Online scalpers gouge Elton John tickets

Friday, August 31, 2007 | 6:26 p.m. CDT; updated 3:17 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — Elton John fans started lining up several hours before tickets went on sale Monday for his upcoming performance at Mizzou Arena. So far, buyers have been less enthusiastic about paying scalpers’ inflated ticket prices.

On Friday, there were 70 listings on eBay for the Oct. 5 show in Columbia, but few seats have been bid on.

This is likely because of the high asking price: Floor seats, which were sold for $87, are listed on eBay for two to three times their face value.

Other sites, such as Stubhub and Craigslist, also have tickets with similar asking prices.

Tim Hickman, MU associate athletic director for operations, said the university monitors online ticket auction sites. He observed nearly 100 listings for tickets the day after seats went on sale.

Floor seats sold out quickly,but $67 tickets in the arena’s lower level are available, as well as $47 upper-level seats behind the stage.

Ticket scalping for entertainment events is legal in Missouri but illegal for sporting events. However, the restriction on sporting events is expected be lifted.

Both houses of the Missouri Legislature passed a bill repealing all scalping restrictions Thursday, and it is expected to be signed by Gov. Matt Blunt, said Rep. John Burnett, D-Kansas City.

Burnett voted against the bill and drew a distinction between scalping tickets for entertainment shows and sporting events.

“Concerts are a free market – if you want to pay $1,200 for an Elton John ticket, OK,” he said. “But teams that are part of the community and playing in taxpayer-funded stadiums should not be price gouging citizens.”

Hickman said scalping is an issue for every arena, but it is not a significant problem at the university.

“MU has designated areas for people to sell tickets at campus sporting events,” Hickman said. “But we don’t want it happening in front of our gates.”

Elton John is scheduled to play two shows in Montana before coming to Columbia. His local stop is part of John’s goal to play smaller markets, said Amy Carroll, director of special events and booking for the MU Athletic Department.

After his Columbia performance, John is scheduled to play a sold-out show in Kansas City on Oct. 13 before heading to Las Vegas, where he will play 13 consecutive shows.

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