This story was updated at 4:22 p.m. EST on Monday, December 6, 2010, to add comments from Van Andel Arena spokesperson Lynne Ike.
Fans attending a Michael Bublé concert Friday night, December 3, in Grand Rapids, MI experienced long lines in below-freezing temperatures as the venue’s paperless ticketing system caused delays at the gate.
The Van Andel Arena only had one main entrance where most fans cued up to have their paperless tickets scanned, and doors opened for the 8 p.m. EST show at 7 p.m. EST, but there were two other entrances opened also that were less utilized. WOOD-TV reported that the entry problems arose from an undisclosed “computer coding” issue. Area ticket broker Dan Racey, owner of Row2tickets.com, who attended the show to scan in several customers, told TicketNews that he did not encounter any computer coding issues, but entry to the show took longer than 45 minutes in some cases.
“I believe I’ve attended three shows at the Van Andel, with AC/DC, being the first,” Racey said. “The lines have been terrible each time.”
Lines to gain entry to the Bublé show Friday night stretched an entire city block, WOOD-TV reported, and at 7:05 p.m. EST the temperature outside was about 30 degrees but felt like 24 degrees, according to Weather.com. The Van Andel seats about 12,000 people.
Lynne Ike, director of marketing for the Van Andel, told TicketNews that any issues that may have occurred at the gate were quickly resolved, but she did not elaborate on what specifically caused the problem. “We are anticipating a full report from Ticketmaster to completely understand the problem.”
Though the arena has a main entrance, it also has entrances at the southeast and southwest corners of the building that were also open for the show.
“With a sold-out show we always provide staff at each entrance to get the patrons in quickly,” she said. “The lobby was clear by 8:25 p.m. EST, so no one missed Bublé as he took the stage at 9:00 p.m.”
Scanners are used for paperless ticket shows to scan the credit cards of ticket purchasers to verify the sale. The Van Andel’s paperless ticket system is by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster division; the technology is being implemented at an increasing number of venues and used by more artists as a way to thwart ticket resale and offer fans secure tickets.
Ticketmaster has long touted the system’s convenience for fans, because they can never lose their ticket as long as they have the credit card used for the purchase. But, the system has caused headaches for many fans who were stuck in long lines or confronted with malfunctioning technology.
Last month, paperless ticket scanners reportedly failed in Kentucky at a Justin Bieber show at the KFC Yum! Center, and fans at one of the teen singer’s shows in New Jersey also experienced some issues.
In addition, Ticketmaster’s paperless ticketing system does not allow for the easy transfer of tickets by friends, family or ticket brokers. Prior to the December 3 show, one fan learned that the only way he could give his tickets to friends — because he could not attend the show — was to give them copies of his credit card and drivers’ license, a move that almost renders the security aspect of paperless tickets moot.