Gary's monumental struggle to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on Tuesday, March 11, 2003, in Rochester, NY
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This tale starts at 10 am on Saturday, December 21, 2002, when TicketMaster began selling tickets to see the Boss in my own town of Rochester.  Sue and I saw the band in Buffalo in 1999, and it was a great show.  I didn't think I'd ever really go to the effort to see him again, but to see him in Rochester would be so cool!  After our McCartney experience, I felt I had the TicketMaster process down pat, and was looking forward to great seats.

At the appointed moment, I was ready to go.  The "unavailable" page was replaced with the seating menus, and I clicked away.  At first, the menus only offered "best available", but I charged ahead even though I didn't want the floor level, standing room tickets.  The browser hung for a while and then reported a proxy error.  I went back to the event page, and the menus had changed to offer "best available", "lower bowl", and "upper bowl".  Of course, I wanted the lower level tickets, but this was a fatal choice; I should have gone with "best available".  The second attempt (for lower level seats) reported that no such seats were available.  I went back for a third try for the best available seats, and I did indeed get access to four upper level seats, in the farthest corner from the stage.  I showed this to Susan, and we agreed that, for our second trip to see The Boss, we wanted better seats.  So I threw the lousy seats back into the pool and decided to try for better seats.

But by this time, there were no more seats at all.  The newspaper eventually reported that the show sold out in 50 minutes, but there were no 4-seat blocks left after 15 minutes.  Maybe single seats were available for a while longer.  However, tickets can become available over time due to credit card rejections, performer releases, and for other reasons.  So the trick is to keep trying, every day, until the bitter end.

After NOT getting tickets, I was more excited about the show than ever.  By chance, we went to a party this night (12/21), and others there failed to get tickets.  The next day, another friend reported having acquired good seats.  So the quest is on.

12/29/02: Over the next week, I was unable to acquire tickets through TicketMaster.  As I learned from the McCartney show, my opinion is that TicketMaster provides a good service.  Their fees are high, about $7 US per ticket, but this is partly used to combat fraud.  A ticket from TicketMaster is pretty much guaranteed to get you into an event, and to survive any ticketing disputes.  There is a lot of fraud out there, see the Ticket Scam Resource Center.

Tickets from brokers are now running from $190 to almost $500.  Some floor level tickets are available, but the seats that are available are generally pretty lousy.  Nothing close up on the lower level.  The various dealer inventories fluctuate each day, growing, falling, growing.  Enough tickets are available at this point, all with the same face value, that I have decided to wait.  If inventories fall significantly, or if it gets close to the event date, I'll decide what to do.  I don't want to pay three times the face value to see the concert!

1/6/03: I have been watching broker inventories and eBay auctions closely.  Broker inventories continue to grow.  I sent an email to one broker offering $90 per ticket for four tickets with an asking price of $475 per ticket.  The broker responded that his cost was "about three times" the amount I offered.  He might have accepted $250 per ticket, but I am not ready to pay this amount.  The quality of the brokers' seats remains mediocre, except for a couple of primo seats in section 105.

The eBay auctions for four tickets together are generally ending at around $100 per ticket, so I have been seriously watching these.  This is a pretty reasonable price, in my opinion.  The seller's cost is at least $85 including TicketMaster fees, more if fast shipments were used.  The problem is that, for one reason or another, the sellers seem a little untrustworthy.  One seller's email address bounced, and that's a serious infraction of eBay's rules.  A few sellers are out of state, and for a local concert and this much money, I prefer someone closer if there is a need for a refund.  A few auctions had minimum bids of over $200 per ticket, and a couple hadn't yet met the reserve at $100 per ticket.  I made one lowball bid for $5 for four tickets, but this was eventually outbid.

One eBay seller claimed to have acquired tickets from TicketMaster on Christmas afternoon, well after the sellout.

1/7/03: The TicketMaster web pages have been changing.  First, I could ask for tickets, but none were available.  Later, a message said that the event had been removed from the database.  Later, one could again request tickets, but none were available.  Later, a message explained that no tickets were available (without going through the request screens).  Later, the request screens appeared again.

And then it happened!  A little after noon, I got a lock on two tickets in section 113, near the back of the arena, but really not too bad at all.  This was good for me and my fiancee, but not my son who also wanted a seat.  So I tried a few more times, and two more tickets became available in section 117.  These seats are close enough together that we'll be able to use them, or maybe trade seats if we meet someone nice.

Even though I originally discarded lousy seats on the off-chance of getting better seats after the initial sellout, I'm not sure I really believed that this would actually happen.  There were probably only a few re-released seats, and I just happened to be online at the right time.