Evanston aldermen tonight objected to efforts by Northwestern University to bar people from reselling tickets to NU football games.

Evanston aldermen tonight objected to efforts by Northwestern University to bar people from reselling tickets to NU football games.

The city’s Administration and Public Works Committee put on hold a proposal from the city manager requested by the university’s athletic department that would make reselling tickets a local ordinance violation.

Scalping tickets already violates state law, but because people arrested under the state law have to be taken to the police station to be booked, city police have chosen to ignore violations in the past to keep maximum manpower at Ryan Field for traffic control and other needs on game days.

Under the city manager’s proposal, people could be issued a traffic-ticket-like citation for scalping that wouldn’t require officers to leave the stadium site.

But Jeanne Lindwall, 625 University Place, said she’s a season ticket holder at NU games and that she and other ticket holders like having the option of selling extra tickets in the parking lot on game days. She noted that because the games never sell out, people generally are reselling them for less than what they paid for them.

Asked by aldermen whether the university has a program that would let ticket buyers sell their tickets back to the school, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the school has a program that lets ticket holders donate their tickets for use by a local charity, but doesn’t offer to give money back on tickets that are turned in.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she sees issuing citations to residents for selling tickets as a huge public relations problem for the city and the university.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she didn’t see a need for the city to get involved in the issue. “What’s in it for us,” she asked.

The aldermen also objected to proposed changes in regulations for peddlers that were also initiated at the request of the university, which has been seeking restrictions on game-day sales around the stadium.

The proposed new rules involve a substantial rewrite of the city’s peddling ordinance and, among other things, would require peddlers to change their location at least every half hour unless directed by city officials to operate in a stationary location. Aldermen voted to hold that ordinance in committee as well.

The city manager promised to have more answers to questions raised about both measures when the issues come up for discussion again in two weeks.

Both issues were originally raised last fall, but were put off until after NU’s football and basketball seasons were over after aldermen raised objections to the initial proposals.

(Image above: An online promo for NU football season ticket sales.)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. We live close by Ryan Field

    We live close by Ryan Field and are season tix holders for 12 years.  Over the past 12 years, we have re-sold our tix 3 times.  We would be upset if the City issued citations when we are not brokers or scalpers.  What is next?  Baring tailgating because the tailgaters don’t buy from NU food vendors? 

    If NU wants to control what season tix holders do with their tix, here’s an idea:  stop offering season tix.  See how far that gets the program.

  2. Scalping tickets

    Hey Anonymous, selling your tickets is against the law…state law!  When you resell your tickets, you’re a scalper!

  3. So…

    Let me see if I understand this correctly.

    Ticket scalping is illegal under state law.

    Due to traffic issues and needing personnel to deal with that, Evanston police don’t enforce this law.

    The city manager has proposed something that would issue a "traffic-ticket-like citation." If I read the article correctly, this would be instead of enforcing the state law, because "people arrested under the state law have to be taken to the police station to be booked."

    But such an ordinance would still discourage an activity which is illegal under state law. So, the spirit of the law is maintained.

    And, as with most "traffic-ticket-like citations," it would probably involve some sort of fine.

    A fine, I assume, that would be paid to the city of Evanston… which could benefit from basically any money it could get right now with its budget problems. Even if in practice this would net maybe a couple hundred dollars for the city, that would still be a little gain for a minimal effort.

    So a tiny bit of revenue would be generated, paid by people engaged in an illegal activity. And, the illegal activity would be discouraged through enforcement which would not reduce the ability of the police to deal with traffic and crowds.

    And Ann Rainey asks "What’s in it for us?"

    And Jeanne Lindwall, a season ticket holder who doesn’t bother to use the tickets she buys (which strikes me as a poor choice on her part more than anything), wants the option of continuing to break the law.

    And Judy Fiske, who has made a political career out of fueling city-university tensions, is suddenly worried about the public relations risk that the university might face if the city were to enforce the law.

