Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Pittsburgh businesses to Red Wings fans - drop dead

When I first saw this FriendFeed entry, my initial impression was, "Are Paul McCartney and Denny Laine reuniting?" Obviously I'm not an East Coast hockey fan.

This starts with a Michael Beck tweet:

Locking Wings fans out of buying tickets in Pittsburgh? I'll never use TicketMaster again as long as I live.

Beck then links to an article from AOL:

[T]he Penguins organization wants to keep that Detroit-area rabble out of their barn. Here's the disclaimer you'll find at Ticketmaster if you're looking to buy tickets to Games Three, Four or Six in Pittsburgh:

"Mellon Arena is located in Pittsburgh, PA. Sales to this event will be restricted to residents of PA, OH, WV, MD, NY, NJ, DE, VA and the District of Columbia. Residency will be based on credit card billing address. Orders by residents outside of PA, OH, WV, MD, NY, NJ, DE, VA and the District of Columbia will be canceled without notice and refunds given."

One nice little complication - as the article notes, Penguins fans were formerly victims of this little ploy:

Back during the 2001 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis scored some points with the local fan base when he restricted sale of tickets to the team's first round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins to local residents of the Washington Metro Area.

Eric McErlain noted that one possible remedy is to get Michigan's Attorney General involved (Andrew Cuomo inserted himself into the fray when New York fans were banned by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from buying tickets for a game).

But who gets blamed for the fiasco? Everyone's favorite punching bag, TicketMaster. Michael Beck did so, and Michael Parks also did so in the first comment to the AOL/McErlain article. I was trying to figure out if a Michigan resident could walk up and buy tickets at the Pittsburgh Penguins box office, but all of the ticket-purchasing links on the Pittsburgh Penguins website go directly to TicketMaster.

But when you buy something from TicketMaster, are you buying something from TicketMaster? Here's the mumbo jumbo:

Ticketmaster acts as the agent to those who are promoting or otherwise providing the events for which you purchase tickets, such as venues, teams, artists' representatives and fan clubs, promoters and leagues ("Event Providers"). When you purchase a ticket for an event that is located in the United States, then Ticketmaster L.L.C. will be handling the transaction and collecting payment for the Event Provider, and if the tickets are sent they will be sent from the United States, regardless of whether you are making your purchase on or and regardless of what country you live in.... sells tickets on behalf of promoters, teams, bands and venues, which means does not set the ticket prices or determine seating locations, except under limited circumstances on TicketExchange.

While I couldn't find anything that specifically addressed geographic restrictions for sale, the intent of TicketMaster's mumbo jumbo clearly boils down to "Don't blame us."

So in this case it's silly to go after TicketMaster. The offending party is the Pittsburgh Penguins themselves, or possibly the National Hockey League.

But in this case it's not only the hockey-related businesses who are wronging Red Wings fans:

Pittsburgh's most famous fish market is refusing to sell octopi to visiting Red Wing fans.

Wholey's Fish market in Pittsburgh's district known as "The Strip" is demanding identification from anyone who tries to buy one of the eight-armed slimy creatures....

"I believe no octopus should be thrown on the ice," says Wholey, who has instructed his staff to keep an eye out for anyone wearing Red Wings garb, or with Michigan accent.

Ben Schmitt tried to break through the security, but to no avail:

In my red-and-white Red Wings sweater, I strolled toward the octopi. They were packed in open freezer cases full of ice and wrapped neatly in plastic....

"Dan Wholey, get him!" shouted an employee. "He's a Red Wing fan."...

I picked one up, ignoring the warning sign: "If you're from Detroit, you're not allowed to buy the octopus. Must show identification."...

"You can buy anything else in the store," Wholey said with a sweeping gesture. "But I can't sell you an octopus."...

Then I turned around with a chuckle and revealed my identity: Detroit Free Press reporter.

Wholey burst out laughing.

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