By Erin Delmore
It’s the hottest ticket in town. Not Beyonce, Billy Joel or Ariana Grande, but another celebrity descending on the tri-state area this week: Pope Francis.
In true American fashion some of those free tickets to see the Holy Father are being resold online, for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The irony of capitalizing on the church’s chief critic of capitalism, a man who once called the ‘unfettered pursuit of money’ the ‘dung of the devil,’ isn’t lost.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement, the tickets are “distributed free for a reason — to enable was many New Yorkers as possible, including those of modest means, to be able to participate” in the Pope’s visit. And an attempt to “resell the tickets and profit from his time in New York goes against everything Pope Francis stands for.”
The view’s the same across the river.
“I would agree with Cardinal Dolan. That’s offensive to try to make money, sometimes thousands of dollars, on I guess on sale on the internet. I just don’t think it’s appropriate for tickets which are given freely and then people try to take advantage of other people to make money, doesn’t seem right to me,” said Archbishop John Myers.
Tens of thousands of tickets to various events have been distributed through a lottery organized by the cities of New York and Philadelphia, and the Archdiocese of each and city and Catholic groups.
Though some see scalping as distasteful, Attorney Jeff Pompeo says it’s not illegal. You can resell tickets for any price you want as long as you do it through a website, and you’re not a registered ticket broker.
“New Jersey law focuses on re-selling tickets to a ‘place of entertainment,’ which is a theater, a stadium or some place where there’s a performance and an entry fee is charged. So there is an argument that New Jersey law does not apply since the Pope is not appearing at a place of entertainment,” Pompeo said.
According to philly.com, all 10,000 free tickets to Sunday’s Papal Mass in that city sold out— in 30 seconds.
Six minutes later they appeared on Ebay.
Tickets to Sunday’s mass are being offered on Craigslist for $200 a piece. $350 for four people for Saturday’s Festival of Families. $400 for two to see the Pope in Central Park on Friday.
Some sellers are getting creative. These tickets are $150 each, but you can save 50 bucks if you donate $100 to charity. This seller is offering 10 free train tickets, with their $675 rental home, “Plus we will drive you there and back. Airport pickup is negotiable.”
And this seller is willing to swap “four Pope tickets” for four Eagles tickets, ”lower level only.”
One-day SEPTA passes are flooding Craigslist and Ebay. Four for Sunday, plus parking, for $200, but before you click buy SEPTA says they’re not sold out yet!
If these jacked-up prices seem a little steep, or unseemly, there’s always a front-row seat to the week’s festivities in front of your TV.