By Keith Sharp

Gord Downie - The Tragically Hip
Gord Downie – The Tragically Hip

Shocked by the news that The Tragically Hip’s lead vocalist, Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, North Bay Ontario resident, and card-carrying Hip fan club member, Mandi Lusic-Sturgeon was determined to secure tickets for at least one date of the Hip’s (now) 15 finale concert tour dates and see her beloved band one more time

She received a memo from the band’s web site saying there would be a special pre-sale for TTP club members, set to take place on Tuesday May 30th at 10 a.m for all tour venues, she was given a special code, “Machine”, told that ticket prices would be between $116 and $166 Cdn, that she would be allowed to order a maximum of four tickets, and to avoid any scalping, she would need to match the credit card number she was ordering with corresponding invoice number when she received her order. So far so good!

“I was hoping to order tickets for the band’s Kingston concert, August 20th, knowing this would be their last performance and I quickly realized good luck on that idea,”explained Lusic-Sturgeon. But then when I tried to order from the other Ontario venues, I got shut down as well. So then, I thought, well Winnipeg’s tickets go on sale one hour later, tried that, no go then I waited another hour for Calgary and Edmonton but got nowhere there either. I am prepared to travel anywhere to see them but I just can’t get a reasonably priced ticket.”

Lusic-Sturgeon is one of a group of eight Hip fans who are friends and she reports that only one person out of the eight got tickets “and even she only got two tickets for Toronto when she initially requested four.”


“I am totally disappointed, this was supposed to be a pre-sale for Hip fans but we are hearing about Stub Hub posting tickets at vastly inflated prices on their site immediately after Ticketmaster said they had sold out,” she complained. “How is it possible that they obtained so many tickets? We were told there was a maximum order of four tickets and we had to match our credit card number with the ticket invoice. It should have been impossible for scalpers to get those tickets.”

Lusic-Sturgeon’s complaints were echoed by literally thousands of other frustrated Hip fans, who now feel the only way to see their beloved band’s final dates is to literally mortgage their house or empty their bank accounts to purchase from scalpers like Stub Hub and their ilk. A fan club member claims 85% of the Hip fans he knows were denied access to regularly-priced tickets and there are numerous reports of fans literally reduced to tears as they tried in vain to order, what was supposed to be a special pre-sale for their benefit.

Surely this is not what The Tragically Hip had in mind when they announced plans for their final tour in conjunction with the release of their latest studio release,” Man Machine Poem “. Comments that they were going out one last time to thank their loyal and supportive fans with whom they had created a special bond that is uniquely Canadian. Only for those fans to be told that floor seats are now selling for $5,000 each for their Kingston finale somehow makes the entire tour structure seem farcical

A quick check of Stub Hub’s web site shows literally hundreds of tickets available at triple or quadruple the face value with most prime tickets costing over $1,000 each. And keep in mind, these are in U.S dollars so add another 24% on top of the charge. And it’s not just Stub Hub. Go  to The Hip’s own website and you will other ads for outfits like Tickets Now, Vivid Seats, Ticket-Centre and Tour Tickets W.Com all peddling vastly inflated ducats.

So who is responsible for this fiasco? The tour is promoted by Live Nation and ticket sales are being handled by Ticketmaster, neither company responded to questions by the CBC and the band’s management, Eggplant Productions deferred any questions back to Ticketmaster.
The prime villain seems to be Stub Hub, a San Francisco-based company, owned by E-Bay. They seemingly placed literally hundreds of tickets on sale at their site, reportedly even before Pre-sale tickets to fan club members went on sale. But how is this possible when the Wikipedia site for Stub Hub describes the company as a “resale service” for fans wishing to sell and buy select tickets.
Stub Hub representative, Shannon Kelly stated in an email “that with the type of demand, it’s not unusual to see a high asking price point for tickets right away as it is associated with traditional supply and demand marketplace. The asking price you see is just that, an asking price and we often see these prices coming down as we get further from on-sale dates and closer to the event”.
So according to Ms Kelly, all the tickets Stub Hub instantly put on sale, minutes after Ticketmaster posted their “Sold Out Signs” were actually tickets, purchased by Tragically Hip fans who immediately sold them to a San Francisco company for potential exorbitant profits…I don’t think so!
13313853_10154309198944665_29576814_o (1)This was a pre-sale for devoted fans who would give an arm and a leg to attend these concerts. The majority of them would not, under any circumstance, sell their tickets. But Stub Hub and their competition magically obtained literally hundreds of these tickets, even though there was supposed to be a four-ticket maximum which had to be qualified by the purchaser by matching credit card info with the invoice. This clearly did not happen.
And the sad reality is that the band’s 2012 release “Now For Plan A” didn’t do particularly well and if it wasn’t for Downie’s terrible prognosis, the band would not be selling out multiple concert dates and commanding scalper prices of over $1,000 for floor tickets.
So who loses in the end. Obviously the hard core fans, people who followed the band when the Hip were cutting their teeth at the Isabella Hotel and The Horseshoe Tavern, who bought all their records and merchandise and who adopted them as being uniquely Canadian. Now they are left to raise ridiculous amounts of money which many don’t have, to catch their beloved band in concert one more time.
The Tragically Hip will lose out too. A donation from each ticket sold, is set to be presented to The Sunnybrook Foundation for cancer research. It’s one thing to get a donation from a $116 ticket but what happens when the same ticket is selling for $500 or $600. Are the scalpers going to pay an appropriate rate. I somehow doubt it?
And oh yes, there’s a general sale of Tragically Hip tickets set for Friday. Good luck on that one!


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