Paterno memorial service tickets posted for sale on eBay

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It took minutes Tuesday morning for Penn State University officials to run out of free tickets to Joe Paterno's Thursday memorial service.

It didn't take much longer for the American entrepreneurial spirit -- some might say greed -- to kick in.

Shortly after the university handed out all tickets to the memorial service, scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the 16,000-seat Bryce Jordan Center, some recipients took to the Internet to capitalize.

A pair of tickets on the online auction site eBay drew bids close to $100,000 before the site pulled the listing.

"EBay's event ticket resale policy does not allow the sale of tickets to events in which all tickets are free to the public," Amanda Coffee, an eBay spokeswoman, said in an email. "In accordance with the policy, eBay will not allow the sale of tickets to Joe Paterno's memorial service."

But that did not stop people from trying. Or getting creative.

An eBay user named "amishlou" from Lancaster County tried to bypass the company's policy by selling a "We Love JoePa" T-shirt that included two "free" tickets to the memorial service. Before eBay removed that listing, bidding reached $83,623. EBay does not consider bids on prohibited items to be binding, so it's likely the exorbitant bids were an attempt to draw the company's attention and disrupt the auction.

"I hate to sell these, but seeing the value of them I need the money to pay for my daughter's wedding," the user wrote. "If they are worth that much to someone to go, I'd love to make it available to them. I truly did get these for myself and my husband and we so badly want to be there, but with our current financial situation cannot justify passing up this opportunity."

Several other listings popped up on the site throughout the day, before eBay took them down.

Word of the secondary ticket market reached the floor of the Penn State Faculty Senate, where university president Rodney Erickson addressed the issue.

"I can't tell you how reprehensible I find this action," he said.

Mr. Erickson said the university and its police are doing what they can to stop ticket resale, but there are legal limitations.

He said he hoped anybody who sells the tickets will donate the money to the Pennsylvania Special Olympics or THON, the two charities preferred by the Paterno family.

On Craigslist, most posts were from people seeking, not selling, tickets. And any posts that sought to sell the tickets were flagged by users and removed from the site.

An anonymous user who claimed to be a 2006 Penn State graduate offered to drive from Pittsburgh to State College for a free ticket. And the post offered a sharp critique for anyone trying to capitalize on the event.

"I'm not looking to pay anything for the ticket," the user wrote. "And you should be ashamed if you try to scalp them. RIP Joe."


Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com , 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino.


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