Chicago Sun-Times
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Because life around Wrigley isn't already unpleasant enough during baseball season...

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Giant national concert promoters Live Nation--soon to be rechristened Live Nation Entertainment if the proposed merger with dreaded ticket brokers Ticketmaster goes through--have announced not one but two more concerts at the baseball stadium this summer.

Having sold out the previously announced concert on Tuesday, July 21, Billy Joel and Elton John will make a second appearance a few days earlier on Thursday, July 16. Those tickets go on sale Monday, February 23, at noon at prices ranging from $55 to $175.00 through the officially sanctioned Major League Baseball ticket brokers, www.tickets.com (1-800-THE-CUBS).

The Friendly Confines also will present the country-pop act Rascal Flatts with special guest Darius Rucker (a.k.a. Hootie of the Blowfish) on Saturday July 18. Live Nation did not announce any ticket prices or any details about ticket sales for that show.

In the past, Wrigley has only hosted music every other year, and never more than one act per season. This year, anyone living within at least a mile of the stadium really should plan on scheduling their summer vacation so as to miss all three shows, if at all possible.

In more Live Nation news, the company also announced an extremely unusual move for the Elton/Billy shows. According to its press release:

Due to the fact that there was no previous intention for multiple performances, purchasers of the July 21st concert who would prefer to attend Thursday, July 16th have the opportunity to swap their tickets for the added concert date. The tickets will be exchanged for comparable locations only and cannot be used for upgrades. Please visit http://www.eltonandbillychicagoticketswap.com to the deadline of 5 pm on Saturday February 21st to participate in this special offer.

What is that about? A major thrust of the Live Nation/Ticketmaster merger is a desire by both companies to reclaim the portion of their business that has been ceded to the so-called "secondary market"--a.k.a. ticket scalpers, if you want to call them what they really are. Now, if we want to be generous, perhaps 1 out of 100 tickets that are resold are done so by legitimate fans who subsequently discover they cannot attend the performance they originally purchased tickets for; the rest are resold at obscene prices by scalpers, with none of that extra profit going to the promoters.

Is Live Nation Entertainment preparing to make the argument that a new policy such as this one will allow legit fans to resell tickets, while the mega-corp gears up to take over all secondary ticket sales itself? Stay tuned.

Finally, it's worth noting that tickets.com is adding service fees to those Billy and Elton tickets that are almost as obnoxious and unreasonable as those routinely tacked on by Ticketmaster--even for the special "neighborhood residents-only" pre-sales. As one correspondent wrote me:

Just wanted to let you know that I got Billy Joel/Elton John tix for Wrigley today through the neighborhood presale. I got 4 midlevel tickets and was charged over $90 in service charges by tickets.com, with an additional $4.50 to mail the tickets (cheaper than the $7.50 to print them). During the 2008 baseball season, the service charge for tickets in any section was $4.19 per ticket. Is the frightening future of online ticket sales already here? Does the Ticketmaster merger actually matter? Nothing would make me happier than to see you mention these ridiculous service charges in your column and inspire some outcry.

Consider the mentioning done. As for the outcry, it's up to consumer to let promoters and ticket brokers know when they really are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

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14 Comments

Jim wrote: "As for the outcry, it's up to consumer to let promoters and ticket brokers know when they really are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."

The only thing these money-grubbing jackholes understand is bottom-line profits. The way to get under their skin is to simply not go to the shows. That sucks, especially for people who really love Elton John or (gah!) Billy Joel, or your run-of-the-mill, fill-in-the-blank stadium band; but it's the only way to get them to figure out that these concerts are not working for your average fan, not at the prices they're charging.

I laud the correspondent who wrote in complaining about the $90 fees on the John & Joel tickets, but if s/he was really that P.O.'d about it, why bother going at all? Lord knows, Billy Joel and Elton John don't need the money; and even if they did, most of it's going to Live Nation, anyways.

The way to stage a good protest is to go on strike and hit them in their pockets. Otherwise, they're just going to keep jacking up the prices and hidden fees until we're all royally screwed.

SO much for going to beautiful wrigley field, remember how trashed the field was after the Police concert a couple of years ago

What is the neighborhood presale?? I tried to get tickets for the Elton John/Billy Joel concert and was not able to get them last weekend. I live right next to Wrigley Field and am hoping to get tickets to this second performance.

"This year, anyone living within at least a mile of the stadium really should plan on scheduling their summer vacation so as to miss all three shows, if at all possible."

From the above statement I assume that you typically plan vacation for the entire span of 82 home baseball games each year? Renters/owners living within a mile of the stadium know EXACTLY what they are getting themselves into by signing a lease or purchasing a residence near the ballpark. If you are unhappy that Wrigley continues to host large-scale entertainment events, then you should have done more research before moving to the area. I live 4 blocks from the ballpark, and although I deal with the high pedestrian traffic and difficult parking situations, I also could not be happier that Wrigley Field has continued to welcome large musical acts (as well as the NHL) to their historic venue. To Live Nation, keep them coming! To Jim, good luck with that all-summer vacation, we won't miss you!