    That’s the situation, more or less, right? Tell me if I’m missing something or if I’ve got something wrong, because the conclusion I reach is that our aldermen are all hypocrites and idiots.

    1. Why is ticket scalping illegal?

      The ostensible public benefit of laws barring ticket scalping is to prevent small groups of professional ticket resellers from cornering the market on tickets to popular events by buying up large blocks of tickets before most customers have a chance to buy their own and then jacking up the price charged the ultimate consumer once tickets are no longer available from the venue’s box office.

      That scenario hardly seems to be a reality for the never-sold-out Wildcats.

      For the most part, such laws operate primarily for the benefit of the entity staging the contest, by making illegal a free-market trade in tickets and attempting to assure that all tickets will be bought at list price from the venue and none will be discounted. Thus the venue maximizes its revenue at the expense of fans unable to use all the tickets they’ve purchased.

      Just because a law is on the state’s books doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good law or one that the city should adopt on its own or devote scarce resources to enforcing.

      At least until the university creates a secondary market of its own in which Wildcat fans can resell their unwanted tickets, it seems to me that the greater good is served by letting fans resell their tickets privately.

      — Bill


      1. Reselling tickets is not illegal

        I think there are some misconceptions about reselling tickets on this thread.

        1) It is not illegal in Illinois for anyone to resell tickets at or below face value.  That’s not ticket scalping.

        2) It is legal to resell tickets in Illinois above face value (i.e., scalping) so long as you have a ticket broker’s license issued by the state.

        (See the Ticket Sale and Resale Act, 720 ILCS 375.)

        Whether it’s legal to run up and down Central Street peddling tickets on game day seems like a totally separate issue.  I assume you need an Evanston license to sell goods on the public way, but the penalty for this is probably minor, and unlikely to be enforced in most cases.

        1. Difference between state and city ticket resale rules

           Hi JRL,

          You seem to have hit on a good point here. I’ve asked the city attorney, Grant Farrar, to let us know whether there is some other provision of state law that would make it illegal for NU ticket holders to resell their tickets at or below face value.

          But for the moment it would appear that the proposed city ordinance is broader than the state law in that the city ordinance would make a sale at any price illegal, while the state law only bars sales above face value.

          However the city ordinance would be narrower than state law in that the ordinance only applies to transactions on game days, while the state law applies every day.

          To your last point, the city ordinance doesn’t seem to make any distinction between people selling tickets as a commercial activity — running up and down the street trying to sell dozens of them — and a private citizen trying to unload a couple of extra tickets for a game in the parking lot.

          — Bill

          1. Ticket ordinance


            I hadn’t read the actual proposed Evanston ordinance when I posted my earlier comment, but I can now see why the City Council balked at it.

            The ordinance makes it illegal to resell any NU ticket anywhere in Evanston on any day when there’s an event at the NU athletic complex (which appears to refer only to the facilities on Central Street, i.e., Ryan Field, Welsh-Ryan Arena, and the baseball and softball fields).

            I hold several season football tickets.  Sometimes, my parents come to town and join me for a game, and when they do, they usually pay me for the tickets they use.  That would be illegal under this ordinance if we consummate the sale on game day (or on any other day when there happens to be an event at the NU athletic complex).

            Usually when I share my tickets with colleagues or friends, I don’t expect to be repaid.  But let’s say a friend joins me and buys me a soda and hot dog at the game to repay me for the ticket.  Boom, we just broke this law.

            Also illegal would be a friend stopping by my house after a football game to sell me (at face value) some extra tickets he has to an upcoming NU basketball game.  It’s illegal because the sale occurs on a game day and the tickets are for any NU sporting event.

            It’s unlikely the ordinance would be enforced in any of these instances, but you can see why the aldermen rejected it.

  4. This will backfire on NU.  If

    This will backfire on NU.  If people do not have any way to unload tickets due to health,weather,conflicts,etc. on a given game day–they will think twice about buying them in the first place.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.