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Elton John World News: A Mob at The Bob

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Delaware Gig Sold Out Within Half an Hour

Sunday 17 February 2008 @ 19:27 - GMT

It took less than 30 minutes for Elton's first-ever Delaware concert to sell out, leaving about 200 bundled-up fans who waited at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center's box office locked out of the show.


The 4,500 tickets, which ranged from $85 to $125 each, were snapped up almost immediately, by fans and, undoubtedly, scalpers, according to the News Journal.


Disappointed would-be attendees included Joan Cochran, 70, who arrived at the Bob at 10:30 a.m. and waited in line. Meanwhile, her daughter, who was in Rehoboth Beach, tried to buy tickets online through Ticketmaster.com.


Both failed to get tickets.


''I'm a little hot under the collar," said Cochran, of Newark. ''How could they all be sold at the stroke of 12, exactly when they were supposed to go on sale?''


Here's how:


Earlier in the morning, an unknown number of floor tickets were sold through Eltonjohn.com.


And then at noon, fans were able to buy tickets not only at the box office, but also through Ticketmaster.com and Ticketmaster's pay-by-phone service.


If tickets for an in-demand concert, which is being presented by Live Nation, are available via the Internet and the phone, the tickets are almost sure to sell out immediately.


''It's 2008, do you know what I mean?'' said Domenick Sicilia, director of the Bob Carpenter Center. ''The ticket  business has changed.''


Even so, Sicilia said, it was unfortunate that everyone in line was not sucessful, adding that it was a hot ticket because of the intimate nature of the show compared with the larger venues Elton normally plays. The songster last played the region in September 2005 at Philadelphia's 20,000-seat Wachovia Center.


Sicilia admitted he did not know exactly how many tickets were sold at the Bob's box office.


"Delaware is not used to the race it takes to get tickets to big shows like that," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, the trade journal of the concert industry.


"You may be first in line at a ticket outlet, but there are many first-in-lines on the Internet. It's not like one big line where you're assured of getting tickets if you're near the front."


But not all music lovers were left out in the cold.


Mark Slacum, 53, was one of about 200 fans who waited in line at the Newark box office to get a chance to buy tickets to see Elton on March 10.


Slacum arrived at the Bob at midnight and was the fourth person in line.


He walked away 12 hours later with exactly what he wanted: two $85 tickets for himself and his wife, Linda.


But Mark was one of only a handful in line who actually got tickets.


To make matters worse, there were nearly 100 tickets for the engagement on sale on eBay within an hour of the sellout, with some selling for up to $375 each, proving that the event was on the scalpers' radar screen as an in-demand show.


''You have a well organized group of secondary ticket scalpers and that makes it harder to get a ticket,'' Bongiovanni commented. ''You are competing with people whose jobs it is to go out and get those tickets so they can turn around and resell them. The average fan is competing against professionals and that makes it that much harder.''


Even though the vast majority of tickets were immediately sold through Ticketmaster, Sicilia believes it was the right move to sell tickets at the box office as well, even through many people were left without tickets.


"That would mean everyone would have to pay the convenience charge and that's not fair, I don't think, personally," he said. "It gives fans a choice and puts the decision back on the purchaser."


But for longtime fans like Joan Cochran who never thought they would ever get the chance to see him in concert, it all adds up to one big disappointment.


''It's like false advertising, you couldn't buy a ticket,'' she said.

 ''People were furious. Why do they bother to tell you to wait at the Bob Carpenter Center for tickets when they're not going to have them? You feel like you've been made a fool of.''