Keeping your Caps tickets out of the hands of the opposing team’s fans

Posted on November 8, 2010

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More than one person commented on Twitter during yesterday’s Caps game about the number of Flyers fans that were at the game, including some who said that some Philly fans were in seats normally occupied by Caps season ticket holders. My brother, who was at the game, said to me later by text, “It was the most noise I have heard in Verizon for a goal by the visitors in a long while.” But he said it was, “still easily over 90 percent Caps fans.”

To a certain extent, an opposing team’s fans coming into a sporting venue is unavoidable. Chances are great there that will always be at least a few fans of the visiting team at any game—not just at Caps games but with most teams in any sport (It should be noted that the number of rival fans at Verizon Center in recent years is much, much lower than it once was. Most every game is almost entirely filled with Caps fans. Not even 10% of the crowd being opposing fans for a single game is now enough to get people chatting. Where in the old days those types of numbers would have meant progress, now it alarms some people).

It’s also understandable that season ticket holders for any team might sell their seats occasionally for various reasons. I’ve heard of several Caps fans who are doing this with a few more games this season than they did previously, as a way to help cover costs after ticket prices went up. In the 400 level section at Verizon Center where my father has season tickets, and where my brother was sitting when he sent this tweet yesterday, the price to season ticket holders went up just over 30% in the off season—that adds up when you’re buying tickets to 41 regular season home games.

So, part of the reason it may have felt on Sunday like there were more rival fans at Verizon Center than there have been in a while is that it was the first home game against the Flyers, Penguins or Rangers (the three teams whose fans have historically been most likely to come to Washington in large numbers for a game) since this season started and ticket prices went up.

But regardless, as fans try to recoup some of their costs or simply unload tickets to games they are unable to attend, there are ways to do it that lessen the chances the tickets will end up in the hands of the opponent’s fans. It requires working outside of the more modern ticket resale methods that have emerged in recent years and might require slightly more legwork, but your fellow Caps fans will likely appreciate your efforts.

One of the things to avoid as a seller of tickets if you want as many red clad Caps fans as possible in Verizon Center is called TicketExchange, which is accessible from the Caps’ website and run by Ticketmaster. Through this service, Caps season ticket holders can resell their tickets. It’s been promoted through radio ads as a way for Caps fans to buy tickets directly from season ticket holders.

But here’s the problem with TicketExchange: while this may be a more secure way for a buyer to avoid purchasing counterfeit tickets, there’s nothing to keep a Flyers fan or a Penguins fans or Rangers fans from going onto the Caps site and using this service to buy tickets to see their team play in Washington. Selling through sites like StubHub also brings about this risk. I’d imagine the first place the opposing team’s fans look, once any game is sold out, is on sites like these. Craigslist falls into this category too, though you do get to interact directly with the buyer in that case, so you could hit them with a ten question pop quiz on Caps hockey before you agree to sell to them.

The only near surefire way to put your seats in the hands of a Caps fans is to sell directly to friends and contacts who you know are Caps fans. This doesn’t guarantee the tickets will be used by a Caps fan, but it beats putting them out there on very public sites for anyone in the world to purchase.

Another option my father uses, to sell his tickets to some of the games he can’t make it to, is a message board through my mother’s work. Those tickets could find their way into the hands of an opposing team’s fans, but the chances of this are a lot less likely when you sell through these lesser known, locked down and more local channels used only by people who live in the area. This is a big part of the reason my father uses this option—he doesn’t want to be the guy who allowed fans of another team into Verizon Center.

Twitter can be another good way to sell your tickets. You can find a large community of Caps fans using the tag #Caps on Twitter and you can also look through someone’s tweets to get an idea of who they root for before you sell to them. Facebook can be used in a similar way. And more than ever, there are a lot of people in the DC area who want to check out a Caps game—even a neutral fan is more fun than a fan of the opposition or an empty seat. So ask around your office, school, or the neighborhood and keep your seats filled with Caps fans. Or talk to other season ticket holders in your section and see if they’re interested in purchasing your seats or swapping tickets with you for another game.

Another nice upside to selling directly to someone through options like this is that you can pocket 100% of the selling price, while TicketExchange and StubHub both take a 10% cut when you sell through them.

There’s no way to ensure that every game at Verizon Center is filled with nothing but Caps fans. But with a little extra effort, you can help cut down on the dirty looks you might get from your fellow Caps season ticket holders who didn’t enjoy sitting next to that guy in the Flyers jersey the day you couldn’t make it to the game.

And if you do it for no one else, do it for people like The Horn Guy, who was one of those who commented on Twitter Sunday about there being Flyers fans in season ticket holder seats. He leads the Verizon Center crowd with “Let’s Go Caps” blasts on his horn from the 400 level and is one of the many people that makes the Caps’ home arena such a great place to experience a game—working harder to keep tickets in the hands of Washington fans is the least everyone can do for him and all our fellow Caps fans.

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