Ticket reseller startup tackles Texas competitor

Courtney Symons
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Although the Ottawa Senators are back on the ice at Scotiabank Place after the National Hockey League lockout, even the most dedicated season ticket holder can’t make it to every game.

Scotiabank Place

That’s why local startup Broker4Tickets is launching a platform to allow them to sell their unused tickets to other sports fans.

The website, which will launch later this week, allows seasons ticket holders to capture back a portion of their investment and gives fans access to premium seats they wouldn’t normally be able to purchase.

But the company’s launch comes just as Scotiabank Place announces its partnership with StubHub – an eBay ticket reseller company that claims to be the world’s largest ticket marketplace.

The agreement includes in-game promotions and various marketing assets, making StubHub the “official fan-to-fan ticket marketplace of the Ottawa Senators,” according to a press release issued Tuesday.

There is still room for smaller competitors, according to Broker4Tickets founder Neil Cooke. Many other ticket resellers face problems with ticket authenticity, as transactions are completed online with a PDF file that could be a duplicate.

The local startup can guarantee the validity of the ticket because they are getting them from known sources, which Mr. Cooke believes will be his startup’s value proposition.

StubHub also requires seasons ticket holders to manage the tickets through the resale process, while Broker4Tickets does all the work for them, Mr. Cooke says. Not to mention the fact that it’s a local company instead of an American giant.

But Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder says the sports organization doesn’t encourage ticket resellers it doesn’t authorize, because it can’t authenticate the tickets.

As for the choice of an American company over a homegrown startup, Mr. Leeder said it has to do with brand recognition.

“If you’re in Texas and you want to get a ticket at Scotiabank Place, you’re not necessarily going to think (of a small ticket reseller company). Your first reaction will be to log onto a site that you know,” Mr. Leeder says.

The Senators even tried to create a ticket reselling marketplace themselves on CapitalTickets.ca, but gave up in favour of a more recognizable brand.

“We stopped pushing water uphill,” he says.

Any ticket reseller is working in the best interest of Scotiabank Place, Mr. Cooke says, as it improves the value of being a season ticket holder, as well as the likelihood that they’ll buy season tickets again.

“One of the biggest issues is that the buyers of seasons tickets say, ‘Yeah it’s great, I love the benefits, but maybe 10 to 15 games a year I can’t use the tickets, and my investment is for naught,’” he says.

The concept isn’t for the season ticket holders to make money, but to recoup part or all of the money they would have lost by not attending the game.

Although scalping – or selling tickets for more than their face value – is illegal, Broker4Tickets operates within the law by selling them below or at face value, Mr. Cooke says.

While the company will start by selling Senators tickets, the goal is to expand to all NHL teams this summer, and within five years to include other professional sports including football. Future applications could include theatre or concert tickets, although the process will be different as those types of events don’t generally have season ticket holders.

By providing unused tickets to Broker4Tickets, season ticket holders receive a cheque once its sold, with the company taking a cut of the ticket price. If a sports organization decides to take part in the process, it too will receive a percentage of the ticket resale price, Mr. Cooke says. Those who purchase the tickets don’t pay any service fees.

The firm’s five Kanata-based employees are expected to grow to 15 within the next two months.

Mr. Cooke is also a founding partner of I4C, a local consulting firm for the telecommunications, utilities, banking and financial services sectors.

Organizations: Ottawa Senators, EBay, NHL

Geographic location: Texas

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