RealTime IT News

Rushing Online For Super Bowl Tickets

When Judy and Louis Debise pack up their RV for their trip to Jacksonville this weekend, if it doesn't have the Eagles logo on it, it doesn't go.

The Debises will trek from their home in Conyngham, Pa., to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots square off in Super Bowl XXXIX. Although they're season ticket holders, the Debises lost out in the lottery for Super Bowl tickets -- but they logged on and got some anyway.

The Debises bought their tickets on RazorGator, a four-year-old e-commerce site specializing in event tickets. RazorGator's transaction model is like eBay's: It doesn't sell tickets itself, it simply puts buyers and sellers together. Unlike eBay, sellers pay nothing to sell tickets; RazorGator marks them up 15 percent.

"We validate the credit card, and they can purchase the ticket like any other consumer retail site," said RazorGator CEO David Lord. The company confirms the ticket was received by the buyer before it authorizes payment to the seller.

"It's always been a significant event for us," he said of the Super Bowl ticket chase. "This year, we were almost out of Super Bowl tickets maybe two or three days after the championship games."

Lord said the online event tickets marketplace has become established and professional. RazorGator has plenty of competition. A simple Web search turns up dozens of sites and hundreds of available tickets, while tickets offered via online auction platform eBay go as high as $14,599 for a pair (with some perks added in).

The Debises are part of a trend that's changing the game for sold-out events: online exchanges that let ticket hunters find out the going rate and make a buy without the anxiety of an auction.

According to Jupiter Research's Retail Forecast Summary, the online channel will account for 18.5 percent of all event ticket sales this year. By 2009, online sales will take a 22.7 percent share. (Jupiter Research and internetnews.com are owned by JupiterMedia.)

The report said 75 percent of the 79.2 million U.S. households that go online also buy online. Jupiter expects them to spend $3.8 billion on event tickets this year, growing 11.5 percent to $5.7 billion by 2009.

Bob Corcoran said he found RazorGator through a Google search. "Their price was definitely one of the better prices out there. I liked the way the Web site was set up, you didn't have to go through a lot of BS to get to the bottom line," he said.

Corcoran, of Boxford, Mass., will bring his father and ten-year-old son -- "three generations of Bobs" -- to Jacksonville in hopes of seeing the Patriots trounce the Eagles.

The trip will be a lot less stressful for him than last year's game, when he stood in front of the stadium trying to buy tickets -- scoring them just a half hour before the game.

The Internet is growing in importance as the source for team news and information, as well as ticket sales. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, NFL Team Sites collectively drew 1.3 million unique at-home visitors in the week ending Jan. 23, 2005. Fans viewed about 10 pages on average.

RazorGator's Lord sizes the current online event ticket market a bit more optimistically than Jupiter, at around $5.5 billion -- and the company saw about 50 percent growth in revenue specifically from Super Bowl ticket sales this year.

Online ticket selling also gives buyers a clear idea of availability and the going rate, helping to keep prices from skyrocketing.

At press time, on www.buyselltix.com, prices ranged from $2,777 for two seats in row A to $6,478 apiece for four seats between the 40 yard lines. On eBay, two tickets in row F were at just $599, with nearly 24 hours left in the auction, while a couple sellers offered seats in the lower level for $5,999. RazorGator's offerings ranged from $2,269 for seats in the end zone to $4,087 for spots between the 35 yard lines.

Louis Debise said she has bought additional Eagles tickets several times over the years, most of them on eBay. She wasn't pleased with the experience. "You never know what you're getting, who you're dealing with." (EBay did not respond to requests for an interview.)

Both Debise and Corcoran said they appreciated the professional customer service call center RazorGator maintains, as well as the careful follow-through.

Selling tickets online is anyone's game to win. With the high stakes -- both emotional and financial -- ticket hunters will flock to the sites where prices are reasonable. Both fans said the ticket price was a major factor in their choice of RazorGator this year. And next year? Said Debise, "It's human nature to shop. I sell for a living, I can't not look around."