I agree with Happy Neighbor, for someone to complain about noise who is living around the ballpark should have their head examined. Last time I checked the Cubs have been playing there longer than most of the people now living in the neighborhood. Thats like complaining about airplane noise and living by the airport.

Happy Neighbor:

While I don't disagree that the noise complaint is rather sophomoric, your unabashed enthusiasm for Live Nation worries me greatly. I kind of think you missed the point of this article by focusing only on the "noise" element. The greater issue is that Live Nation is jacking up the prices and has been for years -- and now, with their merger with Ticketmaster, there will be little-to-no transparency with those prices, meaning people are going to be priced out the way they have been from those beloved Cubs games (though the Cubs haven't been as bad as, say, the Bears or Bulls).

I certainly hope you have a job that pays you very well. At this moment in my life, I don't, so I can't go to see a lot of these shows, and I sure as hell can't afford to pay an extra $20, plus pay for parking near Wrigley or at the Blue Line station by my house (which also entails getting one of those ever-price-hiking El passes). Consider what these tickets cost, at their cheapest, for someone who doesn't live near the Friendly Confines:

$55 for cheap-seat tickets
approximately $15 in service fees
$5 "printing" charge"
$5 tax
at least $15 to Park and Ride or park by Wrigley
$30 bare minimum to get the least amount of food possible either in Wrigley itself or around Wrigleyville. 'Cause let's face it, a night out is a night out. And that's not even counting having a beer or two.

So at the very least, we're talking about $110 per person, give or take. It could easily jump to $150 after a few drinks. You don't think that's a little crazy?

And besides, with the economy as crappy as it is, and with the outlook as dismal as it seems, is this really a time we want to be encouraging people to save up for one concert on one night, rather than pumping money into the economy by having lower prices and spreading that gain out over a substantial period of time, which encourages both spending and consumption?

Hey Jim - thanks for the thorough reporting! Had to update my blog post to change my speculation of a 3rd Elton-Billy show for 7/18 into the Rascal Flatts/Darius Rucker billing.

I think concerts at Wrigley are a real treat - as long as they stay special events and not regular cash-grabs.

Here's my updated blog post: http://blog.cubhub.net/2009/02/19/elton-billy-add-second-show/

Thanks for the heads up. I live just north of the Sheridan El and I had not even heard that another geriatric rock n roll mall-walkers tour was coming through the hood. Not a problem. Its fairly easy to ignore all the idiot Cubs fans so the likes coming to see these geezers wont be bad.

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Miriam

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Jim, are you merely feeling bitter that it's not Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band playing at Wrigley Field instead of Elton John and Billy Joel? Welll, as a Springsteen fan and a Cubs fan, I am, for once, in total agreement with you. Given that Bruce performed for the first time at Fenway Park (Boston) in 2003 and the Cell on August 13, 2003, both the Red Sox and the White Sox were later rewarded with World Series championships in 2004 and 2005. The Cubs will not win the World Series until Bruce and the band have a chance to work their "magic" at the Friendly Confines and replace Clark and Addison with 10th Avenue and E Street for just one night. Will someone please forward this information to the Cubs new owners? Thanks. Paul Haider, Chicago

Dear Jim,
For once, I share your cynical and emibittered opinion regarding the "entertainment" in Wrigley Field, although it will still be more entertaining than seeing the Cubs choke, yet again, if they make the playoffs in October. So, are you also unhappy about the fact that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will not be performing live in concert in Wrigley instead of Billy Joel and Elton John? Well, I am in complete agreement with you as a Springsteen fan and as a Cubs fans. You see, it just so happens that after Bruce and his band performed for the first time in Fenway Park and the Cell in 2003, both the Red Sox and the White Sox were rewarded with World Series championships in 2004 and 2005. When will the Cubs and their fans get to have their "glory days"? It will be after Bruce has the chance to perform his "magic" in the Wrigley night. Paul Haider, Chicago

Dear Paul,

Thank you for feeling the need to write the same comments twice, at different times, with a different beginning sentence. I am now a better man for reading this.

Joe

When I heard about Elton John and Billy Joel playing Wrigley this summer, I chuckled and predicted to friends that the half full stadium will bring and end to the Wrigley Field concert series. A sold out concert with a second show announced!! What has happened to the Chicago music scene? Once vibrant and full of energy, people are now shelling out $200 a ticket to go see a Vegas act? Have either one of these two hacks been relevant in the last 30 years? Have either written anything other than Disney cheese in 25 years? I think in this case, it's safe to say the extra Live Nation service charges are punishment for lack of musical taste.

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