Following what was recently dubbed an Elton John "ticket scandal" in Sudbury, Ontario, local officials have returned 71 of 120 tickets that were purchased before the onsale for an upcoming show at the Sudbury Arena.
The tickets were put into a public drawing and offered up to winners at face value, according to the local Sudbury Star.
Mayor John Rodriguez told the paper councilors handed over the tickets "because it seemed that the public focus" was "not on the concert, but on the politics of the tickets."
Tickets for the show at the 5,000-capacity venue reportedly sold out in less than an hour, leaving many fans empty handed. When the Star reported that members of the city council were given the first crack at the tickets, the wheels of scandal were set in motion.
Members of the paper’s staff were reportedly contacted by the city’s chief administrative officer, Mark Mieto, who set up an off-the-record meeting warning that the city was in danger and continued coverage of the ticket issue could threaten the concert.
However, Mieto followed up the meeting with an e-mail to all city councilors, which the Star apparently got a copy of.
"When Mieto requested the meeting, we thought it would be good for the city, good for council and good for us to communicate," Star managing editor Brian MacLeod said. "We met in good faith. Judging by this e-mail, it appears that good faith was misplaced."
In his e-mail to councilors, Mieto wrote that the paper’s staff claimed to know how many tickets had been purchased by them, as well as how many tickets were sold on the Internet and by Live Nation, the paper reported. He also claimed to have been told the Star would not contact Live Nation.
"We held off contacting the promoter because if there was anything to Mieto’s contention about the concert being in danger, we didn’t want to jeopardize it," MacLeod said.
But when the paper sent an e-mail to other council members asking if "they shared the concern that the ticket controversy is jeopardizing the Elton John concert and future events," it received little response and went ahead in contacting Live Nation, which quickly denied the show was in danger.
The paper said that Mieto’s meeting, along with other comments made by city councilors, were two of three ways officials had pressured the publication to discontinue its coverage of the "ticket controversy."
"Mieto insisted this concert, and future concerts, were in jeopardy due to the Star’s coverage of the controversy," MacLeod said. "He implied that the Star got tickets by surreptitious means, which is untrue; and councilors began refusing to speak to our city hall reporter. That they discussed in a confidential e-mail that possibility of withdrawing advertising from the Star would seem to indicate some of them wanted to up the pressure."
Nevertheless, the show is still set to go on at the arena March 4th.