You'd Have to Give These Tickets Away

Another month, another ticket scandal.

I know I should be in high dungeon about Mother Jones' report that the oil giant BP, of "oops-we-ruined-the-Gulf-of-Mexico" fame, has long maintained a phone hotline so that state officials can call up and get tickets to games at Sacramento's Arco Arena.

But I can't summon the outrage.

Yes, giving legislators and other employees in the Capitol special access to events doesn't look good. Even if this can't be called outright corruption, it's wrong for people in power to get special privileges. And when you consider that California is the only oil-producing state without an oil severance tax, you should be suspicious of any oil company largesse.

So why won't this register on the outrage meter? Because powerful people getting access to great concert and sports tickets is a dog-bites-man kind of story. It happens all the time. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is under investigation for accepting tickets, and a quick check of news clips shows similar reports about high-profile elected officials all over the country.

The other problem is that the economics of the modern-sports arena practically guarantees it. Most individuals can't afford the luxury boxes that fill stadiums, and the few who do are too smart to pay for such luxuries themselves. That's what corporations are for. To fill those boxes, companies give tickets away. And in choosing who to give tickets to, they naturally choose people -- government officials and others -- with whom they need to maintain good relations. BP's giving away tickets isn't extraordinary; it's merely a business model working as it's designed to do.

OK, and I must admit that there's one reason I'm outraged: Los Angeles snobbery. Arco Arena is a pit. There's been talk for years of building a replacement. The only way this Angeleno would go to Arco is if someone else paid for the ticket. They don't even have a professional sports team there.

Oh, really. You mean the Sacramento Kings are still playing in the NBA?

Go Lakers.

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