Less than five hours into public onsales on October 24, the first 20 concerts of Garth Brooks‘ residency at Encore Theater at the Wynn in Las Vegas, NV, sold out.
The Wynn’s phone lines and Web site faced an overload as requests came pouring in during the early Saturday onsales. According to the resort, nearly 142,000 calls came in to the Wynn before the system reached maximum capacity, and the Web site received more than 5.4 million views with about 40,000 people waiting in an Internet queue for tickets at any given time.
The tickets may be gone, but plenty of questions remain regarding the Wynn’s ticketing procedures for the first shows of Brooks’ five year residency in Las Vegas. The country legend’s initial concerts are scheduled for December 11-13, January 1-3, January 22-24, and February 12-14 and 26-28.
The Vegas resort, under the command of CEO Steve Wynn, has put a multi-tiered and complex anti-scalping program in effect to combat the resale of tickets for the performances. The move did not come as a surprise since Wynn hinted at his plans to combat ticket resale in an October 15 press conference with Brooks. However, the extent of the program did catch some off guard.
Anyone who purchased tickets during the October 24 onsale was given a deadline of October 27 at 12 p.m. (PT) to supply the name of every guest in their party or risk immediate cancellation of their orders. Prior to the deadline, the resort had been reaching out to buyers via phone calls and e-mail notices, which asked for the completion of an online ticket reservation verification form.
According to the form Web site, even after supplying the names of all guests in a group, ticket holders will face additional obstacles on the day of the show. Every member of the party must have a valid photo ID that matches their reservation in order for tickets to be tendered. Photo IDs will be checked a second time as the ticket holders enter Encore Theater for the performance.
“While we understand that this is an inconvenience, it is especially so for the unauthorized sellers,” the Wynn’s verification statement read. “Our efforts, initiatives and communication with you may continue until such a point we are satisfied that all scalping activity has ceased.”
The hard stance against ticket resale is not necessarily a surprise for those familiar with Brooks’ ticketing practices from the heyday of his career. The country musician often priced his tickets well below market value — with flat rates of $25 in some cases — to make his concerts more accessible to fans.
While tickets for his Vegas show weren’t set at $25, they were priced low for an A-list act on the Strip, reportedly at Brooks’ request. Face values were set at $125, plus a $5 service charge and $13 tax.
In addition to its overall customer outreach, the Wynn also sent correspondence directly to suspected scalpers, alerting them that resales by unauthorized parties are not allowed. The notice explained that any ticket resold for more than its $143 total value would be subject to cancellation.
The Wynn’s limitations on its tickets’ resale price is in accordance with Las Vegas municipal code, which states that it is unlawful to sell tickets for more than face value.
The notice read, in part: “Management reserves the right to cancel any ticket and refund the face value of the ticket to the ticket holder, if management determines, in its sole and absolute discretion, that such ticket was purchased from a ticket reseller at an amount in excess of face value.”
While Wynn has been open about his crusade against ticket resale, he was also not shy about detailing the number of tickets being held by the casino for its patrons. During his mid-October press conference with the country performer, Wynn said holdbacks would range anywhere from 10 to 200 tickets per night.
Wynn noted that the exact number of holdbacks would be “conservative” until there was a better understanding of demand for Brooks’ weekend performances. Despite his initial openness about the holds, more details have been difficult to come by.
According to a spokesperson for Wynn Resorts and Encore Theater, details about the exact amount of ticket holds for the first 20 shows are unavailable. Similarly, the resort would not release the exact number of tickets sold for the first round of Brooks’ five-year residency.
The theater has a total capacity of slightly less than 1,500 seats. If approximately 1,500 tickets were sold to each performance, that would set October 24 sales for the residency at about 30,000 tickets. However, the exact seating capacity for Brooks’ residency was also not answered by representatives at the Wynn.