Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Season-ticket scalpers chased from cyberspace by publicity

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Scalpers may have ducked their heads before being scalped themselves.

Whether you look at Kijiji, Craigslist or eBay, people who were advertising season tickets at exorbitant prices for Winnipeg's new NHL team have vanished from the websites.

In fact, when you look at these sites now, all you see are ads from people shut out from buying tickets who are still desperate to purchase them.

Scott Brown, a spokesman for True North Sports & Entertainment, the owners of the newly minted NHL hockey franchise, said all he knows is it wasn't True North that bodychecked the scalper ads off of cyberspace.

"I would suspect that it is due to the media coverage," Brown said Wednesday, referring to reports that there could be legal repercussions against scalpers.

"We didn't contact Kijiji or Craigslist or anyone. But we are monitoring the situation and collecting data."

Last week, True North opened up season-ticket sales by giving first crack to owners of corporate boxes and Manitoba Moose fans who had purchased either season tickets or mini-packs.

Then the company began selling season tickets to the public, but on Saturday, just 17 minutes after sales opened, the rest of the MTS Centre seats on sale were sold out.

Almost immediately, notices went up on various sites offering season tickets for sale far higher than the listed prices.

By Monday, True North had already cancelled some season-ticket orders from people who they would only say didn't want to agree to the terms set out on the driveto13.com website.

A spokeswoman for Craigslist said their site's content is monitored by the community itself.

"They were likely flagged off by our community," she said.

Spokespeople for eBay and Kijiji could not be reached for comment.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen said trying to sell tickets for more than face value is illegal.

"Maybe they now realize that anyone who engages in that actually runs the risk of being fined," Michalyshen said. "We don't want to see consumers get victimized or be in actions that are fraudulent.

"It is the buyer-beware message."

Michalyshen said police are also prepared to patrol the area outside the MTS Centre before the puck drops on the first home game in Winnipeg looking for ticket scalpers.

But good news for the thousands of people who were able to put a deposit down on the right to buy a tickets: Brown says they're hoping to begin contacting people for final seat selection and payment options in the next week or two.

"It's a significant step in the process," said Brown.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 9, 2011 A3

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