatively small stuff.
Jeff Greenberg: Agreed. And we heard he was livid when he found out and took the actions that he did.
Maryland: Do you get offended when people think you are total scum, when all you are doing is providing a service that people clearly want. And like you said, you cant control who buys your tickets, Redskins fans or the other teams'.
Jeff Greenberg: We don't get offended anymore, because every day I go into a store and purchase food, clothes etc. And amazingly the people selling me the stuff paid less for it than they are charging me and I enjoy the convenience of not having to slaughter the cow myself or shave the sheep and then sew my own clothes. Capitalism works.
Arlington, Va.: From the outside it appears that the team could charge higher prices (than current face values) for non-premium seats to most games. Do you have any insight into why the team doesn't raise non-premium ticket prices?
Jeff Greenberg: The number of tickets that get sold for more than face value is such a small percentage of the number of tickets they have to sell. If they raised prices to high then they would have empty seats and blackouts.
We were able to get them because we bought premium tickets as well as regular tickets: Translation, after we agreed with the Redskins ticket office to buy all the available premium seats - they sweetened the deal by throwing these others as well. Its called business. Just go ahead and admit it, and you got a free hotdog and soda as well, and considering the prices at FedEx, I am sure that was considered a coup.
Jeff Greenberg: Agreed
Raljon, Md.: Do you know if any of the lower level seats you got were ones The Post used to have? Now that would be funny!
Jeff Greenberg: Maybe the post can publish a list of seats they lost. We have no idea which seats they had.
Rockville, Md.: I think the anger here is misguided. Jeff didn't do anything wrong. He's running a business and bought his tickets through legitimate above the board means. I'm a new season ticket holder this year and I have gotten e-mails saying I can get lower level seats if I buy premium seats. None of this is news, except for the quantities in which this was done.
Jeff Greenberg: Thanks for the support.
Richmond, Va.: Do you think it's fair that the only way to get decent season tickets is to add the expensive Tailgate or Touchdown seats? The Touchdown seats are $1000 each per game, right? Why not make the seats available to those waiting, without the bribe of the added expensive Tailgate or Touchdown package? Did you ever sell Touchdown seats with the field pass and buffet?
Jeff Greenberg: We never sold any of the Touchdown seats. Every individual has to make their own determination of what a good deal is. Tailgates seem like the best deal for someone wanted to get lower level seats.
Washington, D.C.: Jeff - On Ebay, why do brokers list tickets for prices that are WAY out of line with demand? For example, for the Nationals Pirates series (a low-demand event), there were a hundred pairs of tickets listed with absurd prices like $324.99, and no bids. Wouldn't a broker be better off pricing them more realistically?
Jeff Greenberg: Not sure, but we always try to have the best prices on ebay or any other site.
Denver: I'm a Broncos fan, but bought tickets through a broker for a Redskins-Giants game when I was in D.C. just to see a good football game. Without ticket brokers I wouldn't have been able to go to that game. Why do you think ticket brokers get a bad name when all they are doing is providing a service that obviously a lot of people like to use?
Jeff Greenberg: It is something that most people don't understand. Most people are incorrect and believe it is illegal. The only interaction they typically have is with someone on the street and there are plenty of unsavory individuals outside most stadiums trying to buy and sell tickets.
Washington, D.C.: Did you have any contact with any member of the Redskins organization before doing this chat? Did they ask you to mention the fact that the team took tickets away from the Post during the chat?
Jeff Greenberg: ABSOLUTELY NOT. It is common knowledge to anyone that has read the paper over the last few years or listened to sports radio.
Washington, D.C.: I don't have a problem with this. Sounds like the free market, supply and demand.
But, what about creating a home and visitor section? Seems like that'd make things clearer about who gets what, and it might create a bit of rivalry, if not drama in the stadium. Works for college games ...
Jeff Greenberg: Sounds like a good idea
Washington, D.C.: To the writer from Silver Spring, what responsibility is the broker trying to "push off" onto the Post? Jeff's transactions were perfectly legal, notwithstanding the article's insinuations to the contrary. The secondary market is sometimes the only way a fan can purchase tickets to a game absent spending thousands of dollars on season tickets. In fact - correct me if I'm wrong - but the secondary market, I'm told, is responsible for reducing event ticket prices and providing the fans with a wider variety of affordable event choices where it is legally allowed to flourish.
Jeff Greenberg: Thank you for your support.
Rockville, Md.: Have you noticed the demand for tickets declining? I am of the opinion that home blackouts will be happening within 4 years as people grow more and more frustrated with the management of the team and the incredible time commitment needed to go to a game on Sunday. I see that you think the Skins will be 14-2 but I am far more pessimistic and I have no reason to think that this team will turn it around.
Jeff Greenberg: We are fans and have been since we were little kids. Hope we are the ones who are right about the record this year
North Bethesda, Md.: For what it's worth I use ticket brokers a lot. I don't wait to be a slave to Ticketmaster's clock, and I don't want to have to camp out for tickets like I did in college. I won't buy Redskins tickets because I'd lose the money on the preseason games. I over pay for a game or two a year and I'm happy with it.
Jeff Greenberg: That is exactly the service that brokers provide. Feel free to over pay for your game or two this year at our site: www.ascticket.com
Washington, D.C.: That Washington Post. What a biased source of Redskins news. I'd much prefer to get my Redskins news from team-owned media and websites!
Jeff Greenberg: It is hard to find unbiased news about ANY topic in the world today.
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