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.