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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Spotlight / Day 1

Such A Deal

July 20, 1996|DOUG CRESS

Even as the Olympic flame was approaching the stadium Friday afternoon, tickets for the opening ceremonies were still available amid the throng that crowded Peachtree Street.

Some were even going for less than face value.

"The $600 tickets are going for about $450 but the $200 ones are going for about $300," one broker said.

New Yorker Jim Gold was one of the many dealers on the street flashing tickets in one hand and holding a cellular phone to his ear with the other.

"People want gymnastics and track," he said, nevertheless proclaiming it a buyers' market.

One man was preparing to start selling surplus hotel rooms.

"I'm doing it for a tour operator who got stuck with a bunch of rooms," he said, looking around for police officers. "I was going to hold up a sign. Do you think that's legal?"

According to Georgia law, it is illegal to sell any ticket for a sporting or entertainment event for more than $3 over face value, which allows for a service charge.

Officer E.H. Skelton of the Atlanta Police Department said violators would be given a warning for criminal trespass, but if they came back they would be arrested and jailed.

"You can't walk out of this building without somebody asking if you want tickets," Skelton said as he stood near the main ticket office. "They're being aggressive. We have a few plainclothes officers and they're being approached by scalpers."

William Gordon, an Ontario man who needed to sell tickets because he is returning to California to work for a few days, was holding up two tickets to the men's beach volleyball gold-medal match. He was offering them for their $69 face values, with no takers.

"People offer $20, $50," Gordon said. "I've been out here 45 minutes. I won't take less than face. I'm not looking to make a penny but I don't want to lose a penny. I'll give them to friends before I sell for less than face value."

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