published Thursday, January 31st, 2013

City Beat: What will you pay to see a favorite act?

I've talked with a lot of super fans over the years, and I would have to now put Camille Gregg near the top. Gregg lives in Jacksonville, Fla., and her former husband lives here. She saw our story last week on Elton John tickets being offered via online secondary ticket outlets prior to officially going on sale last Friday and called to share her story.

In the last 42 years, Gregg has attended 110 John concerts. Her first was in 1972, and her 111th will be in Macon, Ga., in a couple of months. In the past, she would have seen that show, then perhaps traveled to Montgomery, Ala., to see him there and then up to Chattanooga to see John's show at McKenzie Arena on March 23. She won't do that because it has become too expensive.

She has seen 110 John concerts because she attends them several at a time, she said. If he does three shows in New York, for example, she attends all three if she can.

High-demand shows like John's, or the Super Bowl, where the face value of a ticket is more than $900 and some online sites have them for twice that and more, have become big business. Gregg called to say it is the true fan who is paying the price.

"The least amount I have spent in the last five years is $150."

The most was $1,172. She did not care to reveal the total amount she has spent.

She is willing to pay to see her favorite act and understands the laws of supply and demand, she says. She does worry, though, about the current environment in which brokers are buying up large numbers of tickets and selling through the secondary ticketing agencies at prices well beyond face value. All of which is legal in most states, by the way.

"I understand the free-enterprise system, but when someone does this, it takes away from the artistry."

So what is the solution? I know a guy who bought Hannah Montana tickets for a show in New Orleans, sold them, and with the profit was able to fly his family to Las Vegas, pay for two nights in a hotel and take them to the Montana show there. And he had money left over.

I definitely feel Gregg's pain, but I have to admire the Montana ticket guy on his enterprise, right?

The reality is, as long as someone will pay that kind of money, people will sell them at whatever they can get.

By the way, when I looked at the online Mc-Kenzie site earlier this week, there were still several hundred John tickets left.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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