Hundreds hit by ticketing issues at Elton John’s show in Indianapolis
For Edith Belitza, from Muncie, Friday night’s Elton John concert at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse was “a lifelong dream” for her and his wife.
“It’s something we’ve definitely put money aside for,” Belitza said in a phone call Saturday. “We don’t normally spend $1,000 for two tickets. We’re both retired teachers.”
As she presented her tickets at an upstairs entrance, Belitza was told they weren’t valid. It was sent downstairs to the box office, where a mass of people apparently suffered the same fate.
An hour and 45 minutes later, with just under half of John’s show already over, her cleared balcony seats were suddenly converted to backstage seating, where she could only see a small screen and the back of John’s head.
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As this was the 75-year-old singer’s farewell tour, she and others are unlikely to get a makeover.
The Fieldhouse released a statement late Friday night noting that the show had a series of postponements, and the venue has since begun a renovation project that has affected seating.
“We have been communicating regularly with ticket holders, with those who have been affected by the reconfiguration of seats, and we have brought in additional staff to the ticket office and in our customer services in anticipation of a high volume of problems. We apologize to any fans who were delayed the show or had issues with their seats.”
John’s performance was delayed multiple times from October 2019 to Friday.
It’s unclear exactly how many people were affected by the ticketing issues.
IndyStar contacted Gainbridge on Saturday afternoon for further comment on the seating issues.
Belitza called the sound quality of her seats “terrible”, and she had no idea of John’s elaborate staging or the video vignettes that accompanied many of his songs. She has since received a refund for her purchase from StubHub.
Jim Fangman and his wife drove up from Batesville, about an hour southeast of Indianapolis, for the show, he said Saturday. They bought a pair of tickets for around $750 as a 2018 Christmas present and then spent around $300 on hotel, meal and gas expenses.
The couple arrived at 6:30 p.m., and their tickets were deemed invalid. They waited first in one line and then in another before reaching a ticket attendant, who Fangman said explained that their seats were among those reconfigured during the renovation.
Gainbridge was unable to link Fangman’s tickets to Vivid Seats, a third-party resale company, because they were apparently bought and sold through Vivid by a broker, Fangman said.
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He contacted Vivid, but the company could not locate the broker. After trying several other solutions and being refused new places by the room, the couple gave up around 9 p.m.
Fangman said he had already received emails after several postponements of the show confirming that his tickets would be honored – not any notice of the need for new seats due to the renovation.
In response to an IndyStar inquiry, Vivid Seats said Fangman would be reimbursed. Fangman confirmed his refund.
At 7:45 p.m. Friday, 15 minutes before showtime, there were easily hundreds of people struggling to find a line at the box office.
Some, like Belitza, had purchased their tickets from third-party providers such as StubHub, while others had done so through Gainbridge. Some had bought tickets years in advance, others earlier in the week. Several frustrated potential viewers announced that they would be leaving and demanding a refund.
On Twitter, Meghan Gray shared a similar story and photos, saying she was sitting behind the stage when she bought tickets cleared from across the room.
Belitza and others on social media said the number of late arrivals was likely 1,000 or more.
Rory Appleton is the pop culture reporter at IndyStar. Reach him at 317-552-9044 and [email protected], or follow him on Twitter at @RoryDoesPhonics.