Golf fans looking for tickets to the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in June may need to look in the “secondary” market. It’s a prospect that could make some queasy, given the experience of Seahawks fans who did not get Super Bowl tickets they had paid for.
The “secondary ticket market” that broke so many hearts — and wallets — in the run-up to this year’s Super Bowl awaits would-be spectators who don’t yet hold tickets to June’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
With all competition-round tickets sold out by the USGA, online resellers are asking up to several times a ticket’s face value for admission to the 115th U.S. Open, the first held in the Northwest.
Weekly gallery passes that were sold by the USGA for $450 were offered last week for between $800 and $1,292 on StubHub.com, owned by eBay. Another site, VividSeats.com, listed those tickets at $612 to $1,009.
About the U.S. Open
June 18-21 at Chambers Bay golf course in University Place, Pierce County. Spectator information at http://www.usopen.com/pdfs/2015USOSpectatorGuide.pdf
High-end “1895 Club” passes, which include food and drinks in an exclusive pavilion for the week, were sold by the USGA for $1,875 and have been offered by online brokers for between $3,000 and $6,700.
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Tickets have been on sale since last summer but have been getting increased attention since completion of the Masters a week ago has made the U.S. Open the next major golf tournament on tap.
The USGA last week released its spectator guide for the June 18-21 open, which is expected to draw 30,000 spectators a day to the course along Puget Sound in University Place, south of Tacoma.
February news stories featuring tearful Seahawks fans who traveled from Seattle to Arizona only to learn they wouldn’t get the tickets they’d paid for undoubtedly have some sports fans skittish about the resale market.
Last month, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit against SBTickets of New York, saying the service failed to deliver on 60 Super Bowl tickets it had sold to Washington residents for a combined $149,000.
At the time the suit was filed, the AG’s office had received 120 formal complaints against 35 companies related to Super Bowl “short selling,” involving brokers selling tickets they didn’t yet have. SBTickets was named in 24 complaints.
USGA spokeswoman Janeen Driscoll said she has little advice for fans navigating the secondary market.
“We do know that people will be active in reselling tickets … but none of them has a relationship with the USGA,” she said.
Unlike the NFL, which uses TicketMaster as an authorized ticket reseller, the USGA has no authorized outlet for fans or brokers attempting to resell tickets.
Buying tickets online
Try to make sure the seller actually holds the tickets.
Arrange to get the tickets well before the event.
If possible, withhold final payment until the tickets have been received
Peter Lavallee, spokesman for Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Don’t help counterfeiters: Never post a photo of your ticket online.
Cameron Papp, StubHub
The only individual tickets still available from the USGA are for the Monday-Wednesday practice rounds before the start of competition. Those one-day gallery passes are $50.
Most online ticket transactions may go smoothly, but it’s the ones that go badly that generate attention.
Cameron Papp, a spokesman for StubHub, said it’s unfair to blame all online sellers for the worst-case Super Bowl experiences. Papp said his agency spent $5 million to ensure that each of its Super Bowl purchasers did get a ticket to the game.
Unsupplied tickets were the basis of the complaints in most of the Super Bowl ticket complaints. Incidents of counterfeit tickets do happen, but are relatively rare.
A basic precaution Papp recommends: If you do land tickets to a marquee event, resist the urge to show them off on your Facebook page.
Although the U.S. Open is major sports event, Papp said he doesn’t expect it to generate the same frenzy that football fans feel when they find out — just two weeks ahead of time — that their team is playing in the Super Bowl. “The Super Bowl is a whole other monster,” he said.
Ferguson’s spokesman, Peter Lavallee, said anyone purchasing resold sports tickets should attempt to find out if the seller actually has the tickets. They should arrange to get the tickets well before the event and — if possible — before final payment is made.
Lavallee said the AG’s office received 22 Super Bowl ticket complaints about VividSeats, after which the company compensated would-be ticket buyers twice the price they had paid for tickets.
The U.S. Open features three ticket levels.
The 1895 Club offers all-inclusive hot meals, snacks and drinks in a climate-controlled pavilion with monitors providing event coverage.
The midlevel Trophy Club has similar access to an indoor area, but patrons pay for food and drinks.
Holders of the basic Gallery pass can purchase food and drinks at concession facilities around the course.
Gallery passes for Sunday’s final tournament round were priced by the USGA at $125 and recently were offered on StubHub for $308 to $574.
The wide discrepancy in asking prices for the same product reflects that ticket holders are testing the market, Papp said.
He said prices have gone up since the Masters, which had good TV ratings and helped put the spotlight on Chambers Bay.
Papp said prices typically drift lower as an event draws near, as ticket holders become more motivated to sell.
But there’s no guarantee that prices will drop. For the Super Bowl, well-heeled Seattle fans willing to pay thousands of dollars per seat helped keep prices at unprecedented levels.
If a similar confluence of interest and affluence becomes attached to the prospect of seeing golf’s finest players competing on Puget Sound soil, ticket prices could remain high.