SBD/Jan. 17, 2011/Facilities

Secondary Ticket Market Has Soared Even As Economy Has Faltered

Number of tickets sold on sites like StubHub has steadily risen
In recent years, "attendance has fallen in nearly every league, several franchises declared bankruptcy and a few more were sold for less than expected," but the "online ticket market has bucked the trend," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. Forrester Research VP & Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru estimated that the secondary ticket market is worth $3B a year, and the number of tickets bought on sites such as StubHub "has risen steadily even as the economy faltered." Yet at the same time, "prices have fallen, making it possible for cost-conscious consumers to continue attending games." After "initially resisting resellers, many teams have allied with them in the last few years to make it easier for their season-ticket holders ... to resell their tickets." That has led to a "flood of tickets listed by individuals willing to sell at a loss rather than by for-profit brokers." As a result, the average price of tickets sold on StubHub fell 2.5% last year even as sales grew 26%. StubHub Head of Partnerships & Business Development Danielle Maged said that "just a few years ago, 60 percent of the tickets listed on StubHub were by brokers and 40 percent by individuals, but that the ratio had reversed." And with "empty seats in arenas and stadiums for all but the most popular games and teams," Maged and other ticket industry execs said that "more fans will shop first for bargains online before they pay face value for tickets at the box office." Teams also are "aware that falling prices for high-definition televisions and digital video recorders, and programming options like RedZone TV and NFL Sunday Ticket, have given fans more reasons to stay home." That is a "big reason teams across the country have started to raise or lower the prices of some tickets based on demand, much like the way airlines do with their seats." But dynamically priced sports tickets are a "work in progress." Teams are "trying to determine how many seats in their stadiums and arenas to set aside." Belson: "Too many and you risk creating confusion, too few and fans hardly notice" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17).

HOT TICKET: StubHub Corporate Communications Manager Joellen Ferrer said Sunday's Packers-Bears NFC Championship Game "would absolutely have the makeup to become our top-selling conference championship in company history." Ferrer added that she "would expect the price of tickets to soar." Ferrer: "I would expect the 'get-in' price to get to about $500, but we will see fluctuations all week as the market settles" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/17). Milwaukee-based Ticket King VP Fred Benz said that the "chance to see a classic Green Bay-Chicago matchup in such a high-stakes game was driving early market demand" (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 1/17). In Illinois, Paul Biasco notes a "limited number of tickets for the NFC championship game will go on sale Tuesday afternoon," and ticket brokers "expect the Bears' matchup with Green Bay to bring in the big bucks." StubHub "expects ticket prices to average around $675 a seat" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 1/17).
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