Mahaffey Theater Cuts Ticket Fees

Everyone complains about ticket fees but the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg, Fla., is actually doing something about them.

The Mahaffey instituted a new “no ticketing surcharge” policy earlier this month, and though the venue made hundreds of thousands of dollars on service charges last year, management is betting the move will help sell enough tickets to make up for it.

“It’s really about doing what’s right for the community,” GM Joe Santiago told Pollstar. “Whatever the advertised ticket price is … we want people who buy through the Mahaffey website, through our box office and through our phones to pay that price.”

Big 3 Entertainment President/CEO Bill Edwards announces “No Additional Charges Ever.”

The idea was initially spawned by Bill Edwards, whose Big 3 Entertainment operates the facility. Edwards told the local Tampa Bay Times he was amazed to learn a pair of tickets to a recent Elvis tribute show that sold for less than $40 would ultimately cost nearly $60 with added fees.

“I started asking around and found out we’ve had a lot of people cancel in the act of buying tickets because they found out how much the additional fees were going to be,” Edwards said. He noted the new policy isn’t a “smoke screen” where the base ticket price will increase just as the fees are dropped.

“I’m not changing my ticket model,” he said. “It’s the same as a year ago.”

The Mahaffey, which took most of its ticketing in-house last year when its foundation purchased a license to use Tessitura software, still allocates a small percentage of tickets to Ticketmaster for some shows.

In those instances, patrons who purchase through TM will pay corresponding ticket fees, Santiago said, but those who purchase through the venue’s phone, website and boxoffice will pay no fees.

Though the new policy hasn’t been active long enough to gauge its effect on sales, the venue has apparently gotten a “lot of positive feedback” through social media and Facebook.

“People appreciate it and let us know that,” Santiago said.