Getting Scalped (Feb 12)

Seeing as I have been spending quite freely on soccer games and future airfare as of late, not to mention the upcoming “dues” that would have to be paid to the gym, school and phone company, I decided that I would take a hiatus from spending money on going to a soccer game this weekend. Instead I drafted a clever plan whereby I would not only finish one of my assignments for school, but I might even get to see some footy.

I live 2.5 miles away from Emirates Stadium, home of one of the most popular teams in the country, Arsenal. I had gone on a jog to see the stadium before, so I knew how to get there and about how long it would take. Now, Arsenal had a game today against Wolverhampton. I would be lying if I were to tell you that I didn’t want to go to the game. I very much wanted to go. I had looked for tickets for the past three weeks online, but they never ended up going on general sale, just to club members.

Now for my visual journalism class, I had an assignment to take pictures of daily life. This could consist of anything from someone walking their dog to an old lady carrying groceries. Being the sports nut that I am, I put two and two together and came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan to walk to to Emirates, take my pictures and then try to buy a scalped ticket when the scalpers were about ready to pack up so as to get the absolute best price. Worst case scenario, I would simply watch the game at a pub near the stadium.

Well my plan unfolded well enough to start off. I woke up at around 11, went to the gym for an hour (fourth straight day) and then watched a bit of the Manchester United game on my computer before leaving for the stadium at around 1:30. I figured it would take me about 40 minutes to walk there so it would give me plenty of time to do everything I planned on doing and eat lunch as well. The walk up to Emirates is so serene. The area is very clean and well taken care of; vintage without being dilapidated. The streets aren’t congested with cars and the buildings have a sense of grace. It was quite enjoyable too that the sun was shining and the wind was calm. The temperature on my computer said it was around 50 but it felt even warmer, to the point where I wasn’t wearing a coat.

I got to my destination at around 2:15, giving me plenty of time to wander around the premises and determine the best place to camp out and get a good picture. I ended up sitting on a bench and taking a few, but the pictures weren’t going quite as well as I had hoped. Technically they were fine; crisp, well lit and in focus. However, they weren’t conveying what I wanted them too. There was a lack of emotion. Take a look for yourself.

I decided to grab a burger and chew things over to see how I could get the photos I wanted. As for my other mission, that was not going so well either. I’m guessing scalping tickets is highly illegal here because it was nothing like American sports where every other person you walk  past is pushing a ticket of some sort. It wasn’t even like the other stadiums I had visited. Police were visible everywhere and there were no shouts of “anyone need tickets” to be heard.

However, as I was going to town on a delicious burger something strange happened. A little bit of onion fell on my plate. Wait what?? I looked up and sure enough, other little chunks of “onion” were racing towards me. Of course they weren’t onion, they were pieces of hail. Even though the sun was still beaming, a mix of hail and rain was now pelting me. It was one of the strangest weather scenes I had ever been a part of. Take a look for yourself up above.

As quickly as it appeared, poof, it was gone. I only got to take three pictures which was a bit upsetting because they were turning out quite well. I decided that I would just stay there, take pictures of the crowds making the walk towards the stadium and see if I could pull off a coup and snag a ticket. About 7 minutes into my strategy, a shifty eyed fellow mouthed out of the corner of his mouth if I needed a ticket. I had rehearsed for this moment so I cooly said that I might be interested. He parked himself next to me and told me he had one in the upper tier if I was interested. I said how much and he responded with…wait for it…150! 150 pounds!! I have bought tickets for four different games and I still haven’t spent 3/4ths of that.

I was so thrown off that I mumbled a quiet no thanks. He came back saying 100 but by then I wasn’t even paying attention. I had no idea what thieves these guys were. The ticket he was trying to sell me cost 43 pounds. It’s not like this was a huge rivalry game either. This was against a scrub team in what was really a pretty meaningless game and he was making three times as much with every ticket he sold. Finally I told him I wasn’t going to the game and he walked away peddling his overpriced product. Did I mention this was with 5 minutes to go til game time? I realized there would be no such thing as a cheap ticket and began my trek home. A few minutes later I passed a group of three guys asking how much for 3 tickets and another scalper said 100 each. Mind you the game had already been going on for 5 minutes and the scalpers were walking home. They would rather screw people out of a chance to see the game and eat the tickets than make at least a little something. Greed does not begin to describe what they are.

So I headed home, a bit disappointed and incredulous. Did I mention it started raining again? That does not do it justice though. About 10 minutes into my walk home it began monsooning. Luckily I got under a little roof and stayed dry enough to even take some pictures. Overall not my idea of a fantastic day, but it was good nonetheless. The one thing I can say, I am no longer an Arsenal fan. Not at all. They play against Barcelona on Wednesday in a huge huge game. Guess who’s wearing his Barcelona scarf that day? This guy!

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2 Responses to Getting Scalped (Feb 12)

  1. arnique says:

    That’s ludicrous! I’ve been looking for tickets to Arsenal v Aston Villa in May when I’ll be on holiday in London, but I’m not willing to spend a hundred pounds for something worth forty! I wonder if it would be possible to walk up to the ticketing booth on match day and just . . . ask.

    • Yea, you actually might have a bit more luck if Arsenal drops further down the table. But at the time, they were right on the tail of Man U and the game was sold out so I had to go through the other methods.

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