Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 2, 2014

Forum: Repealing ticket law could lead to fraud


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — By Diana Baribeau

Traverse City demonstrates Michigan’s economic transformation from an almost exclusive reliance on manufacturing to a more diverse portfolio of revenue generating industries; due in large part to the critical growth in tourism.

But, despite that progress, some in Lansing are now pushing policies that could make it harder to attract and entertain visitors, critical to the state’s and Traverse City’s economy.

Traverse City built on its exceptional natural beauty and added first-rate entertainment to draw tourism from all over the country. Visitors come to lie on beaches like Sleeping Bear Dunes during the day and then head to venues like the City Opera House at night. The money they spend supports our community and thousands of jobs.

Today, nearly half a million people are employed by the state’s arts, entertainment, recreation and hospitality industries — 20,000 in northwest Michigan alone.

The Pure Michigan campaign last year generated over a billion dollars in revenue for the state.

Yet the Michigan Senate is now considering a bill that could make the tourists behind those dollars think twice before spending it in the future.

HB5108 would repeal the state’s current ticket resale law and strip away one of the few tools available to help combat ticket fraud.

If this bill is enacted into law, venues around the state will have a harder time helping their customers access genuine tickets to events.

The existing law in Michigan is an example of how resale can be done right. An event-goer can buy a ticket from a venue box office or through an official ticketing site and be confident the ticket is real. Then that same ticket buyer can resell the ticket at face value. Further, if a ticket seller has permission from the venue, they can then resell the ticket above face value.

But under HB5108, Michigan would turn into more of a Wild West situation for fans and the bad players in the ticketing equation, the unscrupulous scalpers who often choose sordid tactics to con ticket buyers. These scalpers will often use a venue name in their Web address or use a venue’s logo to trick consumers into thinking they are dealing with the venue’s box office.

If this fan protection is removed, it will be harder for fans to obtain genuine tickets.

Visitors considering vacationing in the Great Lakes State may think twice if they have to worry they will show up for an event only to learn their tickets are fraudulent. And if they choose to buy fewer event tickets — or to vacation somewhere else altogether — that can hit hard on communities like Traverse City that rely on a full tourism season.

Every major sports and entertainment venue across Michigan has urged the Senate to oppose HB5108 because they know the impact it will have on their fans, their businesses and the communities they help support. Our state Senators should support our venues and our strong tourism industry instead of the unscrupulous scalpers trying to push this anti-fan legislation.

About the author: Diana Baribeau is Managing Director of the Traverse City Opera House.

About the forum: The forum is a periodic column of opinion written by Record-Eagle readers in their areas of expertise. Submissions of 500 words or less may be made by emailing letters@record-eagle.com. Please include biographical information and a photo.