The heartthrobs of One Direction sure are causing a lot of heartache.
Parents are scrambling and ticket scalpers are salivating over the desperate demand to see the British boy band’s Twin Cities debut Thursday at Target Center.
Resale prices start around $270 for nosebleed seats, and the usual danger of phony tickets is reaching a fever pitch.
“It’s turning into a nightmare for a lot of parents,” said Molly Schultz of River Falls, Wis., who was duped into buying a pair of fake $150 tickets via Craigslist.
Now dealing with police on the matter, Schultz bought the tickets as a birthday present for her 14-year-old daughter, Leahy, despite her awareness of widespread scamming.
“I thought everything checked out,” she said, “but I knew right away I’d been ripped off when they didn’t arrive in the mail on time.”
Even for legitimate ticket brokers, the concert has been something of a headache.
“There just aren’t a lot of seats available,” said Mike Nowakowski, co-owner of Ticket King, a resale broker with offices in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Prices on StubHub range from $271 to $2,042 per ticket for seats that originally sold for $29.50 to $89.50.
Part of the problem for parents and brokers alike is that tickets to One Direction’s tour went on sale over a year ago, in April 2012. The tousle-haired, pink-cheeked quintet had only entered the U.S. charts a couple of months earlier with its single “What Makes You Beautiful,” a year after the group broke big in England via Simon Cowell’s TV competition “The X Factor.”
Still, the arena sold out in minutes — something that’s normal for hot tours, ranging from Taylor Swift to Paul McCartney. What’s more surprising is that the group remains hot a year later, despite the skepticism of many industry insiders (and the hope of many parents).
Nowakowski described the ticket situation as a stalemate.
“The people who have tickets just aren’t selling them, or they’re asking [for] too much,” he said. “And the people who want them understandably aren’t willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a mediocre seat at a concert by a group the fans probably won’t even like a few years from now.”
Thursday’s concert evokes memories of Miley Cyrus. Parents shelled out $150-plus for resale tickets to her Target Center concert in 2007 at the height of her fame on the Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana.”
Six years later, it’s hard to imagine Cyrus even selling out a theater one-10th the size of that arena. Even Justin Bieber saw diminished ticket demand his last time at Target Center, in October.
The one teen-centric act to maintain a strong following of late is Taylor Swift, but she tours more often and is doing two shows Sept. 7-8 at Xcel Energy Center. (Only a few tickets remain.) She and One Direction rank No. 1 and 2 in popularity on the StubHub website, a company representative said, but “we could easily see them beating Taylor Swift at the current rate they are going.”
‘It doesn’t seem fair’
Osseo Senior High School senior Katie Rounsville knows that One Direction might be a forgotten fad someday. She sought out tickets anyway, looking for a way to cheer up her 7-year-old sister, Makayla, who recently had appendix surgery.
“When I saw ticket prices, I was just blown away,” said Rounsville, who is more accustomed to the $40 she paid to attend Sunday’s all-day Warped Tour concert. “It doesn’t seem fair that people charge so much for a group that kids like.”
Molly Schultz got an even harder lesson in concert-ticket fairness. The River Falls mom is not willing to try another seller off Craigslist, and can’t afford the higher prices for guaranteed seats at StubHub or Ticket King.
So Schultz has resorted to a strategy she used when she was young and in love with New Kids on the Block — who, coincidentally, are performing at Target Center on Saturday (and have plenty of tickets available).
“We’re calling into the radio stations trying to win tickets,” Schultz said, laughing over the effort.
“We had eight of us calling at once trying to win, a total of 920 phone calls. We’re not playing around.”
Chris Riemenschneider • 612-673-4658 • Twitter: ChrisRstrib