Lawmaker wants first chance for tickets to be in-person

Published On: Feb 10 2014 07:08:00 PM HST

Call it a flashback to the 80s. Instead of purchasing tickets online, Sen. Donna Mercado Kim wants fans to wait in line for tickets to some of Hawaii's hottest shows.

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Kim introduced a resolution (SCR 37) urging ticket vendors and entertainment venues to require only in-person ticket sales for the first 48 hours. The resolution is a direct result of the frustration and disappointment felt by hundreds of Bruno Mars fans who waited outside the Neal Blaisdell Center box office earlier this month, only to be told tickets to all three shows had been sold out.

"If it sells in four or five days that's great," said Kim. "(But) sellout in three hours and the local venue doesn't even have an opportunity to be part of that program? To me something needs to be done."

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According to Ticketmaster statistics, only 6 percent of the 17,000 tickets sold for three Bruno Mars concerts in April were purchased at the box office. Many more tickets, 42 percent, were purchased by people out of state, most of them through the internet.

Kim's resolution calls on the Hawaii Community Development Authority, Aloha Stadium Authority, Department of Enterprise Services, Board of Regents, president of the University of Hawaii and chancellor of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Hawaii Tourism Authority to set purchasing terms.

That would likely result in fans who wanted first dibs on tickets to a popular show camping out for hours or even days to be the first in line.

Honolulu resident Angel Adams was among those who waited in line at the Blaisdell Feb. 3 for Mars tickets, but doubts she would ever camp out with fellow fans just to grab tickets. Still, she didn't object to Kim's proposal.

"Most of us don't have the time or resources to sit outside and camp out, but if you have time to do it, why not? Go for it," said Adams.

However, Gerald Saito, the city's director of Enterprise Services was less than enthusiastic about Kim's proposal in a statement to KITV4. Enterprise Services controls ticket sales at the Blaisdell box office.

“Tickets sales are agent and act driven," wrote Saito.  "The Department of Enterprise Services works with the promoters to implement ticket sale date, time, and pricing.”

Meanwhile, the university believes Kim's proposal could impact athletic events at the Manoa campus and elsewhere within the UH system.

"UH Manoa is only one entity in the UH System that offers ticketed-type events," said Elmer Ka'ai, director of advance at the Chancellor's Office. "At this point, UH Manoa will need some time to examine SCR 37 to understand its overall impact on the entire campus, not only the athletic venues." 

Kim however said it wasn't her intention to affect ticket sales for UH sporting events, and her resolution still needs to be debated

"It can be amended, it can be clarified so that we're not having unintended consequences," she said.

Even if passed, resolutions don't carry the weight of law. Concert promoter Tom Moffatt, who brought Mars to Hawaii, called Kim's resolution unworkable.

He said concert tickets have been sold over the phone and online for decades, and questioned the fairness of a 48-hour in-person ticket policy for neighbor island residents.

"What about the poor guy in Hilo," said Moffat. "Right now he can get tickets online. Under Kim's plan he couldn't do that."    

Kim says she may attach anti-scalping language to an actual bill as her resolution is debated. She said it was too late in the legislative process to introduce a new bill to regulate ticket sales.


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