AEG's Mission Ballroom Launches Fair Ticketing to Create More Equitable Experience For Fans

Danny Clinch
The Lumineers

Lumineers, Trey Anastasio Band and co-headliners Ben Harper and Trombone Shorty will offer fans equal shot at tickets when they open Denver's Mission Ballroom in August.

If the Lumineers were to put their Aug. 7 concert opening the new Mission Ballroom -- AEG Presents Rocky Mountain's new state-of-the-art 3,950-capacity venue in the Denver -- on sale to the public, it would inevitably sell out in seconds.

After all, the band was able to sell out three nights at the 18,000-capacity Fiddler's Green amphitheater in nearby Englewood, Colorado in 2017. The Lumineers popularity in Colorado makes them the perfect under-play opener for the new venue, although the high-demand for the tickets coupled with the relatively low supply creates an opportunity for scalpers to make big money on markups from fans who want to see their favorite band in a smaller, intimate setting.

AEG's Don Strasburg thinks he has found a solution with his Mission Fair Ticket platform, powered by the AEG-owned AXS Tickets. Initially conceived and implemented by Phish for their shows, the sales strategy avoids put putting all the tickets for a show on sale at once, and instead asks fans to register for a chance to buy tickets, providing their names and credit cards. Once the window to signup ends, a computer will randomly select thousands of preregistered fans, charge their credit cards for up to four tickets and notify them by email when their orders were processed, typically a few days after signing up.

"As a business, we're phenomenal at putting on incredible events, but buying tickets is still the most difficult, inconvenient part of the live experience," Strasburg explains, saying a number of bands have already committed to using the platform.

The Trey Anastasio Band will sell tickets using Mission Fair Ticketing when they play the Mission Ballroom on Aug. 10, as will co-headliners Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue for their Aug. 12 show. Inevitably there could be thousands of fans who don't get tickets, but over time, as smaller bands who typically tour the theater and club circuit market play the venue, fans will have a more equitable opportunity to buy tickets that doesn't have them sitting at a computer at 10 a.m. and constantly refreshing their browser to try and beat out scalpers and thousands of other fans for tickets.

"If you're a teacher or student, you're in a classroom at 10 a.m. and don't have time to drop everything to buy tickets," said Strasburg, who said he hopes the sales strategy "improves the one part of the live music experience that fans like the least."

The Mission Fair Ticketing platform is similar to Ticketmaster's Verified Fan initiative where fans register in advance for a shot at high-demand tickets, giving promoters and managers a chance to comb through the orders and weed out scalpers and suspicious activity like over-the-limit orders. But unlike Ticketmaster, which asks fans to return a second time to select their seats and buy tickets, the Mission Ballroom is all general admission and once a fan signs up and is selected, they don't have to take any additional action to buy tickets.

"And we won't be canceling tickets once we sell them," Strasburg said. "We will weed out the resellers in advance so that we don't have to take tickets away after they've been sold."

Strasburg says he will encourage bands to forgo presales and early fan club ticket programs and try to get as close to having 100 percent of available tickets sold through Mission Fair Ticketing

"There's no need for the traditional presales anymore," Strasburg says. "If you use this method, it's the fairest way to get tickets into the hands of your fans."

Any leftover tickets not sold through Mission Fair Ticketing will be listed on AXS for sale. If Mission Fair Ticketing works it could be expanded to other properties, but Strasburg said for now, the equitable approach is only being used at Mission Ballroom, which represents the culmination of years of planning and designwork to create the community-oriented venue.

"Mission Ballroom was designed with three core components that up to this point have not been fully integrated together in the club concert experience in the United States: flexibility in capacities, unrivaled sightlines and state-of-the-art in-house sound and lighting. Fans and the bands will love it," says Chuck Morris, chief executive of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains in a press release. The 60,000 square-foot concert space will use a mobile stage to change the size of the venue from 2,200 to 3,950 guests, as well as tiered viewing platforms so that fans can dance and enjoy the show without any obstructions.

"It's the Mission Ballroom because we're on a mission to deliver the finest music experience we possibly can for the artist and the fan," explains Strasburg. As calling the venue a ballroom, instead of an auditorium or hall, the decision fell along the same lines, he says.

"We're calling it the Mission Ballroom because when you're here, you and everyone else are having a ball," Strasburg says.


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