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Cortney Storsved, director of operations for Minnesota's leading secondary ticket reseller Ticket King offers a defense of the resale market in a column this week in the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Storsved was responding to an earlier piece in the publication that appeared to take a stance in favor of paperless ticketing, in part because some resellers may not be paying taxes on the proceeds of their sales. Storsved said that was not true, stressing that she could "assure you that the state is receiving their cut of the taxes from secondary market sales. We spend countless man hours and money ensuring that our accounting system is in line with the guidelines laid out by the Department of Revenue." Minnesota is one of several states currently considering new regulations concerning the use of paperless tickets.
Nightclubs are becoming more popular than concerts and shows in Las Vegas, according to local ticket broker Ken Solky, who is also president of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. Solky recently told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that while certain big draws such as Celine Dion, Lady Gaga and Elton John remain popular, a lot of other shows, concerts and boxing matches have been disappointments, like a recent performance by Britney Spears and a fight between Amir Khan and Zab Judah. "The crowd that's coming here from spring to the end of summer, so far, is here to party in the club, party in the pool and drink, which includes the DJ deal," Solky said.
Christine Varney, the assistant attorney general who ran the U.S. Justice Department's antitrust division, is stepping down from her post. Varney ran the division during the federal review of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger, and according to the Wall Street Journal, she is resigning in August to join the prestigious New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. During Varney's tenure at the top of the antitrust division, the DOJ took an aggressive approach to investigating mergers, and in the case of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation deal, the DOJ required several concessions from the two before the department would approve the agreement.
Unable to stop losing millions of dollars each season, the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team has been sold to a Canadian ownership group that will move the team to Winnipeg next year. True North Sports and Entertainment paid $170 million for the franchise, according to the Toronto Sun, which included $60 million in relocation fees that the NHL will split among the other 29 teams. The Thrashers are the second NHL team to leave Atlanta; in 1980 the Atlanta Flames moved to Calgary and became the Calgary Flames. True North hopes to sell 13,000 season tickets before the June 21 NHL Board of Governors meeting where the deal expected to be ratified. Season tickets will cost between $39 and $139 per seat. During the 2010-11 regular season, the Thrashers only averaged about 14,000 fans per game.
StubHub President Chris Tsakalakis is continuing his media push to tell fans of the problems he sees with restrictive paperless tickets. In a lengthy blog post this week on the Huffington Post, Tsakalakis argues that the technology, primarily used by Ticketmaster, takes away choice as it pertains to tickets. Out of 1,000 concert fans recently polled by Wakefield, 95 percent believe they own the tickets they buy and should be allowed to do whatever they want with them. "Just as fans appreciate having choice for where they buy their event tickets, they also appreciate having choice in what they do with those tickets," Tsakalakis wrote.
StubHub President and CEO Chris Tsakalakis said to CNBC's Darren Rovell that he was proud of the way the company handled and overcame the BCS ticket scandal, and that the issue with Ticketmaster's new dynamic pricing initiative isn't that tickets are not priced correctly at the beginning, it's that there is a low of supply of tickets due to holdbacks and a lack of transparency. In a wide-ranging interview with the business channel, Tsakalakis also defended the company's secondary ticketing deal with Major League Baseball and said that there is a place in the market for purveyors of distressed ticket inventory like ScoreBig.
Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard recently told CNBC that the company's new dynamic pricing initiative is essentially a "re-imagining" of the "concept of face value" concerning ticket prices, but that fans will not see much of a difference. Hubbard's comments came during a conversation with Darren Rovell where Hubbard explained that with fans already used to often paying a premium for tickets on the secondary market, he sees dynamic pricing as an efficient way to better price events correctly. He also said the system allows sports teams and bands to set ticket prices accordingly. "We think about it this way: Teams and bands know what is best for their fans. It is their business. They should be able to connect directly with their fans on the terms they see fit," he said.
Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff and President and CEO Michael Rapino made a combined $38.7 million in compensation from the company in 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal and financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Rapino received $15.9 million in total compensation, while Azoff received $22.8 million. The pair's separate compensation packages increased in 2010 and included salary, stock and certain incentive bonuses, which were partly tied to the completion and performance of the Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger. The compensation packages grew despite the company's increased net loss and declining operating income, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Artists and promoters routinely withhold tickets and resell them through secondary ticket marketplace Web site StubHub.com, even though they do not disclose that fact to the public, according to StubHub communications head Glenn Lehrman. In an interview with Evolver.fm, Lehrman made clear that ticket resellers are not the main reason for high prices, instead stating that he does not believe the use of software bots — software that can surreptitiously scoop up large blocks of tickets — is nearly as pervasive among brokers as reported. Unfettered marketplaces like StubHub simply reveal what fans are willing, or not willing, to pay for tickets, and a lot of the blame for why prices are high can be laid at the feet of artists and promoters who only release a percentage of available tickets to the general public. "I can tell you for a fact that I know a number of artists and promoters list substantial amounts of tickets for their tours through StubHub, because that’s probably what they want to charge for a ticket, but can’t do so publicly," he said.
West Coast college student Jonathan Zairi thought that buying season tickets to the Miami Heat would prove to be a lucrative investment, following the signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and the re-signing of Dwayne Wade. Zairi thought he would be able to resell the tickets and possibly pocket $10,000 in profit, but according to CNBC, the move has been anything but lucrative. The 21-year-old has lost more than $2,000 and won't renew his season tickets next year, because the resale market for Heat tickets has been soft, in part because of the team's occasional struggles on the court. Zairi figures the only way he'll recoup his investment is if the team makes the NBA finals.