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Taylor Swift fans excited, confused as Minneapolis tickets remain plentiful

August 31, 2018

They sat for hours clicking on her music videos to boost their place in virtual ticket lines last December, or posting tour-related selfies. Some of them paid an extra few hundred dollars for VIP access to seats.

In the end, though, getting tickets to Taylor Swifts two concerts at U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday and Saturday was as easy as getting one of her catchy songs stuck in your head. The surprising turnaround spotlights changing practices in the concert business and the enormity of the new Vikings stadium more than it suggests the pop stars popularity is waning.

Even though she trimmed her schedule from three very sold-out nights at Xcel Energy Center in 2015 to two dates at USBS, Swift nearly doubled her local seating capacity to more than 80,000 people this weekend. So it has gone in most cities on her current Reputation Tour, which has already surpassed sales records set by her prior tour, with more than $200 million in gross ticket sales and counting.

Another explanation for the tours mega-sized gross: Swift implemented new ticketing policies that amount to higher profits for artists and their promoters, including Ticketmasters Verified Fan anti-scalping program and a technique dubbed dynamic pricing akin to the way airlines adjust seat prices based on demand.

More and more the norm for big concerts, these ticket practices left some fans feeling confused and even exploited going into Swifts concerts, even as they remain excited for her return.

Overall, the whole ticket situation left me extremely disappointed, said Elise Welter, a 24-year-old marketing professional from Inver Grove Heights, who repeatedly watched videos and went through the tedious rigmarole of becoming a Verified Fan when Swift tickets first went on sale in December.

Even with her efforts, Welter only landed mid-range, lower-level seats around $190 apiece because, she said, the best seats offered to the verified fans in December were listed between $650 and $1,500, prices partly justified with added VIP memorabilia such as T-shirts or tour laminates.

As the concert neared, though, Welter saw the prices to those most desirable seats drop in half on Ticketmaster as the initial demand faded. So she sold her cheaper seats at a loss and paid $342 for floor seats, figuring she was still coming out ahead over fans who paid the $650-plus prices for the same section.

Im hoping the concert will make everything worth it! Welter concluded before Fridays opening night.

Andy Holmaas of Minneapolis did the same thing, ditching mediocre seats he bought in December for better seats that dropped sharply in price in recent weeks.

Major artists trying to stop scalpers is a good move in my book, but the added show changed the whole game for demand, Holmaas said, referring to the fact that Swift only announced Saturdays concert at first but then added the Friday date; purportedly due to overwhelming demand.

There was even a noticeable difference in pricing between the two Minneapolis concerts: Seats in the uppermost 300 levels were priced at $47 for Fridays concert in the days leading up to the shows, but the same sections were listed at $150 on Ticketmaster for Saturdays performance.

Licensed ticket broker Tim Bohmer of Minneapolis, aka Ticket Tim the kind of seat reseller Swift and Ticketmaster claim to be combating believes the new policies essentially hurt everybody involved in Swifts shows.

I think they scared away a lot of their prospective ticket buyers with those initial prices, said Bohmer, who took issue with U.S. Bank Stadium for letting Ticketmaster and the promoters do whatever they want with the new stadium at the expense of the public who paid to build the venue.

Bohmer said that as much as 20 percent of the total seats to some concerts usually the best seats are now discretely set aside by Ticketmaster and tour representatives to sell as platinum or premium seats, also including shows at Target Center and Target Field.

Representatives from U.S. Bank Stadium declined requests for comment for precisely the reason Bohmer said: Seat pricing is entirely left up to the artists handlers. Swifts publicist also declined to comment for this story.

In a Los Angeles Times article, Ticketmaster executive vice president and head of music David Marcus defended the policies as an effective way of keeping tickets off the resale market, including StubHub and similar sites.

The strategy right now is to make sure that we deal with the reality of limited supply which is the reality in every ticketing situation in the world, he said.

And regardless of whatever odysseys were involved in obtaining tickets, most of Swifts Twin Cities fans were happy with the final reality of seeing her in concert one more time especially after tickets to Swifts Xcel Center shows in 2015 were so scarce outside of the resale market.

Just knowing all along that Id be going to the show was worth it, said Alicia Harmon of St. Paul, who bought $190 tickets in December.

Part of a group of four friends who bought tickets in January, Sabrina Crews and Trisha Qualy said they actually got a kick out of the Verified Fan tactics and found the process exciting. Said Crews, Trisha even said to me, This feels kind of exclusive.

Chris Riemenschneider 612-673-4658

@ChrisRstrib

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