Springsteen fans could face ticket shortage

February 2, 2012 8:05:14 PM PST
Tickets for Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball Tour at the HP Pavilion go on sale Friday at 10 a.m., but if sales for his other shows back East are any indication, many of the boss' fans are in for a disappointment because the number of available tickets may be quite limited.

The seating capacity for concerts at HP Pavilion is listed at just more 19,000, but a prominent San Francisco-based business close to the situation says the actual number of tickets sold at face value will be closer to 5,000 to 6,000.

"I think the dirty little secret in the music industry is how many tickets are actually on sale at the public on sales," said Glenn Lehrman with Stub Hub, an online ticket seller in the secondary market. He says concert promoters, venues, and sometimes the artists themselves hold back tickets to sell at inflated prices."Absolutely, we know this firsthand. We know firsthand that there are promoters and venues and artists selling on our site."

This could explain why so many fans that went online were shut out trying to get tickets for the New York and New Jersey shows. Those tickets went on sale last week. One frustrated fan lamented, "I feel like we're at Ticketmaster's mercy." Ticketmaster doesn't dispute that a certain number of tickets are held back, but says it's rarely more than 10 percent. It declined to give a specific number or to do an on-camera interview.

In an e-mail, a Ticketmaster spokesperson wrote, "The real issue is scalpers are using illegal means to grab tickets only to resell them at astronomical prices." It blamed scalpers who attacked the Ticketmaster online system using bots to grab all the tickets. UC Berkeley computer science professor David Wagner explained, "Online, unfortunately, it's too easy to game. It's too easy for bad guys to pretend to be thousands of separate individuals, each who gets a shot at a separate set of tickets. Boom, instantaneously, they're all gone."

StubHub confirmed that tickets on its secondary market site were available immediately after they went on sale to the public for the New York and New Jersey shows. In fact, 7 On Your Side found tickets for Springsteen's concert in San Jose available online on the secondary market a day before they are officially supposed to go on sale.

New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell says it's time to regulate the problem. "I would keep the secondary broker out of it at least 24 hours after the tickets go on," he says.

On the other hand, Lehrman at StubHub says, "I don't think there's any need to regulate the secondary market. I think the secondary market has proven to have consumer benefits."

Concert promoter AEG Live sent 7 On Your Side a statement saying, "Neither the artist, promoter, or venue will hold any tickets for resale in the secondary market for the upcoming Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performance at the HP Pavilion."

HP Pavilion declined to comment for this story, referring all inquiries to the concert promoter AEG Live. Efforts to reach the Springsteen band were unsuccessful.