Out-of-town scalpers won’t get NHL tickets without visit to Winnipeg

It didn’t take long for ticket scalpers to follow the National Hockey League back to Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG — It didn’t take long for ticket scalpers to follow the National Hockey League back to Winnipeg.

With tickets for the new team a hot a commodity, a few online postings suggesting tickets were on offer from scalpers for huge sums created waves in the local media Monday.

One scalper in Virginia was offering tickets for $120,000.

However, anyone who bought tickets on Saturday, when seats went on sale to the public, has to show up in person to claim them and select seats. That could make it difficult for out-of-town scalpers looking for someone willing to pay a premium for nosebleed seats.

If purchasers don’t show up they will immediately offer tickets to people on the waiting list, Scott Brown of True North Sports and Entertainment said.

True North bought the Atlanta Thrashers and is relocating the team to Winnipeg for the 2011-2012 season.

While there were plenty of online ads from people wanting to buy tickets Monday, there weren’t many from sellers, suggesting perhaps scalpers didn’t snag that many.

Manitoba Moose season ticket holders got a chance to beat the crowd and get guaranteed seats in exchange for supporting the AHL franchise when it was the only game in town at the MTS Centre.

But they cannot transfer their tickets for a year.

True North sold 13,000 season tickets, which leaves just over 2,000 to be sold on a per-game basis. The MTS Centre is the smallest arena in the NHL at just 15,015 seats.

There is nothing True North can do to stop anyone from going through all the steps, buying tickets and then scalping them, said Brown.

“What they do with them after they’ve legitimately purchased them is up to them.”

When the online sale opened to the general public Saturday, tickets sold out in 17 minutes.

“The (online) queue was filled up in two minutes,” said David Kehler, one of the thousands who came away empty handed. “It took 17 minutes for processing.”

Like many, he sat at his computer as the clock ticked over to noon, poised to secure seats for himself and a friend. His search was complicated by the fact that he needs wheelchair seating.

There’s a waiting list of 8,000 but it costs $50 per seat just to be on it and $100 a year starting next year to stay there. All of that money goes towards the cost of tickets if and when your lucky number comes up. The waiting list is also full and capped at 8,000.

“I was just heartbroken to not to be able to get tickets, hoping for 15 years for the team to come back,” added Kehler. “I know I’m not the only one. There’s a lot of people not in wheelchairs who are in the same boat.”

Kehler is also the sponsor of an online petition to keep the Winnipeg Jets name for the team. The Jets moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes in 1996.

His petition had close to 12,000 signatures as of Monday.