Long Island Medium sells out show in Great Falls before tickets even went on sale
Imagine going to a store and asking to buy something you’ve been waiting months to get your hands on but couldn’t get it for whatever reason, and when you did come back when you were told you could get it, it was already sold out.
That might seem like something that would never happen in reality because supply and demand always seem to find an equilibrium over time.
But, in the weird world of event promotions, tickets are starting to sell out more and more before they’re even offered to the general public.
In fact, Great Falls just experienced that exact phenomena this week.
On Friday, April 10 at 10 a.m., tickets to see Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, at the Mansfield Center for the Performing Arts theater in Great Falls, were set to go on sale to the general public.
However, you may notice that on the Mansfield Center website, http://ticketing.greatfallsmt.net, it lists that the tickets for the June 12 show have already sold out.
Keri Langille, supervisor of the Mansfield Center Box Office, said today that the tickets were sold out through Theresa Caputo’s fan club pre-sale site, www.theresafanclub.com, in a matter of minutes.
“We sold out our tickets at our prices and they sold out to her fans on her fan club page with passwords. We’re excited to have this sold-out show in our venue,” she said.
Langille also said it’s a rare thing to sell out tickets for an event so quickly in Great Falls, saying the last time that happened at the Mansfield Center was likely for the Bill Cosby stand-up performance two years ago.
The tickets on the Mansfield Center website were priced between $39.75 and $89.75 per person.
Now, the popularity of the Long Island Medium television program on TLC cannot be overstated, and indeed she likely has a healthy number of fans willing to travel hundreds of miles to see her do her thing.
It also appears, however, that many of these Great Falls tickets were scooped up by secondary sellers, who in turn resell them at sometimes double or triple the face value.
And here’s where things get interesting.
The Mansfield Theater in Great Falls has a capacity of 1,782 – 919 on the main floor, 282 in the lower balcony and 581 in the upper balcony.
A legitimate question you have to ask yourself is one, how many of those presale tickets were bought by people who are fans of Ms. Caputo?
Maybe indeed all of them were, however, if you dig a little deeper you start to find that’s not the case.
At least three websites, here, here and here, have quite a few tickets available to see Ms. Caputo in Great Falls on June 12, for with main-floor tickets going between $390 and $650 each, more than 3 times more than the highest face-value price of $89.75 on the Mansfield Center website and Theresa Caputo’s fan site.
So, the question becomes, how many of these people paid the yearly $19.99 to gain access to these presale tickets, and how many of these tickets were purchased by secondary ticket brokers such as Big Stub, Vivid Seats or Tickets Mate, among others?
Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer.
These ticket brokers almost never disclose how many tickets they have in stock, and sometimes worse yet, when you purchase a ticket on one site, it simply redirects you to another that actually possesses the ticket, or it might all be an elaborate scam where you pay and never receive your ticket.
The reality is for the Great Falls show, we might not know how many tickets fans purchased and how many scalpers bought until well after the show is over.
But, the most troubling thing of all is that what this all means is that admission to see Theresa Caputo was removed from the hands of regular Great Fallsians. People not members of Caputo’s fan club who cannot afford the extremely marked-up tickets available on the secondary market.
And there’s more bad news – unless Montana changes it’s laws, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do about it.
There’s also the growing risk that tickets you purchase on the secondary market are nothing but elaborate scams.
In 2013, the Missoulian did a story about ticket scams revolving around the Zac Brown Band show at the Adams Center.
“When tickets are hard to come by, online prices at secondary sites skyrocket and counterfeit, stolen or canceled tickets pop up,” the article stated. “Online sellers, most of which are located outside of Missoula, anticipate the rush and start listing tickets early. It’s also often local fans who are scammed.”
The advice given to people purchasing tickets for shows on the University of Montana campus is to only buy from reputable sources, in their case tickets from www.umt.edu/griztix.
The reason for this advice is that Montana is one of 18 states with no regulations regarding ticket scalping. Other states have combated this through city ordinances within no-regulation states such as Oklahoma City and Las Vegas, prohibiting secondary selling. Oregon, Tennessee and Vermont, meanwhile, only prohibit the use of software to purchase tickets for the after-market.
Caputo herself has offered similar advice to people looking to avoid being scammed when buying tickets to see her shows. On the second page of her online blog, she writes,
“Hi everyone! It has come to my attention that tickets are being bought and sold through third party sites that are charging ridiculous prices and making false promises. We do everything in our power to try to prevent this, but this is something that I have no control over. It’s extremely upsetting to me that these sites are taking advantage of my fans. The only way to avoid this is to go the EVENT PAGE. The page has all the most current and up to date information with all links to all venues. You will see that tickets to the Live Experience start at $39.00 with the most expensive ticket being in the $100.00 range depending on the venue. I try to keep prices affordable so that tickets can be accessible to all. SO PLEASE ONLY PURCHASE TICKETS THROUGH MY WEBSITE OR THROUGH THE VENUES BOX OFFICE.”
