Following up on a report from last week in which the CBC revealed that the Toronto Maple Leafs released just 96 tickets to the general population for last night’s Game 3 action against the Boston Bruins, the Canadian broadcast giant has uncovered another shady dealing by the Leafs when it comes to ticket policy.
According to the report, a joint investigation by the CBC and the Toronto Star, the Leafs organization has instituted a 30% premium to season ticket holders whom it deems to be “commercial resellers.” What does this mean exactly? It means that the Leafs are trying to grab some cash from professional scalpers and ticket brokering services like StubHub, Vivid Seats and SeatGeek.
From the CBC:
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has identified hundreds of hockey and basketball season ticket holders who are making a killing reselling thousands of tickets.
Instead of cancelling the tickets to allow regular fans a crack at them, MLSE is charging these "commercial resellers" a new 30 per cent premium to renew their seats for the 2018-19 season. MLSE also encouraged the scalpers to join its new "Trusted Reseller Program."
Without prior warning, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment sent out invoices to Leafs and Raptors season ticket holders with the 30% markup for those identified as commercial resellers. This shocked longtime broker Russ Blacklock who said, "It's opportunism. It's all about money."
Like other brokers, he's sold quantities of season tickets for 35 years and says that, until now, the Leafs have never taken issue with his business, which is legal under Ontario law.
"All of a sudden the team starts to play well after years of supporting them and having no problems,” says Blacklock. “It's also about the big guy knocking the little guy out of a situation."
Blacklock isn’t alone in his contempt for the situation, Ervil DiGiusto head of the Canadian Ticket Brokers Association shared his outrage with the CBC, as well. "It's totally ridiculous. Unfair. Very Mafia!”
"We're being targeted. They basically want a piece of our action is really what it comes down to.”
As for the Average Joe Leafs fan who simply wants to catch a game or two each season… he or she will have to pony up an extra 30% for scalpers/brokers tickets.
"I understand that it's their product and they want to make as much money as they possibly can. It just sucks for someone in my position," said Ian Tulloch a Leafs super fan, who says he rarely gets to attend a games due to the prohibitive prices.
"To fans like me it feels like a big middle finger."
Of course, the Leafs could always stamp out ticket brokers and scalpers entirely, much like the Winnipeg Jets have. Since the Jets returned in 2011, the team has enacted a policy that it does not allow ticket reselling of ANY kind for its 42 home games and subsequent playoff games.
"It has been our practice to cancel broker tickets," said Kevin Donnelly, a Winnipeg Jets senior VP with the True North Sports and Entertainment. "It is absolutely our preference that tickets for the Winnipeg Jets remain in the hands of Winnipeg Jets fans."