Tickets, Costco Style

There’s a new ticket broker in town: Costco. So far though, Ticketmaster doesn’t have to look over its shoulder.

The discount company has set aside a small section of its Web site to sell tickets to a few events – namely a smattering of Seattle SuperSonics and Portland Trail Blazers basketball games and performances of “Sweeney Todd” at New York City’s Eugene O’Neill Theatre.

The ducats are going cheap, too. A Sonics versus Dallas Mavericks ticket that would normally cost $78 is being sold at for $44 plus a $4 service fee, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

“Normally, we do not do a discount of that magnitude to the general public,” Sonics sales and marketing VP Brian Byrnes told the paper. “This is a trial for the month of January, and the discount is exclusive to Costco.”

Byrnes is looking for a 5 percent to 8 percent increase in attendance, considering the Sonics draw about 16,000 people to an average game at the 17,000-capacity KeyArena. If tickets sell well, the NBA team will have a “much bigger conversation” with the store chain.

Costco CEO Jim Sinegal worked out the Sonics deal with longtime friend and business partner Howard Schultz, who owns the team, according to the Post-Intelligencer. Ticketmaster sells Sonics tickets and Sinegal was skeptical about expanding into a market that holds so many exclusive agreements between venues and ticketing companies.

“Networking and relationships only go so far in business. If it’s not profitable, it will fall apart,” he told the paper.

But stranger things have happened.

“If you had asked me a few years ago if we would be selling movie tickets in our warehouses, I would have said you are nuts,” Sinegal said. “And now we are.”

He added that if the ticket experiment is successful, Costco could expand into the music market.