‘OldChella’ Ticket Scalpers Get Burned on Stones, Bob Dylan Bet

  • Passes to see veteran rock acts going for half original price
  • Concert billed as chance to see music icons all in one place

The Rolling Stones.

Photographer: Ron Lewis/Icon Sportswire/Corbis via Getty Images

Tickets to Desert Trip, the concert featuring music icons such as The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, are selling for less than half their original price on the secondary market, as speculators appear to have overestimated demand.

A three-day pass for the first weekend, Oct. 7 to 9, was selling for as little as $188 on StubHub, $167 on Vivid Seats and $165 on Ticket City -- a steep drop from their original price of $399. Costco Wholesale Corp. recently e-mailed offers to members to buy general admission tickets for $348. Other packages were also discounted.

“The basic game of the secondary market is gambling and speculation -- it’s pork belly futures,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of Pollstar, a concert trade publication. “Everyone thought this would be a hot show, and it was, but obviously there isn’t a huge market of people willing to pay even more to access tickets.”

Desert Trip has been billed as a once-in-lifetime chance to see stars such as Paul McCartney, The Who, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Neil Young all in one place. Tickets went on sale in May at prices between $399 and $1,599, depending on the seats, for the three-day event. They sold out in hours even with a second weekend added. Billboard estimated the two-weekend box-office take could reach $100 million, $15 million more than the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2015.

To be sure, some ticketholders still plan on getting a big return. Some tickets are listed on those same sites for several thousand dollars.

The event is being held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, about a three-hour drive east of Los Angeles. That’s the same site as Coachella, which typically attracts a younger crowd to see emerging artists. The comparison earned Desert Trip the nickname “OldChella.”

Concert promoter Goldenvoice, which also produces the Coachella festival, has taken steps to make the event more palatable for older guests, such as installing more seating and lounge space. Goldenvoice, which is owned by closely held Anschutz Entertainment Group, depressed the resale market by releasing new tickets two weeks ago, according to Bongiovanni.

Desert Trip, in a statement, said it features a “first-of-its-kind stage design and seating configuration” and was making available a limited number of additional reserved seats and general admission passes for both weekends. Goldenvoice didn’t respond to a request for comment on discounted online tickets.

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