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Original Issue

Scalp Treatment? The Cubs are ticking off fans by "brokering" tickets for far above face value

Roger Clemens versus the Cubs for his 300th win was the toughest
ticket in Chicago on June 6--but for big bucks you could, of
course, still get in. A $45 seat could be had for $1,500 from one
of the licensed ticket brokerages near Wrigley Field. That's
$3,000 for you and your date before that first hot dog. The
markup is shocking, but wait till you hear who owns the
brokerage: the Tribune Company. Since that media giant also owns
the team, this is, some say, a blatant case of the Cubs scalping
their own tickets.

Wrigley Field Premium Tickets Services exists partly because the
Cubs got tired of seeing brokers and illegal street scalpers make
a killing while they were selling tickets at $5 to $45. But Cubs
VP Mark McGuire says that when PTS opened in June 2002, the team
hoped it "would be creating goodwill" by providing "a quality and
legitimate ticket brokering service" that would protect fans from
the counterfeit and stolen tickets that sometimes surface on the
secondary market.

But with thousands of good seats going directly to PTS for resale
at Tiffany prices, goodwill has been slow in coming. The Chicago
Sun-Times called the plan "a woefully dishonest--and
illegal--ticket scam." A fan went into the PTS office last month
and berated workers. And a rival broker, Marc Hamid, has filed a
class-action suit against the Cubs, claiming they've violated an
Illinois law prohibiting host entities from selling tickets above
face value. "We have many reports from angry fans," says Paul
Bauch, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. The Cubs wouldn't
comment on the suit.

Even worse for the Cubs, though, is that PTS hasn't been
profitable. The brokerage ended last season with $15,000 in
unsold tickets; a source says it lost money, and this year red
ink is possible again. One thing is certain: If the Cubs board up
the windows of PTS, some people would buy a ticket to watch.
--Lester Munson

COLOR PHOTO: AFP (WRIGLEY) TOUGH SELL The Cubs' scheme has not yet been profitable.

COLOR PHOTO [See caption above]