What to make of yesterday’s Rod Stewart/Stevie Nicks two-for-one ticket offer…
Was it a desperation move as the Star‘s Tim Finn implied (while carefully avoiding criticizing a major advertiser)? A dumbass move by Sprint Center and/or promoters, as music biz blogger Bob Lefsetz harangued?
"You make tickets 2 for 1 in the beginning, not when you realize you’ve got a stiff and can’t sell tickets and the acts are embarrassed about playing an empty hall and are having their managers lean upon you," Lefsetz groused.
Au contraire, promoters have been "papering" arenas since the days of Old Blue Eyes (more on that later).
However sans any reporting by Finn or Lefsetz, the question of whether Stewart’s show was a stiff went unanswered.
Guess what? From all appearances, it’s not.
The floor seats are sold out, a Sprint Center box office rep said this morning. And remaining lower level seats are mostly sideview, in other words, poor. Even the cheap seats I tracked on Ticketmaster this morning were mediocre to bad. Unless you prefer watching your concerts on the giant screen TVs. The $49.50 and the $66 seats Ticketmaster offered around 9:30 a.m. were up high and/or far away.
Which brings us to Finn’s confused report on which tickets were available in Sprint’s two-for-one deal.
"There is a buy-one-get-one-free deal on $48 and $63 seats," Finn writes, implying cheapie seats were being dumped. They were not, according to Sprint.
"No, that’s how much the tickets were after a discount," a Sprint rep says. "We had a limited number of $126 and $96 seats available and people jumped on them and we sold out yesterday morning shortly after they went on sale."
In other words, Lefsetz failure to look into the two-for-one sale, rather than just cock and blast the show as a "stiff" playing to "an empty hall" was completely bogus.
No wonder he turned off the comments on his blog rather than risk being corrected or embarrassed.
Look, there’s a long tradition in the concert biz of quietly "papering" an arena when an act is facing embarrassingly low ticket sales. I remember Finn telling me years ago that Recycled Sounds on Main Street was passing out stacks of freebie tickets to an act I can’t recall.
It happens, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. It looks to be more a case of the venue and/or artist wanted to do some filling in among the higher-priced seats.
The Mack Daddy of arena papering in KC by my measure: Frank Sinatra.
When Sinatra sang at Kemper Arena in the mid 1980s I got a call from Mardi Mitchell at Capital Tickets asking if I’d like free tickets to the show. How many? I asked. How many do you want? she replied.
Several hundred is what I took – everything from primo floor and lower level seats to so-called Circle of Gold tickets which sold at a huge premium. Gave them to practically everybody I could think of. And I wasn’t alone. Mitchell knew lots of people and likely gave away thousands. And the concert still wasn’t that packed.
You know, shit happens…