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Posted on Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 3:48 p.m.

Craigslist lights up with Obama tickets as University of Michigan runs out

By Nathan Bomey

The market for tickets to President Barack Obama’s University of Michigan commencement address is about to kick into high gear.

The university said this afternoon it is no longer distributing tickets, which means members of the general public hoping to score seats are out of luck.

Unless, of course, they turn to illicit means.

Not surprisingly, Ann Arbor’s Craigslist page is getting overwhelmed with posts from sellers willing to part with their commencement tickets at a steep cost. The price point seems to be hovering in the range of about $50 apiece.

More coverage: Obama in A2

Dozens of people are trying to sell their Obama tickets today. At least 15 people have posted Craigslist ads to sell their tickets today alone.

That’s sure to rankle the university, which earlier this month delivered a stark warning to prospective scalpers, reminding them that scalping tickets is a misdemeanor under state law.

"It is expected that students only will take the tickets needed for family and friends, and that they will not sell them. These tickets are considered the property of U-M, and therefore, are not to be sold. University policy states: 'Any attempt to sell, resell, donate or otherwise exchange commencement tickets for anything of value will result in your ticket(s) being revoked,'" the university said in a press release earlier this month.

(According to a state statute, it’s illegal to sell event tickets at a cost higher than the original price. In this case, that means it’s illegal to sell them at all, since the university is distributing them for free. The university could choose to authorize a resale entity to sell tickets at an upcharge, but the university is not doing that.)

Some people are taking a legally questionable route selling tickets. Like this poster:

"Pencils (W/ free Obama tickets) - $1 (Ann Arbor )," one poster writes.

Still others are seeking out tickets

Contact’s Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or or follow him on Twitter. You can also subscribe to Business Review's weekly e-newsletter and the breaking business news e-newsletter.



Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

I am a retired police officer who had lots of experience with scalping. First, Mr Bomey, read the law before you use it as a source in the story. It is true that the law prohibits selling a ticket above the face price, but it includes the language, in a "public place or thoroughfare." Here you go: It looks like it has not been amended since I relied on it. One of my cases involved an email posting and the judge tossed it because the judge felt the internet does not meet the standard of a public place. So if you sell your tickets in a private setting, there is no violation of the law. A US Attorney knowledgeable in internet crime told me he would argue the internet is a public place, but I do not know if any rulings have been made on tickets sold online. I have also heard prosecutors from various counties say there is nothing they can do about tickets offered by "ticket brokers" who commonly put ads in newspapers. Many people are against ticket scalping laws believing that if someone has something of value and someone is willing to pay, then what is the problem? I disagree. Many people cannot afford or even have a chance to purchase tickets. So people who can buy them and sell them, sometimes the entire set of season tickets, at a profit just sticks in my craw. What's to keep a wealthy person from buying hundreds of tickets and making a huge profit? A warning to those who buy from scalpers. There have been instances where phony tickets are printed up and you won't get a valid ticket. Not something you will want to report to the police when you can't get in.


Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 9 a.m.

It's obnoxious to scalp tickets to see and hear a sitting president. I hope the police do follow up and fine the people asking these exorbitant amounts, the same amount of money they are trying to extort, by doing so. Scalping tickets to hear the president, whom we elected to change the focus of our government from personal greed to the greater good, demonstrates that these people have nothing new to offer the world.


Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 7:49 a.m.

Happy fun ball seems to have forgotten that last 30 years of conservative economics. apparently Obama caused the recession that existed before he was even elected. Also, last I checked, being a Senator is a real job.

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 5:45 a.m.

Why bother getting tickets to hear him speak - apart from the 15% unemployment in Michigan and the fact that Obama has never held a real job - I doubt anything he says will have real world value.


Fri, Apr 30, 2010 : 12:55 a.m.

revoke their degrees.

Anonymous Due to Bigotry

Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 6:45 p.m.

Yea really. Seems like any money the students make will get funneled into the U one way or the other so I'm surprised the U would object to scalping given that they seemingly won't turn down any other source of revenue.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 3:59 p.m.

Glad I bought mine off craigslist early. Someone is flagging all the posts on craigslist now. Leave the kids alone--God knows they probably need the money after paying 4 years of U of M's tuition.


Thu, Apr 29, 2010 : 3:40 p.m.

Might as well try to make a few bucks before becoming unemployed on Sunday! A2 police aren't going to bother to prosecute anyone for 'scalping'. Have you ever even been to a football game? There are people scalping tickets outside the stadium at every game. Every. Single. One.