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Some offer ‘top dollar’ for Obama speech tickets

Mary Hudetz
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

DENVER, Colorado ” Some people desperate to see Barack Obama’s acceptance speech are offering “top dollar” for seats, but officials are trying to head off any sales because the tickets were distributed free and aren’t supposed to be resold.

Democratic Party officials said Wednesday they don’t know how many sales have been attempted or blocked, but they’re working with the online sale sites Craigslist and eBay to track and remove offers to buy or sell.

“It’s something that we’re working on continuously,” Democratic National Convention Committee spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth said. “This is a free opportunity for people to come together and celebrate our candidate.”



The first three days of the convention will be at the Pepsi Center, but Obama’s Aug. 28 speech, on the convention’s final night, will be at the 75,000-seat Invesco Field at Mile High, where the Denver Broncos play. Democrats haven’t said exactly how many tickets have been distributed to the public.

They said roughly half the seats were set aside for Coloradans, but more than 80,000 people requested them.



On Wednesday, a dozen people offered to buy tickets on Craigslist, including some offering “top dollar” but no specific price. No tickets were listed for sale on Craigslist or eBay.

The dearth of tickets seemed to leave some people shocked.

“Seriously, has ANYONE received ‘community credentials’ for Obama’s speech next Thursday?” one Craigslist posting read. “I cannot believe that with 30,000+ tickets, no one is selling theirs.”



A Craigslist ad by Lori Watzman of Washington offered $9,999 for a ticket, but Watzman said in an interview she was really willing to pay only $100. She said the higher figure was just meant to entice callers.

She said she received only one call, from someone who said he would think about it.

“It’s a supply and demand situation,” said Watzman. “I’m just sort of keeping the faith that one Obama supporter will help another.”

Catherine England, a spokeswoman for eBay, said the company’s site is programmed to block any Obama tickets that go up for sale. A team of staffers also searches for items the company doesn’t allow to be posted, she said.

She didn’t know how many people have tried selling tickets on eBay, where more than 7 million new items can be posted on any given day.

“It’s not something I can pull,” she said. “It’s next to impossible.”

Convention officials notified the people who were chosen to get tickets last week and gave them until Tuesday to activate them online, over the phone or in person. Tickets were awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis, according to the DNCC and the Obama campaign.

Wyeth said convention officials are still determining if they will try to verify the identities of ticketholders as they enter the stadium.

One Craigslist user said he was scrutinized closely before he was given his ticket.

“In getting mine I’ve had my ID checked more than at the liquor store,” the listing said. “And no, mine is not for sale. Well, how about a bazillion dollars?!?!”


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