By Elliot Stern Most of us grew up in an era when there were two ways to buy tickets to concerts or other theatrical...

By Elliot Stern

Most of us grew up in an era when there were two ways to buy tickets to concerts or other theatrical events. You could either go down to the box office and buy the ticket from the theater itself or you could charge by phone. But times have certainly changed. Online outlets, ticket auctions, ticket bulletin boards, and brokers have created a whole new world in which to buy tickets. Some of it is bad, but to a savvy shopper, a lot of it can spell getting excellent tickets at a reduced price.

Ticketmaster is no longer the only option you’ll find when shopping for online tickets, but the real blow to the Ticketmaster empire has come from companies like New Era Tickets, who have come up with a new way of reorganizing the playing field. New Era Tickets, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment firm Comcast-Spectacor, specializes in creating “total package” arrangements with entertainment venues. New Era Tickets recently became the official ticket provider for all events at the 21,000-seat Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, a facility owned by Comcast-Spectacor. Operators and owners who select New Era Tickets as a marketing partner are allowed the opportunity to sell the naming rights of the ticketing company, which occurred in Philadelphia, as ComcastTIX sells tickets for all Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum events. The company (New Era Tickets) operates as ComcastTIX in Philadelphia, PA, as well as in Portland, OR, and Fort Collins, CO, and as Dahls tickets in Des Moines, IA, where the company sells tickets for events at the four-facility complex Iowa Events Center.New Era Tickets, under their subsidiary name of ComcastTix, just signed an agreement with the management of the venue this past August that made them the sole ticket providers for the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum. Fred Maglione, president of New Era Tickets outlined the potential effect that the Wachovia Complex Center deal would have:”Our goal is to make ComcastTIX the place to go when you think of buying tickets in the Philadelphia area. We are now the only ticket vendor for the Wachovia Center Complex, a center where over four million ticket holding customers attend concerts and events every year, and this is just one of several complexes around the country we currently hold ticket selling arrangements with.

When you want to buy a ticket to the Wachovia Center or to any event in several of our other venues, we don’t compete with anyone, we’re the only company you can buy those tickets from. We’ve worked hard at offering extra perks to our clients and ticket purchasers that have allowed us to make an impact on the markets we’re in. At this time there are probably 500,000 additional tickets in the Philly area that we’re hoping to sell through ComcastTIX.”Four million ticket holding customers (and half a million more potential ones).

Industry estimates say that in 2005 the average concert ticket sold for $57. Four million of those would work out to $228 million in ticket sales that have potentially moved from Ticketmaster to New Era Tickets, and that’s in just one of several of the venues they now control around the country.By owning the facility and managing ticket sales, Comcast-Spectacor is able to create a package that’s hard to compete with.

“ComcastTIX provides us with many new and exciting opportunities for our customers,” said Comcast-Spectacor Vice President of Public Relations Ike Richman. “We’re very ecstatic about the new company and we have seen steady sales with all of our events. The transition has been seamless.”

Granted, with ticket prices going up year after year, the actual books down at the Ticketmaster’s offices may not show much of a decline, but if you calculate the percentages of market share, which once stood at nearly 100% in favor of Ticketmaster, the market is now rapidly spreading out to include many other primary tickets sellers. Ticketmaster representatives declined to comment.