Michael Marion, general manager of Alltel Arena in North Little Rock, AR, has a bone to pick with anyone who resells tickets.

The 25-year entertainment industry veteran is aggressively taking on ticket scalpers and brokers with a blistering letter he recently emailed to fans on the arena’s mailing list entitled “Alltel Arena vs. The Scalpers,” in which he makes it clear that if you resell a ticket to an event at the facility, he considers you the enemy.

“I’ve always been opposed to scalping as long as it’s been around,” Marion told TicketNews in an exclusive interview. “With paperless ticketing, we now have a functional way to get the tickets in the hands of the fan, at the price the artist wants. With the recent press scalping has gotten, and people still simmering from their Hannah Montana experience here a couple of years ago, I wanted to let them know our stance and what we were doing.”

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Alltel Arena serves as one of the beta sites for Ticketmaster Entertainment’s paperless ticketing initiative, which has been a source of some controversy in recent weeks over the decision by the Miley Cyrus tour to go entirely paperless for this year’s North American trek. Ticket scalping is legal in Arkansas, but not for concerts and college sporting events, and only after tickets have been made available to the general public. Tickets to High school and charitable events also cannot be resold above face value.

As a test site, Alltel Arena has held several paperless ticket shows, and Marion said the venue has never experienced a problem with people growing frustrated with the non-transferability of paperless tickets. The lack of the ability to transfer or resell paperless tickets, coupled with the inconvenience of having to wait in long lines while individual credit cards at swiped at the gate, are among the biggest complaints about paperless tickets.

“In all the paperless shows we have had, [transferability] has not been an issue. The vast majority of people buying paperless tickets (usually 3,000-4,000) are loyal fans who will do whatever it takes to be at a show. The notion of wanting to transfer their ticket is just not an issue. They want to be at the show. From what I have seen, scalpers are the only people who worry about transferability.”

For Marion, his decision to come out against scalping comes down to simple economics; the more shows a fan attends the more opportunities Alltel Arena has to generate revenue.

“As a building manager, I want people to be able to afford to come to more than one show a year. If they can get a ticket at face value, maybe they’ll have enough to see three or four shows. If they pay scalper prices, they may only come to one,” Marion said. “I’ve never had a patron call and say they are glad they bought from a scalper at an inflated price instead of us, at face price. So no, I don’t see any circumstance where scalping is a good thing.”

The text of Marion’s email, “Alltel Arena vs. The Scalpers”:

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As you may have read, scalpers have been in the news lately and I’d like to share some information about scalping and what we are doing to try to stop this deplorable practice from occurring for Alltel Arena shows.

– Alltel Arena has always believed that fans of a show should buy the tickets at the price the artist sets.

– Scalping is illegal in Arkansas, but out of state scalpers are still buying our tickets and ripping customers off.

– Unfortunately, most scalping occurs on the internet and out of reach of Arkansas law.

– Most scalpers will list tickets they don’t even have and that aren’t yet on sale. Arkansas has passed a law to prohibit this practice. Let’s hope the scalpers follow the law, but based on the way scalpers have traditionally behaved, they will probably ignore it. They also list sections, rows and seats that don’t exist. If you want to buy from a scalper, it’s Buyer Beware.

– Most scalpers list the same tickets on multiple sites and that’s why it looks like the scalpers have a bunch of tickets.

– With instructions from the artist, we build the ticket map for each show and monitor how they are sold thru Ticketmaster, who acts as our ticketing services provider.

– While Ticketmaster owns TicketsNow, a scalping site, Ticketmaster has honored Arkansas’ anti-scalping laws, so you won’t find tickets for any events in Arkansas on the TicketsNow website.

Here are a few things we do to try to thwart the scalpers:

– On the day of an on-sale, we work with the artist to limit the number of tickets one person can buy on the 1st day of sales. If we (or Ticketmaster) find duplicate orders, we void them.

– Recently, Ticketmaster has introduced a new scalper-fighting technology called paperless ticketing. We have used it on most of our shows this year. This requires the person who bought the tickets to come to the event with ID and credit card in hand in order to get in. In addition to new scanners, each ticket taker has a printer that prints your seat location right at the door.

– We are a beta site for this new hardware/software, but we have found that it has been very effective in getting the tickets into the hands of the fans as opposed to the scalpers.

– Like any new idea, it has some limitations, such as the fact that you must buy them on-line or by phone. Paperless tickets are not available at Ticketmaster outlets or the Alltel Arena Box Office. You may purchase these tickets only online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone (800-745-3000). We continue to work with Ticketmaster to improve our service.

– The number of paperless tickets offered depends on the show, but it usually involves 3,000-4,000 of the best seats. Scalpers are not usually interested in ripping you off for seats at the top of the building.

– Since starting paperless ticketing, we have noticed a marked decrease in the number of tickets available on scalping sites to Alltel Arena events.

– More and more touring attractions are using paperless ticketing and it will continue to grow in use.

Rest assured that the Alltel Arena is committed to making sure that fans get their tickets at the price the artist sets. If you have questions, feel free to go to the Contact Us link on our web-site – we answer every e-mail we get. Thank you. We hope to see you at a show.


Michael Marion

GM, Alltel Arena

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