Author: Dave Brooks
Date: October 10,2007

A Wednesday announcement by the Missouri Attorney General reveals
one of the main factors behind the controversy with record sellouts
of Hannah Montana tickets.According to reports from Missouri
Attorney General Jay Nixon and officials from the Sprint Center in
Kansas City, only 4,000 tickets out of 11,000 were released on
Ticketmaster during the regular on-sale for the venue’s Dec.
3 date. According to Shani Tate Ross, spokesperson for the Sprint
Center — 5,000 tickets for the concert went to fan club
members and another 2,000 went to members of the facility’s
VIP Arena Club — a subscription-based seating area for
potential season ticket holders. At the 21,000-seat Scottrade
Center, over 10,000 seats were reserved for artist holds, according
to the Attorney General report.The two venues are the first to
release how many tickets were made available to the public through
on-sales, fan clubs and preferred sales groups — partially
due to pressure from the Attorney General’s office. In total,
there are 53 arenas and concert facilities scheduled for the
tour.“If you’re going to keep 60 to 70 percent of
tickets and not tell the public, you’re going to have some
problems,” said Don Vaccaro, CEO of secondary marketplace
TicketNetwork. “I was shocked when I heard they held back
7,000 seats in the Kansas show. I don’t think it happens to
this degree all the time. This is really the first time that it
actually made it to light that it was this many tickets.”The
Hannah Montana concert came under heavy scrutiny after selling out
in a matter of minutes in dozens of U.S. cities. Many parents were
angered after unsuccessfully attempting to purchase tickets, only
to later find them on secondary websites for sometimes tenfold
prices. Ticketmaster even sued a Pittsburgh software company,
alleging the firm was producing software that enabled ticket
brokers to make thousands of ticket requests in the amount of time
it would take a customer to make one attempt to buy a ticket
— a violation of the company’s service
agreement.Regardless of the factors, many agree the concert would
have likely been a quick sellout, commanding high prices on the
secondary sites like StubHub and TicketNetwork. Many brokers are
describing the incident as the perfect storm for a public relations
disaster — artists holding back on tickets, brokers asking
for exorbitant prices and politicians intervening as images of
crying children fill the pages of local
newspapers.“We’re seeing a lot more scrutiny because of
the new novice ticket-buyer who is up in arms and has appealed to
their local state government,” said Sean Pate, spokesperson
for StubHub. “The dynamic that is being experienced by the
average middle-American family is not different from what the
average concert-goer goes through for big acts like The Police or
Van Halen.”In response to the controversy over the tickets,
Ross said the Sprint Center and the Scottrade Center had agreed to
release additional tickets.“We’ve worked with the
promoter to reconfigure the stage in a way that allows us to sell
1,000 more seats,” she said. “We plan to release them
in pairs of 500 on Oct. 20.”The tickets will be priced at
$26, $43.40 and $56. Only residents with a zip code in the metro
Kansas City area will be allowed to purchase the tickets and buyers
must present their credit card and identification at the box office
when picking up the tickets.“The goal is to discourage the
reselling of these tickets,” she explained.The revelation has
cooled some charges of unfairness against the secondary ticketing
community, although Nixon’s office said it plans to continue
its pursuit of several ticket brokers it believes acted
unlawfully.Nixon’s office said it received about 30
complaints from consumers trying to purchase tickets to the shows
at the designated on-sale time only to discover the shows were
already sold out. A broker in Overland Park, Kan., along with two
other brokers in Springfield, Ill., reportedly sold tickets to
investigators from Nixon's office for prices ranging from $254 to
$305 when the face value was $26 to $56.“These companies are
able to employ inappropriate means, using sophisticated software,
to hoard all the tickets to high-demand events and then turn around
and sell them at grossly inflated prices,” Nixon said in a
statement. “It’s a blatant rip-off of consumers who
attempt to purchase tickets in good faith through the proper means
and are met with nothing but frustration.”Nixon's office
filed the lawsuits in Jackson County Circuit Court and seeks
restitution and court orders that the brokers obey ticket-selling
laws, though the specific laws referenced were not revealed.Nixon
announced in a release on Thursday that those prices violated
Missouri’s consumer protection laws and also ran afoul of a
Kansas City municipal ordinance banning scalping. — Dave
Brooks Interviewed for this story: Shani Tate Ross, (816) 949-7170;
Don Vaccaro, (877) 486-3435 x 109; Sean Pate, (415) 222-8442