Editorials

Garth fans: Is the Mid-State Fair doing enough to discourage scalping?

Garth Brooks performs at the 2017 CMA Music Festival at Nissan Stadium on June 8 in Nashville, Tenn.
Garth Brooks performs at the 2017 CMA Music Festival at Nissan Stadium on June 8 in Nashville, Tenn. Invision/AP

We applaud Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood for agreeing to put on a second show at the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. Even with the additional show, though, chances are there won’t be enough tickets to go around.

Consider: The first show sold out in less than 30 seconds — 30 seconds! — and we suspect there will be a huge demand for the second show on July 27. That will likely mean another round of frustration and disappointment for some local fans.

Of course, if fans are willing to pay enough, they can have their pick of tickets on the resale market through outlets like StubHub.com, or on eBay or Craig’s List.

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Tickets on such sites are going for a staggering $3,356 for prime seats to the Brooks/Yearwood show, to $108 for bleacher seats.

That’s just wrong. It’s one thing to buy a pair of tickets with the intention of using them—and then have something change. Plans sometimes fall through, so you sell your tickets.

It’s another thing to buy tickets for the express purpose of lining your own pockets, denying a bonafide fan an opportunity to buy a ticket for the relatively reasonable ticket price of $73.98 apiece, plus a $6 service charge. (Even that’s a financial stretch for many.)

If any entity is going to benefit from overpriced tickets, we would rather it be the fair, which could put the money to good use on improvements to the grounds and buildings.

Mid-State Fair assures us that it’s taken steps to discourage scalping.

Ticketmaster, which is selling the Brooks tickets, has “world-class anti-bot technology,” fair spokesman Tom Keffury said. (Bots are computer programs that allow vendors to scoop up tickets for the resale market.) Also, purchasers are limited to six tickets each though most concert-goers are buying fewer — on average, each customer purchased 2.3 tickets for Brooks’ first show.

And yet, tickets were showing up on resale sites within minutes of the first sale.

Expect a repeat. In fact, tickets to the second show — which don’t go on sale until noon Thursday — began appearing online days ago.

StubHub for example, listed two tickets on the front floor, section 604, for $1,599 each on Wednesday. A StubHub agent told us their tickets come from verified sellers who list their tickets with the outlet.

Most ticket brokers we checked on Wednesday weren’t guaranteeing exact seats—only the “zone” where the seats are located. And if they can’t deliver the tickets, buyers will be issued a refund.

While there was some uncertainty, ticket vendors seemed to have a fairly good idea of how many tickets they will have available. One site, ticketliquadator, advertised Wednesday morning that it had 192 tickets left for Brooks’ 10:30 p.m. concert. Again, those tickets officially don’t go on sale until noon Thursday.

Scalping stinks. More could and should be done to give local fans the opportunity to buy tickets.

We commend the Mid-State Fair for attracting top notch artists like Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, but we have a couple suggestions for the Mid-State Fair Board to consider the next time it hosts a high-demand show:

▪  Require concert-goers to gain admission with the credit card used to purchase the tickets, rather than a paper ticket. That’s already being done at some concerts and sporting events.

▪  Allow a maximum of four — rather than six — tickets per customer.

That may disappoint some concertgoers, but it’s the right thing to do.

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