Editor's note: Here is an explanation from Reggie Williams, general manager of the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center, to North Augusta resident Anne Folk's complaint about not getting good seats for the Elton John concert.
I am not one to complain, but I just spent the last 15 hours in front of your box office, 25th in line and got nosebleed seats (section 223). I understand there was a great demand for these tickets, but we, the citizens of the CSRA, should have at least had a better choice. I know that the out-of-town people do bring money to our area, but if you want the citizens of the CSRA to support you on future events, you should have looked out for us. I realize that TicketMaster is a large part of your sales, but you should reserve a block for the people in this area that will make or break you. This is the sort of thing that has given the Civic Center a bad name in the past.
Dear Mrs. Folk: Thank you for taking the time to voice your complaint. I know what I am about to tell you will not make you happy. However, I respect what you have said, and believe that you are due an explanation of what happens when an Elton John, or any act of that magnitude, goes on sale.
What happened here today happens in cities throughout the country when big acts go on sale. It is a matter of supply and demand, and unfortunately, our capacity at the Civic Center is only 8,100. I do not know how many people were trying to get tickets this morning, but I would venture to say at least 500,000, and maybe as many as a few million.
We do not sell tickets to TicketMaster. Rather, they are the computerized ticket company that we, and most other facilities, use. Anyone with a telephone or a computer, anywhere in the world, had the same equal access to tickets once they went on sale at 10 a.m. TicketMaster outlets throughout the state also had equal access to tickets. I did many interviews last week where I stated that there would be a great demand for these tickets. I also said that tickets could be purchased by telephone or at any TicketMaster outlet. Moreover, news releases were sent to the local media with telephone numbers for the outlets and the Web site on the Internet.
The promoter and the artist set policy on ticket sales. I was in agreement with the policy for this show 100 percent. To establish a policy that would give preferential treatment to the people at the Civic Center box office would have been grossly unfair to people who went to the other outlets. It also would have defeated the purpose of having charge lines and computer service for people who live where there are no outlets, and for people who perhaps had no transportation to get to an outlet.
And while I am happy that out-of-towners who were able to get tickets will create an economic impact for Augusta, I think way too much has been made of that. The simple truth is that the demand for tickets far exceeded what was available. Please know that I am very happy that you were able to get tickets. And while you are not happy with your location, the worst seat in our Civic Center is closer to the stage than more than half the seats in the new Philips Arena in Atlanta.
In closing, I am disappointed that your experience today would cause you to think poorly of the Civic Center. Short of having multiple performances, or having a building with a much greater capacity, I honestly don't know of anything we could have done to avoid what happened.