It's classic instance of supply vs. demand

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010

Business at Parks Edge Management real estate company in Point Breeze slowed to a trickle for a few hours Friday morning.

Property manager Mike McVeagh and co-worker Alex Wargo sat down with their cell phones at precisely 10 a.m. and began calling Ticketmaster in hopes of landing tickets to the Winter Classic hockey alumni game at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 31 at Heinz Field. The game will feature former members of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, including Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier and Larry Murphy.

McVeagh and Wargo didn't stop calling for an hour, getting nothing but a busy signal each time.

"Between the two of us, we had to try 30 to 40 times," McVeagh said. "As soon as you get a busy signal, you hang up."

McVeagh's uncle and another friend were elsewhere on computers, trying to purchase tickets. They, too, failed.

The NHL, which is staging the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Heinz Field between the Penguins and Capitals, made only 10,000 tickets to the alumni game available at $25 apiece. The tickets were gone within minutes.

"I think it is kind of unfair," McVeagh said. "Most of the people who got tickets were scalpers or people trying to sell them online."

Indeed, at 10:14 a.m., the first two tickets showed up for sale on the Pittsburgh craigslist website. A seller named Jake, who refused to give his last name but lives Downtown, wanted $250 for a pair.

After getting 170 text messages and 30 e-mails in 15 minutes, Jake said, he received his asking price from a woman who showed up at his Canonsburg office, cash in hand.

Jake was generous. Throughout the day, there were several entries on eBay and craigslist seeking as much as $699.99 for two and $1,380 for four.

Penguins Vice President Tom McMillan said the team asked the NHL for permission to sell more tickets.

"While we would love to sell more, and we know we could have sold more, we still have 10,000 people who otherwise weren't going to experience the rink at Heinz Field," he said.

NHL public relations director Jamie Horan said the league's focus is on the Winter Classic. Selling more than 10,000 tickets for a game the day before would have created logistical, safety and security issues, he said.

"We need to get ready," Horan said. "It's a regular-season game with two points (in the standings) at stake. (Too many people at the alumni game) would halt our building process."

The alumni game will not be telecast on live TV, but the NHL Network will show highlights immediately afterward when it covers the teams' practices and later that night.

The network will broadcast a shortened version Jan. 5. Fans can follow the game on Penguins HD Radio and the team's website.

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