The biggest active concert venue in town will no longer use Ticketmaster to sell its seats.
Target Center announced this morning that it will start doling out tickets through a new in-house system, AXS (axs.com), which was created by its operating company AEG Live. AXS has already been implemented locally for the AEG-owned club Mill City Nights. It will be used to sell tickets for all events at the Minneapolis arena save for Timberwolves and Lynx games, which could eventually change over to the new system, too.
Now, the big question: Will AXS provide a break from the extra fees that have made Ticketmaster the most hated entity in pop music since disco? The answer is more or less a no, but Target Center reps believe it improves on the Ticketmaster model in several ways. First, AXS fees are listed as a single fee right up front. Second, AXS does not charge the oft-scorned print-at-home fee. And lastly, AXS has added some nifty do-dads to the buying process.
Foremost among the new AXS gadgetry is its AXS Invite social-media platform. Users of AXS Invite can buy their tickets and then invite friends to buy seats right next to them, which will be reserved for 48 hours. In other words, you don’t have to buy your friends’ tickets and risk having them back out last-minute and leave you hanging. Target Center and AEG also hope to employ more interactive social-media techniques through AXS, and they tout a superior virtual waiting room that isn’t just a nonstop “please stand by” message.
A look at some of the tickets currently on sale at Mill City Nights confirms the fees are clearer but no less steep. For the Nov. 24 show by Staind frontman Aaron Lewis, for instance, the website lists up front a $9.50 fee on a $29.50 ticket (plus $.74 tax).
“Ticketmaster took the bad rap for ticket fees because they were the dominant ticketing company for so long, but those fees are still a reality with every new ticketing company that’s emerging,” said Target Center’s director of ticketing, David Balcer. (Even Ticketfly and eTix, two other new companies used by First Avenue and many other clubs, charge similar if a bit more modest fees.)
AXS is already used at some of AEG's biggest venues around the world, including the O2 Arena in London. It will only be used for future events yet to be announced at Target Center, not shows that have already gone on sale. The first test for the arena will be the WWE Holiday Show on Dec. 28, which goes on sale Saturday. How fitting to start out with a wrestling event, given that the new service itself something of a smackdown against Ticketmaster.