MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura doesn't see anything wrong with it. The NCAA sure does.
Ticket scalping, the inevitable sideline of every major sporting event, has arrived here with the Final Four this weekend. All the tickets were gone more than a year ago, but that doesn't mean they're not for sale -- at a hefty price.
The face value of a single ticket to all three games ranges from $120 to $160. One broker said he was moving three-game packages ranging from $200 to $6,000. Some Internet sites listed prime seats as high as $10,000.
"It's the epitome of capitalism," Ventura said this week, when asked about scalping. "Who's the victim?"
While Ventura considers scalping a free-market enterprise that reflects interest in the product, the NCAA and others maintain the practice taints the event and, worse, makes it unaffordable for the average fan.
"It's our focus to get as many tickets as possible into the hands of the general public," said Greg Shaheen, the NCAA's director of basketball championship operations. "A strong preference is given to Final Four sites that have statutes in place to prevent scalping. We want to prevent that from happening."
The NCAA isn't alone.
"It's a factor throughout sports, but we don't condone it at all," said Bill Robertson, a spokesman for the NHL's Minnesota Wild, a red-hot ticket in their first year in St. Paul. Every home game has been a sellout.
"We have people trying very hard to get tickets, and scalping takes away from that. Our job is to protect the integrity of the event for fans and families wanting to go the game."
Ticket brokerages, many of them on the Internet, are a primary player in the ticket-scalping game. Mike Nowakowski manages Ticket King, a brokerage in Hudson, Wis. Across the river, there's no law against scalping.
"The NCAA claims its goal is to keep the tickets in the hands of the average fan, but this is not an event for the average fan," Nowakowski said.
On Friday, the regular folks got a chance to get in on the hoopla when the teams held free practices at the Dome. One of them, Matt Bosway of St. Paul, said he couldn't afford to go on his own; he'll see the championship game on tickets given by a friend.
"I've got to side with the governor," said Bosway, a Duke fan. "I see no problem with (scalping). The average fan really can't afford the tickets at face value anyway."
The NCAA printed the Minnesota statute outlawing scalping on the back of this year's tickets. It's a law Ventura thinks shouldn't exist.
"No one is holding you down on the ground and wrenching your wallet out of your hand or out of your pocket, taking out your money. You're buying it of your own free will and they're selling of their own free will," he said.
Phyllis Kahn, a state representative, introduced a bill this year to legalize scalping. She says it's strange to ban the practice when nothing is done about other goods and services that increase dramatically in price around a significant event.
"Why are we so concerned about tickets when hotel rooms can go up three times?" Kahn said. "I can't imagine anything sillier for police to do."
Nevertheless, some 70 off-duty Minneapolis police officers will be patrolling the Metrodome before, during and after games to discourage scalping. They'll also scour hotels, restaurants and bars around town.
"We've promised the NCAA to attack it," said Sgt. Allen Berryman.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.