No stranger to helping causes in and around his native Gulf Coast, it was no surprise when Jimmy Buffett stepped forward with plans for...

No stranger to helping causes in and around his native Gulf Coast, it was no surprise when Jimmy Buffett stepped forward with plans for a July 1 concert to benefit the region impacted by the ongoing BP oil spill.

It was also no surprise that free tickets for the event — booked for the public beach in Gulf Shores, AL — were gone within minutes when they became available to the public on June 23. But Gulf-area fans were soon upset to find some of the tickets cropping up for $100 or more on Internet auction hub, eBay.com.

According to The Associated Press, Ticketmaster.com distributed 35,000 free tickets during the June 23 sale, which lasted only 10 minutes before the limited ticket supplies were exhausted. Area fans reported long waits and connection problems during that time, followed quickly by the news that all available tickets were gone.

The musician’s online fan communities logged complaints from those who were left ticketless. One fan on Buffett’s official Facebook page commented, “This benefit concert should be cancelled. As it will only benefit the scalpers, the concert won’t do any good for our wildlife, residents and local economies.”

Alabama Governor Bob Riley also became involved in the furor, pledging to look into the ticket distribution process that left so many locals without admission. The governor’s spokesperson, Todd Stacy, was quoted by WKRG News 5 as saying, “This concert is to benefit the Gulf Coast, not to benefit ticket scalpers. The true beneficiaries need to be local businesses and the local economy of the Gulf Coast.”

But eBay responded quickly to the complaints. A few hours after tickets sold out and began appearing for resale, the online marketplace promised to pull the offending tickets from its site.

The company’s official statement noted, “While eBay in many cases allows the listing of event tickets that are initially distributed for free, we did not feel that the resale of free tickets to the Gulf Coast benefit concert was appropriate or consistent with the charitable spirit of the event. We will not allow the listing of these tickets on eBay or StubHub and will remove any existing listings.”

The policies of many online ticket marketplaces do not allow the resale of tickets for free benefit events. The eBay-owned marketplace StubHub blocked tickets for the event right from the start and will continue to do so, a representative explained to TicketNews.

Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band will appear with a series of special guests, like Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown, during the July 1 concert. A portion of the performance will be broadcast live on cable channel CMT, which will expand the concert’s potential audience beyond the 35,000 tickets that were distributed.

“If we could put 500,000 people safely on the beach, we would,” said CMT president Brian Philips in an interview with the Press-Register. “I guess I’m looking at it as, well, I’m glad we were able to get 35,000 people in, I’m glad we were able to make the broadcast available to an additional 90 million households via CMT.”

A statement on Buffett’s official Web site described the free show as an opportunity to “demonstrate support for the people, businesses and culture of the Gulf Coast.”

In addition to the special event, Buffett has a dozen other U.S. dates scheduled for the summer 2010 Under the Big Top Tour. His next show is June 26 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, WI, and his current itinerary extends through an October 23 concert at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV.

Jimmy Buffett itinerary:
(Dates are subject to change.)

June 26 East Troy, WI Alpine Valley Music Theatre
July 1 Gulf Shores, AL Gulf Shores Public Beach
August 7 -10 Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
August 12 Burgettstown, PA First Niagara Pavilion
August 14 Bridgeview, IL Toyota Park
August 31 Wantagh, NY Nikon At Jones Beach Theater
September 2 – 4 Bristow, VA Jiffy Lube Live
October 16 Mountain View, CA Shoreline Amphitheatre
October 19 Portland, OR Rose Garden Arena
October 21 Irvine, CA Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
October 23 Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena