NJ Ticket Hold-Up

Fans, legislators, state attorneys general and even Bruce Springsteen himself pointed the finger at Ticketmaster when consumers had problems scoring tickets to two shows in the Boss’ home state of New Jersey during a Feb. 2 onsale.

However, a recent public records request by the Newark Star-Ledger has uncovered that TM may have taken the fall for something with which the company had little involvement – holdbacks.

According to ticket sales data obtained by the Star-Ledger, 2,262 seats – many located in the best sections of the house – were held back from public sale for the Boss’ May 21 show at the Izod Center, representing roughly 12 percent of the total tickets in the building.

Of those seats, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority that oversees the Izod Center reportedly held onto 812 tickets. The remaining 1,450 went to Springsteen and co.

Springsteen manager Jon Landau, who became an outspoken opponent of TM and its subsidiary TicketsNow following the February mishap, offered an explanation to the Wall Street Journal.

“It is true that we hold a significant number of tickets for our friends and family, as does virtually every artist during concert appearances,” Landau said.

“The location of those tickets are blended into the seating chart, so that there’s always a mix between the ability of fans to buy tickets and tickets being held for the stated purpose.

“No tickets held by the artist in our case are ever authorized for resale. And to the best of our knowledge, this practice is common to all artists who have to deal with close friends, business associates who work year-round for them, their parents, their wives, their nieces, and so forth.”

Still, NJ Assemblyman Peter Biondi cried foul, telling the Star-Ledger the 12 percent holdback is a violation of a state law that regulates ticket sales.

“They are allowed to hold back 5 percent for family, fan clubs, friends, sponsors, for the band, for the producer, for everyone involved,” Biondi said. “It is a state statute. It is enforceable and it should be enforced. It’s there for a reason. The intent was to have enough tickets available to have fair and open pricing.”

NJSEA spokesman John Samerjan had a different view on the statute, explaining holds for artists, sponsors and media aren’t counted toward that 5 percent limit, which applies only to the tickets held by the Sports Authority itself.

“The holds are a necessary part of doing business,” Samerjan said. “We work with the attorney general and consumer affairs. They were aware of exactly where every ticket is going.”

But maybe the path those tickets took wasn’t so crystal clear.

A scalper who purchased a pair of prime seats to the show for $1,200 reportedly scored tickets from the spouse of an NJSEA employee, telling the Wall Street Journal the employee had been offered the option to purchase six seats at a face value of $95 each.