If you're buying tickets next week for your daughters to see Miley Cyrus at Target Center, it will probably be less expensive than last time's much-scalped fiasco -- but more complicated once you get there.
In a sign of how concertgoing could change, the teen pop phenom will use a revolutionary nontransferrable "paperless ticket" -- similar to airline e-tickets -- to thwart scalpers who rained on her concert parade in 2007. But it won't necessarily be easy for parents when Cyrus -- who plays Hannah Montana on Disney TV -- comes to Minneapolis on Oct. 29 (yes, that's a school night).
If you intend to buy tickets on June 13 with your credit card but drop the kids off at Target Center on the night of the show, you will have to go inside to enable the kids to access the e-tickets and get in.
The industry is watching the new ticket process to see if it can be a widely used weapon for concertgoers to battle scalpers' steep ticket prices.
"I think it's a better idea than before," said Nancy Johnson, of Edina, who took her two daughters and granddaughter to see Cyrus at Target Center in October 2007. "But ... I'd like a way to pull up in front of Target Center, swipe my [credit] card and give the tickets to the kids."
Tour officials say this is how the system will work:
• Buy tickets online or by phone using a credit card.
• Bring that credit card and a valid government-issued ID to the arena on show night.
• Go to an entry gate, present the ID and credit card. Entry is allowed after the credit card is swiped and after a seat-locator slip is printed.
• All members of the ticket purchaser's party must be present at the same time to enter.
A video tutorial on the process is offered on www.ticketmaster.com/mileycyrus.
Target Center will begin admitting concertgoers two hours before the 7 p.m. show.
Version of system tested
During Cyrus' 2007-08 tour, scalpers used ticket-buying software that enabled them to grab tickets before the public could and then resold them for inflated prices that topped $1,000 a ticket in some cities. Responding to outraged parents, Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the "Hannah Montana bill" in April 2008 outlawing that ticket-buying software. Now, Cyrus and her promoters have responded with e-tickets for her entire 45-show North American tour, which begins in September.
A similar e-ticket system has been used for theater concerts by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits as well as arena shows by AC/DC -- but only for about 3,000 choice seats.
"This system has been too cumbersome for an entire arena," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert journal Pollstar. "Maybe fans will accept this as a necessary evil" to eliminate scalping. He added that if this system works, the concert industry will adopt it in order "to drive a stake" into ticket resellers.
A hitch for dropoffs, though
Ticketmaster's chief technology officer acknowledged the process might be tricky for Cyrus concertgoers. "We understand ... in a dropoff [situation] this is going to be more complicated," said Brian Pike from Ticketmaster's California headquarters.
What if the ticket-buyer falls ill and can't come? "Our people will work with people in those situations," Pike said. "We will go out of our way to make this work for fans."
The complications might vary from one arena to the next. For instance, Target Center has only two entrances -- the main lobby and skyway level -- which could result in major bottlenecks. By contrast, Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul has four entrances.
Ticketmaster spokeswoman Hannah Kampf said that this new approach was tested in September for a Metallica concert at London's O2 arena attended by more than 15,000 people. She said the process was "seamless." Of course, Metallica fans are certainly older than Miley maniacs and not likely to rely on getting a ride from Mum or Dad.
Tickets for Cyrus' Target Center return, priced from $41.50 to $81.50, will go on sale June 13 at Ticketmaster outlets. There is a four-ticket limit per purchase. The face value of Cyrus' tickets in 2007 ranged from $24 to $64.