Monday, June 11, 2012

Scalped Summerfest Side-Stage Tickets Are Now a Thing

The best BMO Harris Pavilion seats will cost you

By Evan Rytlewski
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With the exception of ticketed Marcus Amphitheater events, Summerfest concerts have always been first-come, first-seated affairs, but the festival's newest stage departs from that general-admission model. The $13.5 million, state-of-the-art BMO Harris Pavilion has designated its first 26 rows, which seat about 2,500, a ticketed “Blue Circle” area. Tickets for these prime seats are available for a $3 convenience fee on Ticketmaster, where customers can reserve up to four of them.

That system has already invited exploitation. Blue Circle tickets for most of the stage's headliners sold out rapidly, with many of them popping up on ticket-selling sites just hours later. Want good seats to Ben Fold Five's June 28 concert? They're selling for between $8 and $62 on StubHub. Tickets for the Steve Miller Band's June 27 performance? They're running between $35 and $83. The best seats for Scorpions, Chicago and The Avett Brothers top out at $114, $135 and $150, respectively. Those prices are on top of Summerfest admission, which is separate. If that sounds like a lot, one Craigslist scalper selling Scorpions tickets for $70 a pop makes his sales pitch thusly: "YOU CAN GET TRAMPLED OR HAVE NICE SEATS!!!"

The BMO Harris Pavilion's reserved seats are no doubt convenient for those who manage to score them, but it's unfortunate seeing fans fleeced at a festival that has long prioritized access and affordability above all else.

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