The problem with the Great Falls show, however, is that most regular folks never had the chance to purchase tickets without first paying $19.99 to join Caputo’s fan club.
Meaning that if you wanted to see her and had the wherewithal to foresee the event selling out via presale, something that almost never happens here, the least amount of money you would have had to spend would have been $59.74 and the most a person would have had to pay would have been $109.74, so just a bit out of the $100 range she mentioned in her blog post.
However, again, that’s assuming you knew that the presale would sell out the whole venue to begin with.
If you’re from Great Falls, you know that we are, by and large, a last-minute town when it comes to tickets.
If you thought you’d have time today to get your tickets once they opened the sales to the general public, as was advertised, you’d be among the hundreds of people who wouldn’t have even conceived of the idea that tickets would sell out via the presale.
Further complicating the issue is the ease in which presale passwords are made available to secondary ticket sellers.
Two sources who wished to remain anonymous reported to Big Sky State Buzz that they were able to access the presale code and email it to as many people as they chose, and it would grant them access to the presale tickets as well, without having to be a part of the Theresa Caputo fan club.
There’s at least one website that offers people who join the site the presale password.
And if you notice, the Mansfield Center show is at the very top of the list, as of Wednesday afternoon.
This also brings up the possibility that Ms. Caputo could be performing to a somewhat empty venue depending on how many secondary market tickets remain unsold at the time of the show due to their astronomical prices.
Keern Haslem, a box office manager for the Mansfield Center, said that many times for touring shows they will be asked to count the number of ticket stubs redeemed at the door and compare them to the number of tickets sold, which again was technically all 1,782.
He also said if there are empty seats, people with seats in the very back of the venue will be asked to move up closer to the stage, thereby negating the huge difference in price between an upper balcony seat and a front-row seat.
Which means someone who purchased a ticket for $60 could be sitting next to someone who paid $650 for the exact same view.
We won’t know what the actual turnout of the show will be until that evening, but one interesting aspect to all of this is that because there’s no restrictions on secondary ticket sales in Montana, a place such as Stub Hub or one of the other offshoots, could buy up all of the tickets and resell them at double the face value, without any repercussions.
While that might seem unfair, to the National Association of Ticket Brokers, that’s just one byproduct of dealing with a free market when it comes to buying and selling tickets.
In it’s “Ticket Owner Bill of Rights” it states, “”As a ticket owner, you have the right to…”
1. Buy or sell tickets in a free and open market;
2. Buy tickets at prices that represent their real value, whether above or below original face value;
3. Know the price of all tickets based on location, prior to initial sale date;
4. Guaranteed tickets, unless otherwise clearly specified;
5. Use the tickets as you wish without hindrance from the original ticket issuer;
6. Seats without obstructed or limited view, or be informed beforehand;
7. Have tickets delivered prior to the event by the ticket broker, and;
8. A full refund based on the issuer’s policy, if the ticket is refused or invalidated, or if the event is canceled.”
While that might be all good in theory, in 2007 the Washington Post did an investigative story on some of the corruption surrounding the ticket business, which has exploded in recent years. StubHub alone has dwarfed into a powerhouse ticket broker, with an estimated revenue of $325 million, according to Forbes.
The Post article found that for one show to see Miley Cyrus in Kansas City, who at that time was headlining the “Hannah Montana” tour,
“Ticketmaster revealed that only 4,200 tickets were sold to the general public for a “Hannah Montana” show in Kansas City, Mo., at Sprint Center — an arena that holds 11,500 for concerts,” it continues. “The balance went behind a series of “velvet ropes” that the public never had a chance to get past. Another 4,200 tickets were sold to dues-paying fan-club members (including some ticket brokers). The arena’s suite-holders got first dibs on an additional 1,200 seats. And the event’s promoter, AEG Live, claimed 1,800 tickets, which were given to VIPs and distributed as promotional giveaways. Prices soared for the limited number of tickets available to the public.”
For this Great Falls show, our attempts to reach out to Theresa Caputo’s people have gone unanswered, however we will update our story if or when we hear back from them.
So, finally, if you’re looking for someone to blame for not being able to get a ticket to see the Long Island Medium when she comes to Great Falls, like most things, it’s more complicated than it seems.
Perhaps Caputo needs to figure out a better way to ensure that presale codes aren’t so easily distributed across the internet, perhaps the Mansfield Center needs to set a policy regarding how many presale tickets any one performer can sell on their own website, and perhaps we in Montana need to re-examine our secondary ticket market policies to help combat this from happening in the future.