Fan Groups Wage Ticket Battle

A number of promoters, ticketing companies, artists, teams and management firms have declared war on StubHub and other secondary sites with the formation of the Fans First Coalition, a group taking aim at scalpers and “unscrupulous business practices.”

Fans First, which counts Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Front Line Management, Bill Silva Presents, Red Light Management and Jam Productions among its members, calls for transparency and aims to stand up for fans on issues “related to improving access to reasonably priced tickets and enhanced protection against fraudulent business practices.”

“I don’t know when it became cool to rip people off,” Fans First Treasurer and Rose Presents head Randy Levy said during a press call. He noted that when ticket prices multiply, “it erodes the heart of our business. If you spend $500 or $600 getting ripped off to see one show, that’s probably five or six other shows that you won’t see.”

But there’s a bigger battle at the heart of this fight, and it’s one that will likely to play out in state legislatures around the country.
Fans First was formed after StubHub and others began lobbying heavily in several states in hopes of restricting venues from using paperless ticketing.

The FFC notes that many problems have surfaced with the advent of online ticketing, such as phony websites, deceptive resale marketplaces and speculative tickets. The group hopes to keep paperless tickets available to combat scalping and ticket fraud.

“If a building or an artist wants to use paperless to thwart the scalpers, then they should have that option,” Verizon Arena GM and Fans First President Michael Marion told Pollstar.

Another group – the StubHub and National Consumers League-backed Fan Freedom Project – has a different take.

Jon Potter, president of the Fan Freedom Project, told Pollstar that Fans First’s paperless agenda is hardly fan friendly and limits options for consumers.

“Our position is that restrictive paperless tickets that require a ticketing party to stand together outside the venue in Minneapolis waiting for that poor guy who worked late is not fan friendly,” he said. “That making it hard to transfer tickets or give away concert tickets as gifts is not fan friendly.”

Paperless ticketing legislation has been considered in states including Connecticut and New York this year.

The coalition also includes North Carolina’s Durham Performing Arts Center, Minneapolis’ Target Center, The Recording Academy, the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and more than 30 artists including Anthrax, R.E.M., Maroon 5 and Kenny G. North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena, which Marion manages, is also obviously a member.