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Buying Orioles tickets from scalpers would be illegal under council bill


The ticket drought that plagued Orioles fans this season has prompted Baltimore City Council President Mary Pat Clarke to introduce legislation designed to limit ticket scalping by making both the use and purchase of those tickets a misdemeanor.

"Basically, it's gotten so out of control that citizens of this city can't buy tickets to a ballgame unless they pay $85 a ticket and have a friend in D.C.," said Ms. Clarke. "You can't go to the gate and buy a ticket to see the Orioles play. It's getting to be a very elite situation," she said.

Currently, selling a ticket to a professional or college sporting event or any other event for more than the face value of the ticket is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Under Ms. Clarke's proposal, the purchaser or ticket user also could be arrested and charged, and face a misdemeanor conviction and $500 fine.

Initially, the bill proposed making the use of a scalped ticket against the law, but Police Commissioner Edward V. Woods asked the council president to amend her bill to also prohibit the purchase -- instead of just the use -- of the ticket.

"It would be nearly impossible to enforce this prohibition because an officer would have to be in a position to observe the transaction and actually hear the price paid and then wait for the purchaser to actually use the ticket," he wrote to Ms. Clarke.

As a result, the bill was amended to make the purchase and/or use of a scalped ticket illegal.

In addition, the bill was amended to require fine print to be included on tickets warning of the law against buying and using scalped tickets.

Thomas A. Daffron, the Orioles senior vice president, said the club was supportive of whatever measures could be taken to curb ticket scalping, and is now weighing its own measures.

"We are concerned . . . that as many tickets as possible are available to average fans at a reasonable price," Mr. Daffron said.

"We are certainly supportive of the goal -- to discourage the practice," he said. "We want to do all that we can, but it's not an easy thing to control.

After a hearing yesterday before the Professional and Municipal Sports Committee, chaired by Councilman Joseph J. DiBlasi, the bill was supposed to come to the floor of the council last night.

But last-minute amendments delayed consideration by the entire council.

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