When Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo tickets went on sale earlier this morning, familiar hiccups and complaints resurfaced from last year, when the rodeo switched to the AXS ticketing system, but in the early going it appeared that at least the full-on social-media meltdown of last year had been averted.
Trying it out ourselves, we selected Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town and Luke Bryan, the latter of whom already holds a couple of the rodeo’s single-show attendance records. We logged into the “virtual waiting room” shortly before 10 a.m. and were greeted by a map of the field and a message that our turn would come soon, tracked by a blue bar that refreshed every two minutes or so. Our place in line for all three came up shortly before 10:30 a.m.; we followed through with Lambert and found the tickets were only available as “split seats” and not together. We tried again shortly before 11 a.m.
As we were waiting for our own dates to become available, we scanned the Twitter hashtag #RODEOHOUSTON to see how others were faring. The first customer successfully reported buying tickets on Twitter at 10:17 a.m., about the same time as last year. Someone on Twitter reported successfully buying Bryan tickets a few minutes after our Lambert seats came up, while others continued to wait. However, we did see other people who said they were either still waiting, unable to find seats and in one case had been kicked off the system. Elsewhere, several people complained on Facebook that tickets were unavailable for the lower levels of NRG Stadium due to being already sold to season-ticket holders, volunteers and other special pre-sale offers.
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The rodeo’s switch to AXS system was designed in part to circumvent broker sites like Stubhub, saying it cannot vouch for the legitimacy of tickets purchased via third party. Nevertheless, Saturday morning Stubhub offered plenty of tickets for both the rodeo performances and parking passes for the grounds, which often fetched a few dollars more than the entry-level seats. Using Bryan as an example, we found tickets available in every level of the stadium, albeit at a significant markup. For many potential ticket-buyers, it appears convenience is priceless.
A sampling of Twitter chatter from earlier today: