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Ticket scalpers shy away from concert benefiting Oklahoma tornado victims: 'It would be taboo'

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NORMAN, Okla. - A concert benefiting Oklahoma tornado victims has drawn some of the biggest names in country music, but with proceeds intended for charity it is not attracting scalpers hoping to prey on an unsuspecting public.

Oklahoma natives Toby Keith and Garth Brooks are among the star-studded lineup planned for the Oklahoma Twister Relief Concert at the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Other performers include Trisha Yearwood, Willie Nelson, Sammy Hagar, Ronnie Dunn, Mel Tillis, John Anderson, and Carrie Underwood, who will perform via satellite from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville.

While so many big names might normally make the show a boon for ticket scalpers and the secondary ticket market, some concert promoters say that doesn't seem to be the case for Saturday's show.

"What I've heard from the industry ... is that it would be taboo on this particular event," said Brad White, an independent concert promoter from Norman. "Even the secondary ticket guys are avoiding this."

The organizers of Saturday's concert declined a request by The Associated Press to discuss ticket scalping, but several independent promoters not associated with the concert said that although scalping may technically be legal, making a profit off the misfortune of others is certainly in poor taste.

Some major ticket brokers like San Francisco-based StubHub declined to enable listings for Saturday's concert and instead provided a link where customers can donate to the relief fund.

"This has been our policy with all Oklahoma relief events," Emma Leggat, StubHub's head of corporate social responsibility, said in an email to the AP. "Beyond this, StubHub is currently moving toward a model whereby we will enable nonprofits to benefit directly from secondary ticket sales for charity events through donated fees."

Norman-based ticket broker Totally Tickets had tickets for sale on its website from face value of $25 up to $109. The owners of the company declined a request for comment, but said in a message on its website that "demand for tickets to this event is extraordinary and we have decided to handle a limited amount of tickets for this event to serve our customers that have made us successful over the years and put us in a position to be able to help those in need." The company also claims to have donated more than $20,000 to victims of the tornadoes.

Although major ticket brokers are shying away from the resale of tickets, numerous tickets to the event can be found online on sites like Craigslist and eBay for up to 10 times face value, or $250. City officials in Norman also pointed out there is no prohibition on the sale of tickets outside the event on Saturday.

The money raised from ticket sales benefits the United Way of Central Oklahoma, which has established a fund specifically to aid victims of the tornadoes and violent storms that pummeled the state in May and led to 48 deaths. A separate benefit concert last month hosted by Oklahoma native country music star Blake Shelton and televised live on NBC raised more than $6 million in donations and pledges.

Debby Hampton, president and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma, said it's not clear how much Saturday's concert will generate, but that money raised will help with immediate, intermediate and long-term needs of those affected by the storms. Hampton said she also said she was disappointed to learn that some people were looking to mark up the price of tickets and make a profit off the misfortunate of others.

"It is disheartening that somebody would think that way," Hampton said. "I'm close to the disaster, and when you see the destruction and the lives that have to be rebuilt, to hear that someone would capitalize on that, it is tough to hear."

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