unlv basketball:

With UNLV tickets in high demand, scalpers will be out in full force on game night

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV fans hold up signs with the Rebels season tag line during their exhibition game against Dixie State on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at the Thomas & Mack. UNLV won in overtime 81-80.

They work the sidewalks and the parking lot in front of Thomas & Mack Center, their staccato pitch giving them away: “Need two? Got two? Need-two-got-two?”

They’re scalpers, looking to buy tickets on the cheap and sell them for a profit.

But selling game tickets on the UNLV campus is illegal, even if at face value. Selling tickets on university property can be done only by the school; selling tickets off-campus is OK, but only if at their face value.

Still, scalping is expected to take off this season because tickets to Rebels home games haven’t been in such demand in more than 20 years. Monday night’s opener against Northern Arizona is all but sold out.

UNLV Police say undercover officers will be patrolling the parking lots on game day not so much to rack up citations but to protect fans who may unwittingly buy a counterfeit ticket. While that hasn’t been a problem for UNLV games, phony tickets for games and events are a problem in other large cities.

“We advise not to purchase tickets off the street. Only purchase from the box office,” said Sandy Seda, the assistant chief with UNLV Police. “We know there will always be someone looking for a bargain or easy way into the game. We don’t want them to negotiate a price only to find out later they were burned.”

Season ticket sales were up 25 percent this year, and in mid-October, just 100 single seats remained on lower bowl of the 18,500 seat arena.

Seda said UNLV police will partner will Metro on game day to staff about 20 to 40 officers — they handle everything from security inside the arena to traffic. Some officers will be wearing street clothes in an attempt to limit ticket scalping.

Last year, Seda said a handful of citations for loitering and/or trespassing were issued to scalpers. Some individuals were issued citations — which is given in lieu of an arrest — on multiple games.

“We do anticipate there will be a lot more (citations) this year,” he said. “This is probably the best team they’ve had in 20 years. We expect all of the events to be packed.”

Ken Solky, President of Las Vegas Tickets and the past President of the National Association of Ticket Brokers, anticipates his office will be flooded with phone calls from fans this year looking for last-minute tickets.

Unlike buying tickets on the street, purchasing them from licensed brokers such as his is perfectly legal — they are licensed and pay taxes, and therefore are held accountable to provide authentic tickets.

Solky said his group acquires tickets in a variety of ways, including from season ticket holders who can’t attend a certain game. For some contests he’ll have as many as 150 tickets.

“The demand for UNLV (tickets) has increased with the ranking and quality of the recruiting class,” Solky said. “We’ll definitely see a demand in requests from previous years.”

Those demands are also being met outside the arena on game days. That’s unfortunate, Solky said.

“Cardinal Rule No. 1: Don’t buy tickets from anyone on the street,” Solky said. “You don’t know what you are getting into. You don’t know if it will scan when you get to the door.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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