In an effort to curb fraud and gouging, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts has joined seven other performing venues across the country in a national campaign that targets the secondary ticket market. The crusade includes a short animated video in English and Spanish explaining the benefits of buying tickets from the official ticket seller.
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“The goal of the awareness campaign is to help the patron have the best experience possible,” said Andrew Goldberg, vice president of marketing for the Arsht Center. “And that experience starts at the point of the ticket purchase.”
The price of tickets for performances at the Arsht Center, a not-for-profit venue, is set to the dollar amount that is optimal for both patron and the center’s viability, Goldberg added. But in the secondary ticket market, ticket prices, even for shows that aren’t sold out, can sell for several times the face value.
“Once a ticket gets sold for two or three times the value, that proposition [of a satisfactory experience for the patron] simply changes,” Goldberg said.
Fake tickets, tickets with incorrect seating and even tickets to a venue in a different city are also a problem. Last season, a local family spent $1,000 to buy four tickets to the Tony Award-winning Broadway version of Cinderella on the secondary market. But not only did the family pay several times more than face value, the tickets weren’t even for the Arsht Center performance.
“We were able to find them seats, but we aren’t always able to do that,” Goldberg said.
It’s not just performing arts centers affected by problematic ticket resellers. The secondary ticket market is an issue for sporting events as well. In 2014, two Miami-Dade residents were charged with teaming up to steal $407,000 from IMG Worldwide, the sports management company that runs the Sony Open on Key Biscayne. The federal indictment said the duo had sold fake tickets to corporate sponsors.
The secondary ticket market has been around since the advent of tickets. Technology has made buying tickets on the resale market much easier — but it also has increased the potential for fraud. That’s why the eight performing centers, including those in Fort Myers, Pittsburgh, Providence and Louisville, decided to band together for the campaign.
The Arsht, Goldberg said, also has invested in software to help identify suspect web addresses that may be buying up large swaths of tickets, but it has met only with “moderate success.” The ticket resale market is now estimated to be worth between $5 billion to $8 billion a year, with some resellers posting ticket prices several hundred times higher than the face value of a ticket even before they go on sale to the public.
Public officials have taken note. Last year Florida passed a law that limits resales to $1 above the original admission price. New York’s attorney general launched an investigation when tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 tour went on sale on StubHub for thousands of dollars before the sale was open to the general public
In Miami, Arsht Center executives estimate that consumers pay an additional $250,000 to $500,000 per year for center tickets on the secondary market. Faced with a sophisticated and well-financed secondary market, the Arsht and other performing centers hope to educate their patrons about the benefits of buying tickets from the official ticket seller. Some of these benefits include authentic tickets at face value, the guarantee of getting the best price for the best seating, up-to-date information on traffic and parking, and special offers on shows.
Goldberg expects the awareness campaign to expand beyond the current group of performing arts centers.
“This is open-ended,” he said. “It’s an evergreen issue and it affects everybody.”