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On June 14, the Administration and Public Works Committee rejected a proposed ordinance that would have prohibited anyone other than state-licensed ticket agents to sell tickets to Northwestern University athletic events “at face value or otherwise.” State law permits the resale of tickets to sporting events or other ticketed events, provided the resale price does not exceed the face value listed on the ticket. At the request of Northwestern University, however, City staff asked City Council to “amplify” and “reinforce” this state law by passing this proposed ordinance.

Aldermen on the Administration and Public Works Committee, however, said they saw no need for such an ordinance and at one point an alderman called the proposal “silly.”

Efforts to make ticket-reselling illegal in Evanston came before Council last year just before Northwestern’s football season began. At that time, the ticket-scalping aspects were overshadowed by efforts to eliminate peddlers and carts selling souvenirs around Ryan Field. Council voted to hold the matter of the peddlers and carts, pending a report from the City and the police department detailing problems around Northwestern athletic facilities on game days.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that staff decided to separate the two issues and return them to the aldermen as two proposed ordinances: one addressing ticket resales and the other revising the existing peddler ordinance (see sidebar).

City staff did not present a report presented regarding ticket scalping, and Police Chief Richard Eddington told the Committee members, in response to questioning, that the police department had made no arrests for scalping during Northwester’s football and basketball seasons. He said the reason for a lack of arrests was “a policy decision”: Arrests under the state law require booking at the station – a process that can take 60 to 90 minutes – and the department would rather have manpower on the street than in the station booking offenders for ticket-scalping.

The Illinois Ticket Scalping Law, 720 ILCS 375/1.5, makes it unlawful for anyone to sell tickets “for a price more than the price printed upon the face of the ticket. …”

Former mayoral candidate and professed Northwestern football season ticket holder Jeanne Lindwall said that on many game days patrons with extra tickets tried to sell them in the parking lot on the way into the game, but “I don’t know of an instance where anyone[was] selling tickets for above face value.”

No one at the Administration and Public Works Committee meeting could point to any evidence that scalping as defined under state law in fact takes place in Evanston.

Nevertheless, City staff recommended a new ordinance that would make it unlawful to “sell or resell Northwestern University athletic or exhibition tickets at face value or otherwise of any kind, on event days, within the corporate limits of the City of Evanston.”

Protests from the aldermen were immediate. Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, chair of the Administration and Public Works Committee, moved to hold the matter in committee before discussion even began. Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, then asked, “Why are we even meddling? … Why are we doing this?” Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, also made it clear she opposed the measure. With Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, recusing herself because she works for Northwestern and Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, choosing not to weigh in, none on the committee appeared willing to follow staff’s recommendation.

Ald. Rainey seemed particularly concerned with the ordinance’s special treatment of Northwestern athletic events over and above all other ticketed events in the City. She cited movie theater and dance recital tickets as being similarly situated and asked why City Council should be interested in regulating the sale of Northwestern athletics tickets.

City Attorney Grant Farrar responded by saying that a state law is currently in place, “but right now there’s no delineation of [Northwestern University] in our code.” Ald. Rainey asked, “But why is it necessary if there’s a state law and Northwestern has a fine legal team? Why are we involved?”

Ald. Rainey then asked Chief Eddington how many arrests had been made. His response, “none,” seemed to take Ald. Jean-Baptiste aback. “So you have not identified a need [for this ordinance],” he said. “Somebody told you there was a need [but] you have not identified [ticket scalping] to be a problem.”

Mr. Bobkiewicz then called upon Mr. Hurlburt to present the University’s position. Mr. Hurlburt said, “It is a problem for us.” Ald. Jean-Baptiste was not swayed, saying, “Some of us are not convinced it’s a problem.”

Ald. Rainey appeared to have had enough. “I just don’t understand why we’re going to all this trouble; it’s just silly,” she said.

Ald. Jean-Baptiste, with the Committee’s concurrence, held the matter in Committee “to get questions answered – or not.” City Manager Bobkiewicz said he would return to the Committee, saying, “We’ll bring more data.”

Peddler Ordinance Fares No Better

A proposed amendment to the City’s Peddlers and Solicitors ordinance was held in the Administration and Public Works Committee without being introduced.

A previous version seeking to ban the peddling of goods in a specific geographic area around Northwestern athletic facilities was considered by the City Council last fall. The stated reason for that proposed ordinance was congestion on Central Street on Northwestern football game days. At that time Council asked City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and Police Chief Richard Eddington to report to Council after football and basketball seasons about any problems and about the need for any changes to City ordinances.

When Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, asked City Manager Bobkiewicz for his report, he said, “”Here’s the big report: Peddlers should continue to peddle.”” … The revisions proposed on June 14 would make the ordinance applicable throughout the City rather than just around Northwestern University athletic facilities. Second, the proposal would limit to ten minutes the amount of time peddlers selling from “”vehicles or any form of conveyance”” could spend in any one location. Other peddlers would be able to remain in a single location for 30 minutes.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, asked, “”Does this mean that no peddler can stay on the public right of way for more than 30 minutes?””

“”Correct,”” said City Attorney Farrar. “”Peddlers’ stock in trade is [their] mobility.””

Mr. Bobkiewicz said that the time limit was part of the original ordinance and was not being enforced. “”Peddlers need to continue to peddle,”” he said. “”They need to be mobile.”” Such frequent movement of carts and peddlers around Ryan Field, and its effect on congestion and traffic, was not discussed.

Ald. Rainey said she disagreed with the entire concept. Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of grocery stores would not be lawful under the revisions, she said. The entire concept of the peddler, including the concept of mobility being their stock in trade, is antiquated, she added. “”The whole thing is antiquated… I’m not voting for it.””